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Simple Cat Shelter Design

Based on plans by the CSM Stray Foundation

All Animals magazine, July/August 2010

  •  All you need is a plastic storage tub, foam, and straw to create this simple shelter for feral cats. Mike McFarland/The HSUS

  • Make sure to periodically replace the straw to keep it fresh and dry. Mike McFarland/The HSUS



  • 35-gallon plastic storage tote or bin with lid (approximate dimensions: 32.5 inches long, 19.75 inches wide, 18.5 inches tall)
  • yardstick
  • utility knife
  • sheet of 1-inch-thick rigid foam insulation board, 8 feet by 2 feet
  • straw



1. Using the yardstick and utility knife, cut a 6-by-6-inch doorway on both of the long sides of the storage bin toward the corner. To prevent flooding, cut the opening so that the bottom of the doorway is a couple of inches above the ground.
2. Cut a piece of the foam insulation board to fit the floor of the bin, and line the floor with it.
3. In similar fashion, line each of the four interior walls of the bin with a piece of the plastic foam. Perfect cuts aren’t necessary. Leave a uniform gap of at least 3 inches between the top of these wall pieces and the upper lip of the bin.
4. Cut out two doorways in the plastic foam lined up with the doorway in the storage bin. Trace the outline of the doorways on the plastic foam first before cutting.
5. Stuff the bottom of the bin with straw or other insulating material to hold the interior wall pieces in place.
6. Cut out a plastic foam roof to rest on top of the interior wall pieces.
7. Cover the bin with its lid.



  • To clean the shelter, simply remove the lid and the foam roof.
  • The shelter is lightweight and may need to be weighted down with a large rock or cinder block.
  • Face the opening away from the direction of the wind, if possible.
  • To entice cats to check out the shelter, sprinkle catnip inside.
  • Periodically replace the straw to keep it fresh and dry.

Check out the blueprints for a custom cat condo»

Read highlights from the current issue of All Animals»

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