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How to Make a Cat Shelter

Updated on December 3, 2015

The temperatures outside get below freezing during the night here in Baltimore. My old cat shelter broke up into tiny pieces in my hands, so it was time to build a new one! This time, with real Rubbermaid tubs! If you have never made a cat shelter, it is really easy. It took me less than a half hour and cost a bit less than $20. That $20 can stop a cat from freezing to death in winter, a slow and painful death.

Here's what you need:

  • Two Rubbermaid tubs of slightly different sizes with lids that fit inside each other (I found a 16 gallon and an 18 gallon. That is about as close as you can get for a nice tight fit)
  • 1 roll on insulation around 3 or 4 feet long
  • A blanket, towel, straw, or soft fabric
  • SHARP box cutter
  • Hammer
  • Phillips screwdriver (a hammer and chisel work too if you have them)

Step 1

Using the hammer and screwdriver, poke a hole in the back corner of each tub so they line up. This is to drain off any water that might get in.

Step 2

Make the entrance's cutting marks with your box cutter on both tubs. Make sure they line up properly. I suggest marking the outside first, then flipping the tub onto your head, shining it into the light, and marking the same area on the inside. This makes it easier to pop out the cut piece.

Now cut out the entrance with your box cutter. You can perforate the lines and then go over it with your box cutter for easier cutting, or etch out the piece on both sides and pop it out. If the edges are rough, you can sand them down. Personally, I don't think the feral cats care.

Step 3

Place the insulation around the inside of the larger tub on all sides except the entrance. Cut the insulation if necessary and save for later.

Step 4

Place your blanket, towel, straw, or fabric into the smaller tub. You can fold it nice and neat if you would like but I like to scrunch mine up so the cats can get under it if they need to.

Step 5

Close the lid of the smaller tub and set it into the larger tub around the insulation. You might have to pull the insulation back up so it covers the entire wall of the tub. If you have insulation left over from Step 3, place it on top of the lid.

Step 6

Close the lid of your larger tub and you are done!

So cozy!
So cozy!

Place the shelter outside where it is accessible to outside cats. Put a stick or small brick under the entrance to aid drainage. If you are worried about other animals getting into the shelter (if you put food in here which you should), put the shelter on a higher space like on cinder blocks or even a porch. Ferals and strays will not bother you if you do not bother them.


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