Wednesday, November 04, 2009

How to make a Cat House for winter

If a nice stray cat is roaming your backstreet and squatting your flower boxes you might be worried, like my wife, about how he would fare in the very cold nights of winter. If, like us, you cannot take those strays inside because you already have cats you can always build them a little cat house to keep them warm.

I used to make a cardboard cat house for them. I would take the biggest shipping box I could find, cover it with packaging tape (or a garbage bag) to protect it against water, cut a little door with a utility cutter and put a bunch of old clothings inside to make a cat bed. Unfortunately, those cardboard cat houses last only a year — two if your lucky or three if you made a very sturdy one (using waxed double-sided cardboard and lots of tape). The humidity always rots the cardboard and the clothings become quite smelly.

This fall I decided that the fourth cat house that I would build would last a lot longer (if not forever). Here's how I did it:

I took a 53L “Rubbermaid Roughneck Tote” container ($7.59 at Canadian Tire, but in my case I simply used an empty one I already had in the basement), cut a little door with a heavy-duty utility cutter, (if you don't have one, it's $6.26 at Staples) and lined the inside (optionally the outside too) with an old piece of carpet for insulation.

And voilà: an instant mobile cat hotel!

This year's stray, named Marmelade-boy (there's a different one almost every year) adopted it within minutes. He really loves it. That gives the lovely fellow a warm lair to spend winter protected from the wind and snow while my own cats (in the picture: Spotty) are protected from the fleas and diseases he surely carries. I love my cats, but feeding and caring for two of them is quite enough.

However, be careful (or prepared) because, if one of the strays using the cat house is a female, you might very well find a litter of kittens in it when spring comes! It happened to me twice. The first time I gave them all to nice foster-parents, petshops or shelters, but the second time I kept one for myself: Saya (pictured). See my MobileMe Gallery for more cats pictures.


jesse.anne.o said...

Hi there, I happened upon your instructions when I was looking for cat furniture online. I love that you're sheltering the outside cats!

Since you mentioned you experienced kittens, and it seems most of the cats you're encountering are unfixed, I figured I'd mention something we do quite a bit of in NY - Trap-Neuter-Return.

Here is some basic info on it:

And here:

We've also found that anything that will not retain water (and possibly freeze) and anything the cats can burrow into instead of laying on to (which draws away their body heat), is really effective insulation if you're interested in doing anything in addition to what you have now, if you wanted.

There is info on winter shelters (you've pretty much made what we use already!) and also on insulation here:

Hope that helps and how awesome of you to be doing this for these cats! Once fixed, the males might wander less and you'll certainly have less kittens to try to rehome - there are certainly enough of those already around across the US at shelters. Good luck!


jesse.anne.o said...

Also,cute pictures!

clodjee said...

Incredibly, I still use this same cat house today!

clodjee said...

I might add: be careful because racoons apparently like the cat house a lot! This winter I caught one in it several times…