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Building Homemade Shelters for Stray Cats

DATE 11 / 12 / 2020

The winter months can be quite harsh and especially cruel to stray animals. To help out our furry friends, crafting a homemade stray cat shelter creates a safe and cozy haven from the cold. You can place these shelters outside of your home, in nearby grassy areas, or any safe zone in your neighborhood. There are a few different ways to create these shelters, but the two most popular (and easiest) methods are listed below. 

Photo courtesy of Luckyferals

The Straw Method

What you’ll need:

  • 2 large plastic tubs (one needs to be small enough to fit inside the other, leaving room around the edges) 
  • Hairdryer 
  • Sharpie 
  • Xacto knife 
  • Straw 

How to build:

  • To start, remove the lids from the tubs. On the large tub, use the blow dryer to soften the rubber or plastic of the tub by blowing it on the area where you’ll be cutting a hole for the cat to enter the shelter. For visuals, check out this video
  • With the Xacto knife, cut a 6 inch square hole, about 6 inches from the bottom of the large tub (to keep out snow, water, or anything else that could damage the interior). Once you’ve cut the hole, place the small tub inside of the large and trace the hole onto the small tub. Repeat the hair dryer process, then cut the hole in the small tub. 
  • Before placing the small tub inside the large, lay a light layer of straw at the bottom of the large tub. Then, place the small tub inside the large, making sure the holes are aligned. Fill in the empty space between the two tubs with straw to insulate the shelter. 
  • Put the lid on the small tub, then cover with more straw. Then put the lid on the large tub, enclosing the shelter. 

The Insulation Method

What you’ll need:

  • 2 large plastic tubs (one needs to be small enough to fit inside the other, leaving room around the edges)
  • Hairdryer 
  • Sharpie 
  • Xacto knife 
  • Insulation (from any hardware store like Lowe’s or Home Depot) 

How to build:

  • To start, remove the lids from the tubs. On the large tub, use the blow dryer to soften the rubber or plastic of the tub by blowing it on the area where you’ll be cutting a hole for the cat to enter the shelter. 
  • With the Xacto knife, cut a 6 inch square hole, about 6 inches from the bottom of the large tub (to keep out snow, water, or anything else that could damage the interior). Before you place the small tub inside the large, you’ll need to trace the bottom of the tub on the insulation, like this. If you can’t find thick insulation, try the heat reflective material used in this method
  • Cut the traced insulation area with the Xacto knife and place at the bottom of the large tub. Repeat this process by tracing each side of the bin so that you have insulation on each side of the shelter. Trim insulation accordingly if the measurements are off. Place the small tub inside, making sure it fits snugly between the insulation and the large tub. Put the lid on the small tub, then place remaining insulation on top before covering completely with the large tub lid. 

*Cats feel most comfortable in warm, tucked away spaces, and cushioning your shelter with blankets will make them feel much more at home. To make the plastic interiors cozier and more inviting to our feline friends, add polar fleece, towels, or soft blankets for them to snuggle up in!