Winter Feral Cat Shelters

PLEASE HELP!  Winter is on its way again and there is a never-ending need for winter cat shelters.  We always need help from persons willing and able to build some shelters! We also need donations of 1/2 inch plywood (preferably exterior plywood), insulation, luan, 3-4 inch hinges, and rubber roofing. Please call 845-7888 if you have scrap items to donate!

Winter Shelters for Feral Cats

Winter is brutal for homeless cats.  They need help throughout the winter months to find shelter that provides them protection from cold and wet weather.  Without a good shelter, cats may become ill, and may suffer from frostbite on their ears, nose and paws.

There are many ideas and designs available for winter cat shelters, but all good designs share two qualities:  strong insulation and minimal air space.  The insulation is needed to trap the cats’ body heat.  Minimal air space is necessary so that cold air doesn’t fill the empty space and chill the cats.  Straw is the best insulating material to use inside the shelter.  Blankets or towels will become wet, will freeze and draw body heat away from the cats.  Cats will cozy or burrow into straw and keep their body heat from escaping.

Some designs suggest using styrofoam shipping containers, but caution is urged because cats often scratch them and particles may be ingested.

Community Cats Volunteers Help Build:

Community Cats TNR volunteers have been building the Alley Cat winter cat shelter shown in the photo.  It is constructed of 1/2” plywood, has a 5” x 6” opening, double walls to allow for insulation between, a sloped and shingled or rubber roof, and a wind block just inside the entrance.  Cats enter the shelter, go around the wind block, and cuddle into the straw interior.  Volunteers have experimented and modified the design provided by Alley Cats to add roof insulation and rubber roofs, and a two-story design with compartments.  More photos can be found in the Winter 2017 newsletter found on the NEWS tab.

Another Popular Shelter:

Another popular shelter can be assembled using a large and a small storage bin.  Blue board or fiberglass insulation can be placed below, above and around the interior “box” which is lined with plenty of straw.  Entrance holes approximately 6” in diameter can be cut on one end of the long side of the outer and inner storage bins so the entrances line up.  The two boxes can then be connected with 6” circular drainage tubing.

Dog Houses

Dog houses may be modified by making the opening smaller, and large dog houses may be modified to reduce air space by designing “compartments” inside.


Allowing cats an entrance into an outbuilding will provide excellent protection from the elements, especially if you also add one or more small corners of straw, perhaps in a wood or cardboard box, under a tarp, etc.

Indian Summer Boxes

Indian Summer Co-op Inc., formerly known as Mason County Fruit Packers, 3958 W. Chauvez Road, Ludington, MI  49431 has wooden boxes available, currently priced at $5 each.  The boxes are larger than typical winter cat shelters, but could be modified to make smaller compartments with separate outside openings for larger cat colonies.

To Learn More About Winter Feral Cat Shelters, Please Visit:

To Build your Own Feral Cat Shelter Visit: