|Founded in 2003, Feral Cat FOCUS is a volunteer
organization that provides fundamental services for feral
cats in Western New York.
|PO Box 404, East Aurora, NY 14052
1-888-902-9717 (toll free), www.feralcatfocus.org
Build An Inexpensive Feral Cat Shelter
This document is a Fact Sheet compiled and copyrighted by Alley Cat Allies. They are at
PO. Box 397, Mount Rainier, MD 20712.
Alley Cat Allies strongly recommends that feral cat colonies have proper protection from
inclement weather as well as a place to hide and commune.
These building plans are recommended for any area of the country. For extremely
harsh, cold and wet climates, insulation (as described) is advised. Many types of
shelters can be used in less harsh climates, such as those along many coastal regions
and in southern states. However, rain is frequent even there and feral cats must have
dry, warm refuge.
Other instructions may be obtained by writing the CAT Caring Connection at: 2 Red Hill
Circle, Tiburon, CA 94920.
These instructions are for building an insulated cat shelter 2 ft. x 3 ft. x18 in. high. You
should be able to buy the materials for approximately $25-30 at a local lumber yard. An
electric saw and screwdriver are highly recommended. Caution: If you are not
experienced with an electric saw, have a skilled person cut the wood and paneling. It is
always easier when there are two people doing the job. If these instructions seem too
difficult, you may consider buying an already constructed dog house or consult your
local newspaper or community bulletin boards for a handyman looking for a project.
Following is a list of things to consider before starting your project. These will help you
determine what you need to buy and how much work will be involved, and also provide
a few helpful hints.
How many cats do you need to house? This number determines how many shelters to
build. Keep in mind that not all cats are likely to use the shelter, or at least not all at the
same time. This shelter should probably house no more than 5 to 7 cats at once. You
can adjust this plan to make a larger shelter, or build more than one shelter as
Be sure to make the shelter small enough for transport in your vehicle. The shelter size
described here will fit in a standard size car trunk with the trunk lid open.
If you live in a climate that gets very cold we recommend that you use insulation as
described in the plans.
Use only exterior paint to reduce weather exposure (preferably dark green or dark
brown, or something that matches the surroundings).
The floor should be tiled instead of carpeted to reduce the chance of flea infestation and
combat moisture inside the shelter.
Use screws instead of nails for better durability.
The roof should be hinged so bedding can be replaced, and for easy access when
rescuing kittens that might be sheltered there.
The roof should be slanted to keep water outside. You should “test” the shelter by
spraying it with a mock shower from your garden hose - checking for rain leaks.
A wind block should be set in place inside the door of the shelter to improve occupant
comfort. You may also consider a canvas flap to go over the door. During periods of
snowfall clear the entrance thus allowing the feral cats a clear, safe path into and out of
Place wood chips, straw, or hay inside for warmth and comfort. (Note: you may
mistakingly consider using carpet or some kind of fabric in place of straw or hay - don’t
do it. Why? Fleas! It’s important that the interior floor be non-porous and that there’s
enough straw/hay to allow the feral cats to “nest” plus provide “cushioning” & insulation
from a cold floor. The only exception to the above would be fabric specifically designed
to line outdoor pet shelters. Straw and hay wont freeze or “hold” fleas)
1ct 4-ft. x8-ft. sheet exterior grade plywood or wafer board
1ct 4-ft. x8-ft. sheet interior paneling or thin plywood
1ct pkg. roofing shingles or enough to cover 8 sq. ft. roof
2ct 2-in. x 3-in. x 6-ft. untreated lumber
Linoleum, or other floor tiles (to cover 6 sq. ft. floor)
1 quart exterior house paint
2 medium hinges ("T" or gate hinges)
2 in. flat headed wood screws or grippers (approximately 50)
4 to 9 bricks for foundation
small roofing nails (approximately 15)
fiberglass insulation (1 roll, or enough to cover 14-20 sq. ft.)
(available at local hardware store or tool rental)
electric screw driver
angle brace or T-square
Cut wood. For easy assembly cut all wood first, then assemble shelter. Some pieces
may need adjustment after cutting.
Cut plywood as shown below. This is only enough for one shelter.
Cut paneling as shown below. One sheet of paneling is enough for two shelters.
Cut 2-in. x 3-in. x 6-ft. lumber into 8 posts and 2 shelf braces. Cut four 11-in. lengths, and one
17-in length from one piece. Cut one 17-in., two 16-in., and two 5-in. lengths from the other.
Place base on table or work bench. These plans referenced to front oriented at top in diagram.
1.) Put side wall A in place on left and screw front wall and left side wall together using one
17-in. corner post.
2.) Position side wall B on right and attach to front wall using other 17-in. corner post.
3.) Position back wall and attach to both side walls using two 11-in. corner posts.
Note: corner posts should rest on top of base, as should front, back, and side walls. All posts
should be inside front, back, and side walls.
4.) Turn walls upside down and place base on top. Mount base to sides, first screwing down
corners then going along edges. Be careful that screws go straight into plywood walls,
without protruding through sides.
5.) Turn shelter back to upright position.
6.) Cut and staple insulation to inside of side walls A and B.
7.) Screw interior side walls A and B (cut from paneling) to corner posts already in place.
8.) Attach front and back posts for front and back wall supports.
Note: these posts are placed flat against front and back walls, at right angles to corner
posts, as shown. Post next to front door should be 5½ inches from right interior wall to leave
room for wind block.
9.) Cut and staple insulation to inside of front and back walls.
10.) Screw front and back interior walls to front and back posts.
11.) Put wind block in place and screw it to front of shelter, then to bottom (do this from
12.) Screw 5-in. shelf braces upright to center of wind block and left interior wall near
front corner of shelter to support shelf if desired. Then screw 9-in. x 2-ft. 3 ½ in. shelf
on top of braces (for extra cat sleeping room).
13.) You may want to place leftover pieces of plywood or paneling over exposed insulation
around top edges of shelter. Strips must be measured and cut to fit spaces to be filled.
14.) Place roof on bench and turn shelter upside down. Center shelter on roof with roof
hanging over on all sides. Screw hinges to underside of roof and outside front of shelter so
it will open easily and stand up straight on its own.
15.) Turn shelter back over and attach shingles with roofing nails in offset pattern to seal
against weather. After nailing shingles, bend nail points over to avoid injuring cats.
16.) Place floor tiles inside if desired for extra protection.
17.) Paint shelter (all exposed wood should be painted, including bottom, to protect it
from rain and/or snow).
18.) When placing the shelter, make sure to set it on top of bricks or other objects to
keep it away from ground contact. Also take prevailing winds and exposure into account:
placing shelter front facing south often maximizes warmth.
Note: you may also cover interior underside of roof with fiberglass or plastic foam
insulation, but be sure to cover it with plastic or wood. Foam needs cover to hold it in
place, and uncovered fiberglass will harm cats.
Note: Check out the “Cat-illac” Ranch below for a completed version of this shelter.
Last updated Friday, November 14, 1997 4:32:20 PM
Content Copyright 1993 Alley Cat Allies
HTML Copyright 1996 Feral Cat Coalition