Providing an Outdoor Winter Shelter for Cats

Providing an Outdoor Winter Shelter for Cats

Providing an Outdoor Winter Shelter for Cats


Outdoor cats tend to roam and wonder. Whether it is your own cat, a community stray cat, or a feral cat, being outdoors in the winter is very hard on them. Not having the right shelter can be deadly.


Cat shelters should be constructed of a good solid material to withstand the elements – resist wind and rain/snow. Be sure it is large enough for multiple cats, as they tend to group in families.  However, a shelter too larger will be hard to retain heat. Be sure to provide warm bedding – straw/hay or blankets. Be sure your structure is water proof! Bedding is only warm if it is dry.  Tilting the structure slightly will allow any moisture to collect on one end, while keeping the upper end dry for warmth.  A small doorway will help retain heat generated by the cat’s own body, keep wind and rain/snow out.


Understandably you may not want to invest in a permanent structure, here are some ideas for temporary DIY structures that are inexpensive, dry, and warm. (Shared from Urban Cat League.)


styrofoamshelter-e1359005363591-300x237The styofoam cooler – picture above provides a warm insulated structure.  This is a simple and low cost structure to make.  It is light weight, however, and should be positioned in a location not prone to wind.  (Find instructions & materials needed here.)



igloocoolershelter-e1359007268447The picnic cooler house is also pretty easy and used coolers can often be found at thrift stores and garage sales.  (Find instructions & materials needed here.)



3669817001_f51ceee950_mThe insulated storage bin house with insulation panels installed for warmth.  (Find instructions & materials needed here.) *Lid not shown in this photo. Instructions include lid.)



foilbackedinsulationshelter-e1359015700392The foam core insulation house is made by bolting together the rigid foam insulation using large washers.   (Find instructions & materials needed here.)



The Insulated 2 bin house2tubshelter-e1359017411145.

(Idea from the Ian Somerhalder Foundation.)

This is another easy one that doesn’t take much work or require many tools.



insulatedcondoshelter-e1359018759257This insulated condo is clever, low cost, and easy to make.  The exterior is rigid foam insulation glued together with heavy-duty construction adhesive.  Two storage bins serve as the inner compartments.



While providing shelter is the first thing to help our outdoor fur-friends, remember to also provide plenty of food and fresh water.  Water bowls can freeze quickly in subzero temps, so be sure to check often.  Dehydration is high in winter when water is hard to find and the air is dry.


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