Building a Affordable Outdoor Cat House

admin's picture

Today we are going to build a cheap and very effective cat shelter that helps protect outdoor cats from the cold. We have tried this and it works extremely well. What you will need:

  • Styrofoam Cooler of the correct size for your cat to lay and turn around in
  • A knife or Saw ( A razor knife works really well )
  • A Phillips Screw Driver
  • 4 3" Deck Screws or Equivalent ( The screws are best to be for wood so they have a large grove pattern )
  • An old towel, or optionally a cat bed heater

Cat House Materials

Cat House Materials

If you are in good with your local pet store you can ask them for a cooler that they have fish delivered in. These coolers are 100% perfect for the job and will be the type of cooler we will be using for this example. The main thing is to be sure the cooler is long and wide enough for the cat to comfortably lay down. Most small coolers that you find at the grocery store are not fit for this purpose.

Steps in making your cat house:

  • First start by cutting a mouse hole shape in one of the small sides of the cooler. You don't want this hole to be any bigger than your cat needs to squeeze through it. The smaller the hole the warmer it will be. 
    Cut Hole Shape in Cat Box

    Punch Hole From Styrofoam

    Clean Up Door Edges

    Finished Cat House Door
  • If you bought a cat bed heater you will want to place a small hole ( big enough for the cord to push through from the inside ) in one of the large sides at the bottom furthest away from the front of the house ( where the door hole was cut ). 
  • Now either put the heater into the cooler or, if you didn't get a heater, place the old towel or other scrap cloth in the bottom of the cooler.

    Fold Cat House Towel

    Insert Towel or Bedding Inside Cat House
  • Place the top on the cooler and secure it with the deck screws on all four corners so it can't be blown off by wind or knocked off by dogs and other nosy animals.

    Screw On Cat House Lid

    Finished Cat House Lid
  • Place your new cat house outside where your cat will see it, preferably in a place your cat already likes to sleep.  It is also advisable to place the door of the cat house away from the direction of the wind to maximize the heating ability of the house.

    Completed Cat House

We have our cat house on the front porch as that is our outside cat's favorite spot to be.  In addition, the box is against one of the brick walls, which helps shelter from the wind.  Our cat started using his new cat house within a week after putting it outside once it started getting really cold.  The house insulates so well that if our cat is in his box and we put our hand in the box we can feel the heat that is circulating around within the house, thus keeping kitty warm.


L.B.'s picture

Great idea! I would strongly

Great idea! I would strongly suggest using straw rather than fabric, which tends to hold moisture.My ferals seem to like burrowing into the straw.

Christy's picture

Straw is a good insulator as

Straw is a good insulator as well.  The reason we used fabric was because we kept our cat box under a covered porch and had a heated pad in it as well.  My cat wasn't feral, just had no interest in staying indoors, so his blankets inside were easy to change as needed.  But yes, straw is a great solution as well, especially if it can't be easily cleaned out.  Thanks for the tip!  :)

Pet Research Admin

"My main goal in life is to be as good of a person my dogs already think I am." ~Anonymous

scott s's picture


Interesting post! Thanks providing us these step by step instruction which are very helpful for us. It's really fantastic idea, Great stuff.....

Anonymous's picture

Thanks for sharing such a

Thanks for sharing such a wonderful idea and for the step-by-step instructions. My outside cats will definitely appreciate having one of these!

Anonymous's picture

Outdoor Cat House

A wonderful low-cost cat shelter idea! Thanks for sharing your step-by-step instructions! I know my outdoor cats will love this!

Photog John's picture

great idea!

This has to be one of the most effective, cost friendly cat houses I've seen.  I've put my hand in there before when Big Worm was in there, and if feels like he has his own personal space heater!

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