We have a little furry friend in the neighbourhood that likes to come visit us, he technically doesn't belong to us but he's made us his surrogate family. So when we are not around to let him in the house we want to make sure he has a place to bunker down when it gets cold and snowy out.
I had built him an old cat shelter years ago that he has been using but it was time to upgrade it and make something more permanent and could also double as a seat on the deck.
So lets get to it.
Step 1: Materials
- Sheet of 1/2" plywood
- Wooden boards for trim
- Clear acrylic or polycarbonate sheet
- Manually controlled heating mat
- Wood glue
- Clear silicone sealer
- Vapour barrier plastic sheet
- IP Camera - https://amzn.to/2RJs5uW
- Heating pad - https://amzn.to/2AT0mSI
Power tools that made this build easy:
Step 2: Making the Box
I decided on the dimensions of 24" x 18" for the main part of the shelter. I cut the plywood out and made a 5 sided box with the top left open. I glued and screwed all the parts together, making sure to drill pilot holes first to prevent splitting.
For the top of the shelter I wanted to have a hinged top for easy access to the inside. I used plywood for the top and glued and screwed wood strips to it, that I ripped on my tablesaw. I made the top slightly larger than the top of the box so there was ample clearance when closing and opening the cover. Also this will double as a seat, so I left it flat, I don't need to worry about rain or snow as the shelter will be under a covered deck.
The box is pretty basic, I don't have a lot of pics of this part of the build.
Step 3: Windows
It's easy just to make a box and door and call it a shelter but I think the little guy would like to see what is going on outside so I added multiple windows.
I marked and then cut out windows on three sides of the shelter, the 4 side would be against a wall so I skipped it. Once the openings were cut I routered out a channel so the clear acrylic sheet had a recessed spot to sit flush against the surface. That way the trim could easily be installed.
For the windows I used clear acrylic sheet, it was left over from a previous project. To cut it I used a draw knife used for cutting plastics, it's really inexpensive and is so much easier and safer than using a regular utility knife. Simply score and then break at the score line over the edge of a table with a block of wood on top to hold it firmly in place.
On the routered channels some sealant was applied to prevent drafts and then the acrylic sheet was placed then trimmed.
The whole shelter was then painted.
This is turning more into a cat condominium!
Step 4: Door
For the door it's a cut out square, but leaving it open would be very drafty. I thought about purchasing a proper cat door but figured since i didn't need the ability to lock it I could just make one. I used some thick vapour barrier and cut slits out that were 1" wide. I did this to two pieces so I could overlap them and then using a piece of wood at the top of the door to secure the plastic strip door.
I got the idea from a butchers shop, where they have the plastic strips to the entrance to the cold area.
Step 5: Heating and Camera
So this is optional but your cat will so love you if you do this (actually the cat will probably still feel apathetic towards you). I purchased a heating mat that is used for aching joints and muscles. The best type to get is one that has manual controls with no auto shut off.
The mat was installed on the bottom with the control and cables tied to the back of the shelter. Two layers of carpet was placed on top of the mat to make it nice and comfy. This makes it easy to clean, you can just take the carpet out, wash and put it back in. Also most cats will pull at the carpet so it's important to either put two layers of carpet or have a thick carpet as you don't want their claws damaging the heating pad.
Finally a WI-FI internet camera was mounted so I can peek in on the little guy. I turn on notification sometimes so it will notify me when he comes in and out of the shelter.
This is the camera I used - https://amzn.to/2RJs5uW
This is the heating pad with manual controls - https://amzn.to/2AT0mSI
Step 6: Final Touches
The top of the shelter was lined with outdoor carpet. It doubles as a seat and makes a nice perch for the cat when it's not cold out.
Overall this was a fun project and the little guy absolutely loves it, it hasn't been that cold yet but he has been using it already.
Be sure to check out my video too: