Weatherproof Outdoor Shelter for Community Cats

Amelia S. (3rd grade); Darian R. (3rd grade)

Weatherproof Outdoor Shelter for Community Cats

Feral cats aka community cats play a very important role in our everyday lives and we don’t even know it. They help maintain a balance in our ecosystem. As hunters, they catch small birds, rodents and lizards, which helps control the populations of these animals. Without community cats, the animals they prey on would overeat, causing the loss of local vegetation. For example, if rabbits feed on the vegetation, other animals may lose their food and habitat.

With these simple quick steps and tools below we can create a shelter for one or more (depends on size) of these community cats and keep them cool/warm and safe from predators. This project took us about 30 minutes to complete and can only fit one cat, but adding more totes or styrofoam coolers can keep an entire community warm/cool and dry.

Plastic toteStyrofoamStraw
RocksUtility KnifeDrill


New or old plastic totes are used because they are great at keeping everything inside dry. We should be using a tote no smaller than 18 gallons. Styrofoam coolers also work great for this project.

Measure and cut the styrofoam to line all four side of the tote. At least 2″ thick styrofoam is needed to insulate the inside of the shelter. Styrofoam is the best material to use as it keeps temperatures very balanced inside.

Cut one entrance hole as high as possible in the tote while still being able to close it completely. The hole should only 5″ to 6″ diameter (enough to fit the cats whiskers). This is best size because it helps to keep the inside temperature balanced, bigger animals away and smaller ones from liking the shelter too much.

The entrance hole should be placed toward the top of the bin to keep rain/flood from going in.

Straw is the best material to use inside because it repels moisture. We can never use too much straw. Blankets or hay are not good materials to use inside because they can absorb moisture and can keep the shelter wet.

Raising the shelter off the cold ground makes it easier for the cats to warm the inside with their body heat. Putting the shelter on a slant helps to keep rain from pooling (we can use a couple of large rocks for that). Drilling one or 2 small holes on the bottom of the slant also keep water from pooling on the inside of the shelter.

Use Spray Paint to camouflage (if needed)

Our biggest challenge making this shelter was cutting the plastic tote by ourselves. We had to use our parent’s strength and supervision when handling the power tools and utility knives and making sure we stayed safe. We ended up having to add a flap to our shelter because we made the hole too big.

7 thoughts on “Weatherproof Outdoor Shelter for Community Cats

  • Great idea! I love this project as a way to help these cats. I see them all the time and wonder who cares for them. Thanks for doing this!

  • Really an awesome idea! Best of luck!!

  • It just warms my heart to see young people use their skills to create useful items and recycling materials. As I am involved in cat rescue, I come across cats living on the streets all the time, having to find shelter in dark and damp places, while they are keeping the property free of rodents. Your project will help those kitties live a better and longer life. Great job!

  • So proud of you kids! Not only for crafting such a cool project but for thinking of the animals it can and will help.

  • Great job… sadly there is a problem with pet being abandoned. This is a great inexpensive option that everyone can follow to creat a safe environment for our little friends… amazing job!!!

  • Never really knew that feral cats had such an important role to play in our ecosystem. This project is full of important information, not only have I learned how to make a shelter for cats in simple basic steps, but I’ve also learned a lot about ecosystem.

    Thank you to these 2 young kids for not only building something helpful but doing it all out of reused materials. Bravo!!

  • Great team work!! Thinking about those less fortunate reveals your good heart!!! Your project is very creative and necessary! You are using recycled materials to create a very nice home for animals that don’t have one. This project is not just about solar/green energy but also about kindness and solidarity! Congratulations team!!!


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