EFA: Etsy For Animals Etsy For Animals: Making Shelters for Feral Cats by Josie of Whiscraft

Etsy for Animals (EFA) aka Artists Helping Animals,

is a team of independent artists, craftspeople,

vintage sellers and craft suppliers on Etsy.com

who are dedicated to providing charitable relief to animals

by donating a portion of the profits from their shops

to an animal charity of their choosing,

and/or to EFA's featured Charity of the Month.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Making Shelters for Feral Cats by Josie of Whiscraft

Making Shelters for Feral Cats 
by Josie of Whiscraft

As summer conveniently rolled into the milder heat of autumn, nature is bustling with brilliant colours to celebrate the harvest, and to make way for the holiday season which starts alongside winter.

Wild animals everywhere are just as busy preparing for their long slumber and for that purpose stockpiling and clearing their way into a warm home where they can take shelter during the frozen winter. 

Unfortunately, declining available land does not always grant enough space for all. When the first snow falls, we will often see our more independent feline friends rely on car motor for warmth, or even brace themselves out in the open all together.

Some, with their natural charm, will tug the hearts of kind people who open their door for them, but others don't always, and animal lovers like us will often be plagued with guilt for not being able to home one more because our hands are already full. If that is the case, we might have some solutions for you !

Feral parents and enthusiast all over the world have come up with a great many ingenious, yet cheap, ideas to help our feline friends through the winter. Here are some practical things you can do: put together some DIY feral cat shelters.

The most commonly used materials are Rubbermaid tubs, straw, Styrofoam, and bales of straw. All of them are widely available and affordable in price. 

Here is one particular idea which has long circulated the internet (so much so that we can no longer trace its original owner) is a rather effective shelter:

A long time Toronto Cat Rescue volunteer modified the commonly used rubbermaid boxes by incorporating reflectix panels sold at home depot. 

Reflectix (also known as Mylar blanket in survival stores) is a foil-faced material that reflects 97 percent of radiant heat (meaning the cats' own body heat will be reflected back at them) and it's easy to work with. Mylar or Reflectix can make a huge difference saving cats from freezing in extreme winter conditions. Using rubbermaid 189L bin, gorrila tape and some posters, she made a shelter large enough to house 5 cats, and it's cost was less than $50! 

You can find her detailed instruction HERE.

Our October Charity of the Month: Alley Cat Allies has literally tons of diy feral cat shelter ideas to choose from

One of the easiest ones comes from a fish or steak box. Talk about value added to the project- the cats get aromatherapy as well :) A colourful eye candy step-by-step instruction can be found on flickr HERE.

Whatever design you choose... here is a practical checklist of things to consider...

MATERIALMaterial should be lightweight (for your own sake) but sturdy enough to hold cats and not so lightweight that it can easily be blown away.

INSULATIONConsider adding a smaller container inside the outer shell for extra insulation. There are a lot of options for insulation which can be stuffed between the two containers: shredded papers from your office, folded newspapers, straw, or Styrofoam peanuts (put it inside a pillow case). Choose whatever is abundantly available to you, but do remember to check this material often to make sure it didn't get wet & should be changed... otherwise you will end up with very sick cat. You can also drill a small hole at the bottom of the shelter and be sure to position the shelter so water can drip out. 

POSITIONING OF SHELTERPosition the doorway to the shelter in line with a building so that its roof is an overhang... and also away from the prevailing wind to prevent moisture from coming into the shelter. You can always add weight at the bottom of the tub, sand for instance, which might help to anchor down the shelter.

PREVENTING DRINKING WATER FROM FREEZINGThis is a little tricky... Most people buy a water bowl with an electric heater, but you can also consider this idea... cut the rim out of one side of a tire, and stuff it with rock. Put the water container in the middle. The tire will trap heat from the sun during the day and the rock will keep the heat long enough to prevent water from freezing. This trick is used by horse owners to prevent water in their field from freezing. Use a small Styrofoam box, like those used to transport vaccine, and cut it tall enough for a cat to be able to drink from it, and fill it with water, or if the box is small enough, glue every side shut and make a hole in one side large enough for the cat to drink. You can also insert a water bowl into the styrofoam box.

Want more ideas ? Here is a video on how you can build a simple feral cat shelter from two plastic tubs, courtesy of Pet Collective: 

So go ahead... 
have fun helping kitties this winter 
You'll be saving lives !

Resource Info


  1. THANKS so much Josie - its great to have concrete ways that we can help feral cats this winter !

  2. The honour is mine :) No better gift than knowing our indie feline friends thrive

  3. Josie, this is a great post! I'm going to reblog it! :)


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