Building a Community Cat Shelter!

1If you’ve trap-neuter-returned (TNR) feral or friendly cats, here is a great way to provide them with a shelter to hunker down in on cold nights.

These shelters are inexpensive, and easy to build.

Note: Feel free to modify these as you see fit. There’s no real right way or wrong way to construct a community cat shelter. The important thing is to make them something they feel safe in, that keeps them safe, and that they will use to escape the elements.

What you’ll need:

  • Sterilite 18 gal. and 30 gal. containers
  • drill with large bit
  • scissors
  • permanent marker
  • 5″ paper plate
  • jab saw (
  • 2Reflictix insulation (
  • brick or short piece of 2″x4″
  • straw

Construction process:

You’ll want the opening for the shelter about 5″ wide. The paper plate is for marking this opening, but anything round and approximately 5″ wide will do (flower pot, ceramic plate or bowl, coffee can, etc.).

The bottom of the opening should be about 4″ up from the bottom of the container. 2,3Measure up from the bottom, center the paper plate left to right and mark a circle with the permanent marker.

Drill a couple of holes next to each other so you can fit the jab saw into the container and cut out the opening.

Cut a piece of insulation for the bottom of the 30 gal. container.

6,7Place the 18 gal. container inside on top of the insulation and mark the opening for the 18 gal. container with the same paper plate.

Make sure you’ve lined up the opening for both containers. Cut out the opening on the 18 gal. container just as you did for the 30 gal (drilling holes next to each other so you can fit the jab saw in.)

Cut a sheet of insulation to wrap around the 18 gal. container. 7Make sure you don’t block the opening.

Place the 18 gal. container with insulation inside the 30 gal. container.

Cut a piece of insulation for the top of the 18 gal. container.

Place a brick or short (approx. 10″) section of 2″x4″ in the 30 gal. container just in front of the 18 gal/ container. This keeps the 18 gal. container from moving around inside the larger container.8,9

Fill the 18 gal. container with straw about 2/3 full, making sure to leave enough room for cats to get inside.

Sprinkle some cat nip inside and at the opening.

Questions about this shelter or community cats in general?10,11

Please email Eric Phelps, at

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