Kitty Zen

Moments sharp, sweet and soft

Cheap, Warm, Easy-to-Make Outdoor Cat Shelter for less than $30

Posted by smallspark on December 21, 2008

UPDATE – I made a better version of the cat shelter! I did a variation of the CSM winter cat shelter found here, with thicker insulation:

You can see photos of the cat shelters I made here:

Kitty switches between the original shelter and the new shelter. I have them facing in two different directions, and I have leaned plywood over both of the shelters to add more protection from the cold, wet and wind. He’s definitely feral and hisses at me when I refill his food and bring warm water but he doesn’t run as far away now, and has started to come over and watch me when he hears the back door bang open. He knows I bring the goodies. 🙂


It’s COLD outside. I have one little kitty that comes by for food that I’ve been trying to catch for about 2 weeks now. I’m not sure if he’s feral or stray.  I can’t get close to him often. This cat doesn’t want to be caught and I can’t keep on staying awake until 3 AM which, of course, is when he likes to come by.  Unfortunately it’s cold enough the cats can actually freeze to death now, especially if they get wet.  😦    I have heard of this happening already and it was sad.  The reality this actually happens really bothers me.

So, I’m giving this shelter idea a try.  I just made a warm shelter for kitty and just put it outside! It was actually amazingly easy and I had most of the supplies in the house.  Best part? It only took me an hour and it’s actually turns warmer after a moment or two when I stick my hand in. So the mylar is helping.

In the original version of the shelter, I used a variation on the Chicago idea below since I didn’t quite have the right pieces. But since it’s supposed to snow tomorrow it’s much better than nothing. I originally made it for my favorite stray Buddy: Buddy, my favorite feral/stray

To start, I just put a cat litterbox cover on top of a cardboard box. Then I put thick Styrofoam from a sewing machine box inside the cardboard box, wrapped it all in mylar, put a trashbag around it and taped all the garbage bag edges to the piece of cardboard I used to make a small overhang and decrease the size of the entrance.

I then put a piece of mylar inside, on top of the styrofoam base, place paper shreddings on top of that (since I don’t have straw right now) and added straw.   I then placed it on two pieces of wood underneath to lift it off the ground, and put some leaves on top of it for more insulation and for protection. I put it next to my stoop since that’s where I’ve been feeding him, but that is not recommended since it puts the kitty in a vulnerable position.  I’ve since moved the shelter and feeder to my backyard and he found it, I guess by following his scent markers.

If cats outdoors in this weather stresses you out too, and you want to make one, here are some links to outdoor, inexpensive cat shelter ideas. Most are less than $30, if not cheaper. Put the shelters somewhere the kitties will feel safe.  Orient the shelter so it is not facing into the wind, and protect it as much as you can. The shelters help but it is cold out there.  (and if you are able to go above and beyond, get a outdoor heated floor mat, and/or heated water bowl so water won’t freeze. Better yet, get them inside, if they will go.  Another option is to trap them. )

NYC outdoor cat houses using styrofoam

Chicago idea incorporating solar pool covers

NYC outdoor cat styrofoam (in a covered location)
If you don’t want to make your own, buy one here 59.95 + shipping : This company seems to be the most popular and pretty cost effective, however other companies do make them too.

For more information on helping feral/outdoor cats survive the winter check out this article:

Keep them warm and safe!!


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