How To Build A Feral Cat Shelter


There are millions of homeless feral and stray cats in the world. They fight to survive and simply eat each day. Removing them is likely not going to “resolve” any issues, because others will quickly move into the established area. But there are lucky felines that live within feral cat colonies and have loving humans caring for them. They are fed daily and eventually earn the trust of their caregivers. However, these cats need to be protected from the elements. A feral cat shelter can protect them from the cold and the heat, and are relatively inexpensive to make.

The weatherproof feral cat shelter we built is one of the easiest ways to help keep our furry friends protected from the elements.

Here’s what we used to make this version.

18 Gallon Tote – This size works great for single cat or perhaps mom/newborns in a pinch.


Knife – Please be safe and use a box cutter with protective casing and have an adult do this step. 

Styrofoam Cooler – Make sure this fits inside the tote you’re using!

Straw – ALWAYS use straw and not hay! Hay soaks up moisture which makes the shelter cold and can also get moldy. Please also avoid material such as blankets and towels as these will also hold moisture.


ALWAYS Remember to have an adult supurrvise when using knives; Be SAFE!

1. Cut 5 1/2” diameter hole on one end, making sure that it is raised off the ground but not too high for kittens to get into if needed. **TIP; warm the plastic with a hair dryer before cutting for a smoother slice.

2. Insert the Styrofoam cooler and cut an opening to match the tote’s entrance.

3. Place straw for bed on inside of cooler floor and in between cooler and tote for extra insulation if desired.

4. Add the Styrofoam lid back on, close with the tote lid and voila! Finished!!!

Here are a few other tips/options/considerations for this type of cat shelter.

*For jagged edges, have an adult use a hair dryer or lighter to melt any sharp points. This will leave a smooth edge for cats to avoid injury.

*You can use Styrofoam or insulation board or mats instead of straw. This allows you to form the insulation into larger or “odd” shaped containers that may be used. 

*When buying the storage containers, we figured for just a few dollars more we could make a super sized version and provide shelter for a couple more cats. Because honestly not all feral/stray cats will share a shelter, however, colonies that live together may.

Here’s what Cat Man Chris did for a MEGA shelter at one of the colonies he feeds. 

*You can add a second entrance/exit to the shelter if you’re worried about predators in your area. Some may chose not to since this cuts down on the insulation of the shelter quite a bit.

*You can add plastic flaps to the entries/exits to help keep drafts out though as well. Be warned though, cats are still a bit weary of having to walk through plastic at first.

There are many different options when it comes to building an outdoor feral cat shelter.

This is the simplest and easiest out there that we’ve made dozens of times. We’re not saying this is the best, but it’s more than adequate to keep some feral/stray kitties warm this winter. Or cool here in the Florida sun…AND shade really!

There are wonderful options to purchase as well. But the most important thing is to purrlease DO SOMETHING!

If you know of any feral or stray cats in your area that could really use a shelter this winter to keep warm, act now. If we can make one with “help” from Marmalade, we know you can too!

Thanks fur learning how to make a difference and remember to be nice to feral cats 🙂

For more info about trapping cats, check out this video!


Leave a Reply
You May Also Like