Outdoor Cat Shelters

Keep outside cats warm, safe and dry by providing them with year-round shelter.

DAWS often has exterior cat shelters available. We are happy to provide them free-of-charge to people who care for outside cats.  Please contact us cats@daws.org to find out how you can obtain one of these shelters.

If you’d prefer to construct your own simple shelter, the following instructions will allow you to quickly and inexpensively provide basic shelter for cats:

    • Find a clean, medium to large size, plastic container like a garbage pail….something a bit longer and narrow will allow the cats to burrow in the back away from the cold and wind.  Never use a container made of metal, because it conducts heat and cold nor one made of wood, because it rots.
    • Lay the container on its side on a raised surface like a deck, or, even better, a raised surface under a deck or anywhere that provides some cover. If a deck or similar surface is not available, you can raise up the plastic container on concrete blocks, bricks or lumber.  You need to get the container off the ground at least 3 inches so that water does not run in.
    • Line the container with straw or hay for insulation and warmth.  Never us cloth, foam, or bedding material as once it gets wet, it stays wet and the cat cannot get warm.

Change the straw periodically to ensure it stays dry and to ensure there is sufficient quantity to keep the cats warm.

To build a sturdier and even more cozy shelter, you may use the following instructions (thank you to Neighborhood Cats for letting us republish these instructions!):


Materials needed are: a large Rubbermaid storage bin, an eight foot by two foot sheet of one-inch thick hard Styrofoam, a yardstick, a box cutter or utility knife, and straw, shredded newspaper or other insulating material. Then assemble as follows:

    • Cut a doorway six inches by six inches in one of the long sides of the storage bin towards the corner. To prevent flooding, cut the opening so that the bottom of the doorway is several inches above the ground.
    • Line the floor of the bin with a piece of Styrofoam, using the yardstick and box cutter to cut out the piece.
    • In similar fashion, line each of the four interior walls of the bin with a piece of the Styrofoam.  Perfect cuts are not necessary. Don’t make the Styrofoam go all the way up to the top of the bin, but leave a uniform gap of at least three inches between the top of these Styrofoam “wall pieces” and the upper lip of the bin. There needs to be room for an interior Styrofoam “roof” to fit.
    • Cut out a doorway in the Styrofoam where it is lined up with the doorway that has been cut out already in the storage bin. Trace the outline of the doorway on the Styrofoam first before cutting.
    • Stuff the bottom of the bin with straw or other insulating material to hold the Styrofoam interior wall pieces in place.
    • Cut out a Styrofoam “roof” to rest on top of the Styrofoam interior wall pieces
    • Cover the bin with its lid.

This shelter can be cleaned by taking off the lid and the Styrofoam roof. It’s also lightweight and may need to be weighed down. A flap over the doorway is optional. Catnip can be sprinkled inside at first to attract the cats.

Buying an Outdoor Cat Shelter

katkabinIf you would like to purchase an exterior cat shelter, there are many that you can find online. One of the best we’ve seen is from a British company called KatKabin.  These shelters are super-cozy and keep cats warm and dry in very cold and rainy weather.

catHouseAnother option is available through Hammacher Schlemmer, called The Only Heated Outdoor Cat House. It comes with a lifetime guarantee and is the only heated outdoor cat home that keeps felines warm and comfy in cool temperatures.

How does it work? A removable 20-watt heater inside the floor of the house generates radiant heat that warms the floor yet is not hot to human touch. The waterproof floor is lined with 1 1/2″ of soft foam, providing a comfortable, dry surface for cats to lounge.

The entire house is covered in durable 600-denier nylon backed with waterproof vinyl and the pitched roof overhangs all four sides of the structure, keeping cats dry during rain showers. The house’s front and back doors allow cats to come and go as they please.

Plugs into AC with 6′ cord. For cats weighing up to 25 lbs. 17″ L x 16 1/2″ W x 13″ D. (5 1/2 lbs.)