Frugal and Homemade Winter House for Stray Cats

Updated on November 11, 2017
Krista Schnee profile image

As you can see from my writing, much of my work has a personal basis. My family, faith, and work are my passions.

A Frugal and Warm Solution for Outdoor Cats

Our cats gave the house their own approval!
Our cats gave the house their own approval! | Source

Keep These Guidelines in Mind

We have seen different variations of this type of construction, but most required the outlay of additional resources than what we have used in our house. These can be considered general guidelines for a house and not necessarily definite instructions or rules.

Keeping this in mind, you can use what resources (and money) that you might have in building such a house. The main purpose is to create a house that provides insulation and protection from the elements. So as long as your house fits that description, then great! Your local cats will love you for it.

Stray and Outdoor Cats Need a Warm Home

In our neighborhood, we have several outdoor and stray cats who visit our house each day for love, along with food and water. Although they may have their own house and family, we still worry about them and provide them with whatever they might need. When the weather turns colder, this includes an outdoor house for shelter.

Having very little money at the moment didn't stop us from making them a shelter of their own. With a little ingenuity and creative recycling, we made a cat house that can provide warmth and security even during the winter months.

Items Needed for House

Here are the items that we used in constructing our cat house. We only purchased one of these items; the rest were things that we had on hand.

  • One large plastic bin, purchased on sale
  • One box that would fit inside bin with enough "dead space" in between the two
  • Styrofoam rectangles for insulation
  • Shredded paper
  • Duct tape
  • Cutting tools (knives, scissors, etc)

Keep in mind that although kids could help with this project, all cutting should be done by an adult.

Choosing the Plastic Bin

Choose a large bin for this project.
Choose a large bin for this project. | Source

Protecting Those Kitties!

How do you protect neighborhood cats?

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Deciding on a Plastic Bin

The stores offer many different colors and sizes of plastic bins for storage and other uses. Deciding on which bin to purchase—that is, if you don't already have one at home—can be confusing. However, when you are looking down the aisles of possibilities, keep these things in mind:

  • Buy one that will be big enough to accommodate another box as well as insulation. (We purchased the largest bin that we could find.)
  • Purchasing bins around the holidays can save you money. Often the holiday-themed bins can be found on sale, saving you even more money.

Finding a Box

Choose the right size box for your bin.
Choose the right size box for your bin. | Source

Choosing a Box Doesn't Have to Be Tricky

If you don't already have a stash of boxes at home, then this part may take you some time. Looking at local stores and shipping places may provide you with possible resources for large boxes.

As you can see above, putting the box on top of the lid of the plastic bin may provide you an idea as to whether or not the box will be big enough and still allow enough space for insulation. Sizing the box ahead of time can save you time and energy in the following steps.

Cutting Out the Door

Be careful when cutting the door in the plastic bin!
Be careful when cutting the door in the plastic bin! | Source

Cut Out the Door in the Bin and the Box

Choose one end of the plastic bin and cut out the door. This hole should be big enough so that cats can easily enter the house. Keep in mind that you will need to cut a hole of the same size in the box that will fit inside the bin.

Be careful as you make these cuts as the knife can easily slip when cutting the plastic bin. Always use caution and make sure that there are no children or animals around you when you are doing this part of the house.

Putting the Box Inside and Insulation

Make sure the house will be a warm one for those kitties!
Make sure the house will be a warm one for those kitties! | Source

Inserting the Box in the Bin and Adding Insulation

After you have cut the door in both the plastic bin and the box itself, then it's time to fit it all together.

Put the box in the center of the bin and use duct tape to close the top of the box. Then, take the styrofoam and insert it between the sides of the box and the bin. This will make sure that there is another added layer of insulation in the house.

After that, stuff the shredded paper in any areas that might be loose or open. This will make sure the house is tight and secure.

Adding the Final Touches

Adding the final touches will make the house snug!
Adding the final touches will make the house snug! | Source

Making Sure the Home is Snug and Warm

As a final touch, we put the last styrofoam rectangle on top of the box before we closed everything up. This added layer of styrofoam will provide insulation between the box itself and the lid of the plastic bin.

As with the sides, any areas that are open or loose can be stuffed with shredded paper for added warmth.

Taping It Up

Taping Up the Opening and the Lid of the Plastic Bin.
Taping Up the Opening and the Lid of the Plastic Bin. | Source

Taping Everything for Added Security

To make sure that the house was secure, we taped the lid down on the plastic bin so that it could not be accidentally removed by a kitty or other animal. That tape should also prevent any weather—ice, snow, or rain—from entering the top of the house.

Additionally, the area of the door was taped, securing the box to the bin and closing up that "dead space" between the two. This should also prevent any moisture from causing the paper to mildew or otherwise harm the insulation. The doorway was further taped to make the cats' entry into the house as smooth as possible.

Adding Blankets or Other Bedding?

If you have an old blanket or towel, then you might want to add that bedding to the house for comfort. This can make those poor kitties who stay outside a little more comfortable during the winter months.

Placing Your House Outside

Once you have completed your house, where should you put it? Ideally, it would be an area where your neighborhood cats tend to congregate. Too, it should have some protection from the elements. (We placed ours under our carport.)

Finally, one additional thing to consider is raising the house up on blocks or some other secure support so that there is "dead space" underneath the house. This will prevent the house from becoming too cold in the winter when the ground is freezing. It can also discourage other critters from entering the house.


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    • Krista Schnee profile image

      Krista Schnee 23 months ago from Wichita, Kansas

      Yes, you're right, Denise. We discovered that since the hub was written.

    • profile image

      Denise 23 months ago

      Straw is better due to any type of fabric would stick to the cat when wet and doesn't hold in body heat like straw does.

    • profile image

      Frodo 2 years ago

      I have two outdoor kittans that have been long term strays. 'Hisser' had her kittens under our shed last year. She and the two surviving kittens have been spayed/neutered and the kits are barn cats now. Mom lives with her 'man, Sam' the town stray, (now a neutered love bug) on my porch. Last year I had a heavy duty saw blade box from work fitted with a styrofoam container and straw inside. It worked well except it isn't the most attractive thing to have on your in-town porch. So this year I'm thinking of making or buying something with more curb appeal made of wood. Any ideas??

    • profile image

      Nicola Trumbull 2 years ago

      What a lovely DIY! We've featured you over on the FaveCrafts Blog! :)

    • profile image

      Jeri 3 years ago

      I would add STRAW instead of paper. It's much warmer.

    • Krista Schnee profile image

      Krista Schnee 4 years ago from Wichita, Kansas

      Thank you, vibesites! I appreciate the kind comment.

    • vibesites profile image

      vibesites 4 years ago from United States

      This is really nice, a gesture of consideration for cats that you don't even own. Voted up, etc.

    • Krista Schnee profile image

      Krista Schnee 4 years ago from Wichita, Kansas

      Thanks, all, for the kind comments! I hope this helps others who want to provide some shelter to animals of all kinds.

    • caseymel profile image

      caseymel 4 years ago from Indiana

      What a great idea!

    • Bishop55 profile image

      Rebecca 4 years ago from USA

      Great hub! I have a dog igloo behind our garage for my furry friends. I've taken in strays over the years and currently have two cats. Voted up and sharing!

    • Krista Schnee profile image

      Krista Schnee 4 years ago from Wichita, Kansas

      Hi, Mary,

      Thank you for the kind comments, and yes, that's a great idea! That would certainly make it more snug inside.

    • Mary Merriment profile image

      Mary Merriment 4 years ago from Boise area, Idaho

      I love this cat friendly idea for keeping outdoor cats warm in the winter. My only addition would be a flap on the door to further help block out cold air. Awesome idea and tutorial!