Emergency Cold Weather Shelter for Stray or Feral Cats

Updated on August 26, 2019

The winter temperatures in Florida can drop into the 40s, 30s, and even a few 20s at night for a few weeks during the year, while the daytime temperatures rise 40-60 degrees higher. During these evening temperature drops, the nightly news reminds us to cover our plants and our exposed pipes and to make sure our pets are inside. Sadly, feral colonies of cats or strays that have been abandoned by their owners do not have a place to stay warm. While they may make burrows against homes or in shrubs, the cats are not protected from these cold temperatures.

I take care of several neighborhood feral cats. Our winters are very short, so the feral cats and strays don't have much of a winter coat. It was important to me to provide them with some type of shelter that would protect them from the elements and, more importantly, help to keep them warm.

This solution would not be adequate for extreme cold conditions, but for our southern climates, it works well.

Necessary Supplies for Building the Shelter

For this project, you will need the following for each shelter you make:

  • 18-gallon storage bin with a lock-on top
  • Straw (not hay)
  • Double-sided tape
  • Mylar emergency blanket

Why Straw and Not Hay?

It's sometimes difficult to tell the difference between straw and hay, but for a shelter, there is a big difference.

  • Straw repels moisture. It is what's left over from harvested hay crops and is more golden or yellow in color.
  • Hay is used for animal feed. Hay retains moisture so it does not make for suitable bedding for a shelter made for warmth.

If you're not sure which is which, just ask someone where you're considering purchasing the straw from.


How to Build the Shelter

  1. On one end of the 18-gallon storage bin, cut a rectangular opening from approximately 5-inches from the bottom to about 4-5 inches from the top. The width should be approximately 5-6 inches. This should fit most cats. If the cats you have are smaller, you may choose a slightly smaller hole.
  2. With the hole cut out, open an emergency Mylar blanket. Measure the height of the inside of the bin and add 2-inches (that would go over the top lip) and then cut the length of the blanket so that it will fully cover the sides. Do not cover the bottom of the bin with the Mylar.
  3. Using double-stick tape, place a strip of tape from top to bottom about every 6-inches apart starting along one side of the cut opening, and press the blanket to the tape, continuing all around the inside of the bin, and stopping just before the opposite side of the opening.
  4. Fold the top 2 inches of the blanket over the top lip of the bin and secure it with the double stick tape in a few places.
  5. Fill the bottom of the bin with straw, about 4 to 5 inches deep, and overlap where the bottom edge of the Mylar is.
  6. Finally, snap the lid on and place it near the area that they will feel safe accessing it from. Since the cats in my neighborhood sleep in my shrubs, I place mine near the shrubs about 8 inches from the house, with the opening facing the house to limit any wind. I also place straw under and around the sides of the shelter for a little extra insulation.

The bedding of straw will give them something to burrow into and help them to stay warm, and the reflective emergency blanket will reflect their own body heat back on them.

When I made these, had I had a sheet of Styrofoam insulation, I would have cut it and placed it in the bin before attaching the Mylar blanket. This is something you'd want to add especially in colder climates.

My Project Costs:

  • Storage Bin: $7.99 (or free if you have one on hand)
  • Straw (enough to fill many of these and then some): $7.99
  • Double-Stick Tape: Had on hand
  • Emergency Mylar Blanket: Had on hand

I have several of these and the feral cats love them and stay cozy. Some of them even double up inside. I would love to hear if you try this and if you discover warm, cozy kitties inside. While we may not be able to do something for every stray, we can at least try helping a few.

© 2016 Keely Deuschle


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image

      helene gomulka 

      12 months ago

      thanks for the feral shelter suggestion-Moultrie Georgia does not have any feral programs to help them at all just a new transplant have attempted to help as many as I person can help without very much support in my efforts up to this point...saw a young yellow tabby kittens shivering this am due to the rain and the cold temps-entire group seems to be sneezing coughing now- no one seems to care and when I do- they seem to have a problem with that-anyone could help in this horror situation for these poor cats-kittens please phone 510-502-9587 thanks will attempt to catch again-not that feral just scared wet shivering- needs a foster home

    • profile image

      Jacqueline Rivera 

      13 months ago

      Simple and very affordable!!! Thank you so much!!!

    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 

      2 years ago

      What a great idea! So creative. I will build one and I thought I would cover the opening with a plastic tarp just in case in rains they can be dry as well as warm. Thank you for writing and sharing.Have a great night.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      3 years ago from North Central Florida

      Clever thoughtful idea...I have an outside pup and she is a mess....she has a little shelter with nice softies in it for her but she shelters mainly under the privet hedge....silly girl

      Angels are on the way pinned ps

    • Jasmeetk profile image

      Jasmeet Kaur 

      4 years ago from India

      we can create such shelters to save them.. thanks for the idea.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, pethelpful.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)