DIY: Assemble a Cold-Weather Cat Shelter

As the temperatures take a dive, feral and stray cats are at risk for serious health complications. As a cat lover, there are some steps you can take to protect your neighborhood feline friends. Regularly leaving out food and water goes a long way, ensuring strays stay hydrated and receive proper nutrition. Beyond providing a food source, you can keep visiting stray and feral cats protected from frigid weather. Kitties need a reliable place to take shelter, and you can provide it! There are numerous ways to do this. Below we’ve provided instructions for a super simple DIY shelter, adapted from a CSM Stray Foundation project. You can act as a guardian for neighborhood cats by providing a safe haven during the winter months.


Simple DIY Winter Shelter

Large Rubbermaid storage bin
8×2 foot sheet of 1-inch thick hard Styrofoam
Box cutter
Insulating material (straw, shredded newspaper, etc.)

1. Create a doorway in one of the long sides of the storage bin by cutting a 6×6 inch opening. The bottom of the doorway should begin a few inches above ground to prevent potential flooding.

2. Use the box cutter (or utility knife) and yardstick to cut out a piece of Styrofoam that will cover the floor of the bin.

3. Next, cover each of the interior walls of the bin with Styrofoam, leaving a 3-inch gap between the top of the Styrofoam wall coverings and the rim of the bin. This allows space for a Styrofoam roof to be attached.

4. Trace the “doorway” outline onto the Styrofoam that’s lined with the cut-out door, then cut to create an opening of the same size in the Styrofoam.

5. Line insulating material around the bottom of the bin to keep Styrofoam wall pieces in place.

6. Create a roof by cutting out an appropriate-sized piece of Styrofoam to rest on top of the interior wall pieces. Place lid on top of roof to seal shelter.

Note: Bin is light and may need to be weighed down with a piece of plywood or similar heavy material on top. If desired, you can create a flap to place over the doorway.  To initially attract cats, sprinkle catnip inside the shelter. Shelter is easy to clean—just take off the lid and roof.