How To Make A Cat House | Help Protect Stray and Feral Cats – Home & Roost

How To Make A Cat House | Help Protect Stray and Feral Cats

How To Make A Cat House | Help Protect Stray and Feral Cats

Melinda Connor |

Want to know how to make a cat house? Well, you are in the right place. Whether it is for a feral cat community, a stray or two or just a stimulating activity house for your indoor cat, we have got you covered.

Depending on the materials you have available, you can construct an outdoor house using scrap wood or an unused dog kennel, plastic storage containers or, for indoors, a cardboard box. Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it? It's not...

Our step-by-step guide is so easy to follow, even the most DIY challenged team members here at H&R headquarters were able to give it a go. The end result? One budget-friendly outdoor shelter and a few pleased local community cats.

How To Make An Outdoor Cat House

There are loads of ready-to-buy outdoor houses that will keep cats safe from predators and provide shelter from the elements. However, if you need more than one, it can become a relatively costly operation.

For this article's purposes, we are going to explain how to make an outdoor cat house using a plastic container. But if you are a little handier with tools and feel like a weekend DIY project, here are instructions for a dog kennel that will double up as a cat shelter.

Ready to make your outdoor cat house?

You will need:

  • A large plastic container (a 30-gallon one will do)
  • A smaller plastic container
  • Scissors
  • Box cutter
  • Sharpie (permanent marker)
  • Straw for insulation
  • Styrofoam slab
  • Hairdryer
  • Flowerpot for the entrance (a plastic one is perfect)

Step-By-Step Guide

1. Start by taking the plastic flowerpot and placing it against the 30-gallon container. Use your Sharpie to draw an outline around the pot. This is the entrance.

2. make cutting the plastic a lot easier, you can use the hair dryer to soften the plastic.

3.  Once the plastic is soft enough, take the cutter and carefully cut around the circle. This isn't a job for younger children as this tool is extremely sharp.

4. Take the styrofoam slab and place it on the bottom of the container. Get the second tub and put it inside the large one.

5. Once the containers are aligned, use the Sharpie to draw another circle on the smaller container. Grab the hairdryer to soften the plastic and cut out the second hole.

6. When you are happy with the entrance, and have removed any sharp or jagged bits, place the small container inside the larger one. Fill the sides with straw. This helps insulate the cat house and will keep any moisture out.

7. Repeat steps 1 to 5 on the other side of the container that a cat has an exit point to escape.

8. For bedding, add more straw to the inside of the container. Don't use hay as this absorbs moisture and will get mouldy. Also, avoid loose newspaper, towels and blankets as these materials absorb heat, leaving the cats cold.

9. This is the trickiest part of the project. Take the flowerpot and cut the bottom off. Slide it through the entrance. Do this bit carefully, shaving off any extra plastic so that the flowerpot 'tunnel' fits comfortably.

10. To finish off, place the lids on both containers. If need be, put something heavy on top to stop it from blowing off.

Tip - Remember to place the shelter on a dry surface, preferably raised off the ground. Make sure it is stable and can't topple over.

And there you have it! A quick, easy and affordable outdoor shelter solution for those stray cats that have stolen your heart.

Setting Up An Outdoor Cat House - Useful Tips and Handy Advice

1. Depending on where you live in the UK, the shelter should be raised off the ground. In areas that experience heavy snowfall or flooding, 46cm from the ground is advised. In counties with moderate weather, we suggest raising it at least 30cm from the floor.

There are a few ways you can do this, including:

  • Place the shelter on bricks or concrete blocks
  • Put it on a raised patio
  • Attach legs to the shelter

2. If you can't raise the shelter off the ground, cut the entrance approximately 5cm from the bottom to stop water from getting in.

3. If cold weather is a concern, place a self-heating blanket inside the shelter. This will keep stray kitties warm and cosy using their own body heat.

4. Encourage stray moggies to use the shelter by placing some catnip or other treats inside. Feel free to place dry food in the shelter. Water should be kept outside so that it doesn't spill over and wet the bedding.

5. Remember to check on the shelter regularly and replace old bedding. Top up food and water bowls. Make it as comfortable as possible as your shelter may be the only safe and warm spot for the stray cats in your community.

How To Make An Indoor Cat House

An indoor cat house is quick and easy to make. And it will provide your cat (and you) with hours of fun and entertainment. Let's take a look at how you can make one using a cardboard box.

What you will need:

  • A cardboard box (we recommend using a cube that is large enough for your cat to fit comfortably)
  • A cardboard sheet for the roof
  • Ruler
  • Box cutter
  • Hot glue gun, packaging tape or duct tape
  • Paint, ribbon, coloured Sharpies (optional)

Ready to get started? Take a look at our step-by-step guide below.

1. Use the box cutter and ruler and cut off two of the flaps. Cut the other two flaps into triangle shapes. These will be part of the roof.

2. Take the cardboard sheet and fold it in half. Remember to include an overhang.

3. Heat the glue gun (be careful not to burn yourself) and attach the cardboard roof to the house.

4. Use a sharpie to draw windows and a door. You can do this freehand too if you prefer. Once done, cut them out with your box cutter. 

5.  This step is optional. Decorate your kitty's cardboard condo with pens, paints and ribbon.

Tips For Setting Your Cat's Cardboard House Up

1. The doors and windows allow you to look in and see what your cat is getting up to. However, you can hang some fabric over the windows and doors to give your kitty some privacy.

2. There is no limit to how big the house can be. Add more boxes to make it a double-storey or place them side by side. Remember to cut holes in the attached boxes so that your cat has access to the different 'rooms'.

3. Accessories make a house a home. Put your moggy's favourite blanket and toys inside the house. If it is big enough, include a scratch post or collapsible tunnel.

4. It is best to keep food and water bowls outside the cat house. Spills and messes can make the cardboard soggy and cause it to collapse.

5. The great thing about this cat house is that it is portable, allowing you to move it from room to room. Better yet, make as many as you like and place them throughout your home.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cat Houses

We get loads of questions from our readers about cat houses. These include, amongst others, whether it is better to buy or make your own cat house, which materials are best for DIY houses, and why are they necessary? In this section, we answer all these questions, plus a few more.

Are Outdoor Cat Houses Necessary?

Whether it is for your cat or for the almost 10 million stray and feral cats in the UK, an outdoor cat house is necessary. Homeless cats need shelter from the elements and potential predators. They also just need somewhere they can feel safe and have a meal. But it can also benefit your roaming cat.

Is  It OK For Cats To Live Outside?

Stray or feral cats are resilient and can live outside. But during the winter months, especially in freezing temperatures, they can do with a helping hand. Because they use more energy in the colder months to stay warm, providing them with shelter, food, and water to help them survive.

Should I Buy A Cat House Or Make One?

If it is for your cat, we suggest buying an outdoor house with a fitted microchip cat flap. However, if you want to provide shelter for a few feral or stray cats, making it yourself may be more budget-friendly.

What Materials Can I Use To Make A Cat House?

You can use pieces of wood for an outdoor cat house, an old dog kennel, a styrofoam cooler or plastic storage containers. You could also turn an outdoor shed into a cat house. A styrofoam or cardboard box or pieces of cardboard can be used to make a cat house.

What Should I Put In A Cat House?

Outdoor cats need insulation, food and water. Straw is an expensive option to help homeless moggies stay warm, or you can use a self-heating blanket. Treats and food can also be placed inside the shelter. Water should be kept outside, though. Indoor houses can have toys, scratch posts and your cat's favourite blanket. We suggest keeping food and water out of the cardboard house.

How Do I Encourage Stray Or Feral Cats To Use An Outdoor House?

While the old adage 'built it and they will come' holds true for people, it isn't necessarily the case for feral or stray cats. To encourage homeless cats to use the house, we suggest placing tasty treats or catnip inside. You should also make the space inviting with plenty of straw for them to burrow into.

Can A Cat House Be Used All Year Round?

Cat houses, especially outdoor ones, can definitely be used all year round. Yes, cats need shelter from the cold months, but they also need a dry, safe space during the rainy seasons and a place to cool off when it gets hot.

Hopefully, you have found this article helpful and feel motivated to make your very own cat house. We would love to see photos of your creations, so feel free to leave a picture and a comment below.