How to Build a Cat Shelter

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The plight of a feral cat can be heartbreaking, especially for those who live in the colder northern climates. Ice and snow can be harbingers of death, especially for those felines too terrified to come into someone's warm home. If you have feral cats outside and would like to make them a safe, simple place to keep warm, there's a very easy way to do it.

Things You'll Need

  • A plastic tote
  • A Styrofoam container or several sheet of Styrofoam
  • Bedding material, such as straw, towels, or old blankets
  • A separate piece of wool
  • Staple gun
  • Knife
  • Start by taking the tote, and cutting a circular hole in the side. This doesn't have to be large, a cat can fit through any space larger than the diameter of their whiskers.

  • Take the separate piece of wool, and staple it over the hole on the inside. This will serve as a door, and help keep out the wind.

  • Line the inside of the tote with the Styrofoam to insulate the container. You may have to do some cutting on the Styrofoam to get it to fit, and you may have to glue the pieces to the tote to secure them, depending on how well the size of the tote matches the size of the Styrofoam. Your goal here is to completely line the inside of the tote. Styrofoam is great for keeping drinks cool in the summer, it'll also be great for keeping the cats' warmth in the tote.

  • Add the bedding. This can be anything you have laying around the house, as long as it is clean. It shouldn't smell too much like people; this could frighten particularly skittish cats. Straw and hay will work extremely well; as long as it's material they can curl up in, they'll appreciate it.

  • Put a layer of Styrofoam over the top, and then put on the tote lid.

  • The shelter should be positioned somewhere that is relatively protected from the wind, rain and snow. If you know the wind normally comes from the south, set the entrance to the shelter facing north. Even with the door on it, rain will soak the material. This will keep your cats a little more protected.

  • With the snow and cold weather comes hunger. A nice addition to your cat shelter would be a safe, sheltered place for them to eat. This can be made in much the same way, with another plastic tote. Instead of the Styrofoam and bedding, put in a couple dishes of food.

Tips & Warnings

  • A 30 gallon tote will be sufficient for up to three cats. Additional totes can be made as necessary, or a larger tote can be used.
  • Some feral cats were once house pets and have been abandoned by their owner. With some time, patience and understanding, they can once again be taken into a home and become loving house pets. This should be attempted only with caution, and a feral cat should never be approached as one would approach a house cat.
  • Feral cats are wild animals. They can be a danger not only to children but to domestic cats as well. Be careful if your own cat is an outdoor cat; a run-in with a feral cat could have a bad ending.

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