Building A Simple Cat Shelter in Minutes

There’s a beautiful black and white homeless cat that has lived outside our home for several years now. He wanders between several neighbors’ homes, but he has two homes that he actually calls “home” and that feed him daily—ours and our neighbor. His name is Alex and he’s lived outside for so long that he’s deeply afraid and distrustful of people. Building a simple cat shelter for Alex seemed like the right thing to do to protect him from the elements and give him a comfortable place to lay his head.

Alex appeared to have been abandoned many years ago, when he was a very young cat. He likely had been left homeless when his people moved away from the neighborhood, and left him behind. So Alex’s defenses were always up, he had learned to be on high alert to dangers, and he had become a scared, shy and cautious cat around humans. However, he trusted me enough to let me within about five feet to watch him eat and quietly talk with him. He always watches me carefully—eyeing my every physical move to see if I’m going to betray his trust. Over time though, Alex has come to know that I’m not a threat, but rather his friend who is just simply trying to make his little life better.

Building a simple cat shelter
Checking Out the New Cat Shelter!

I feed Alex and another feral cat on our backyard patio doorstep every morning and night. I love seeing Alex appear in our French door windows eating his warms breakfast and dinner (I add warm water to his wet food). As soon as I see his lithe black silhouette at the doormat, I come to the window and talk to him through the glass and let him know how happy I am to see his sweet face and inquiring eyes.

Building a simple cat shelter
Easy to Make Cat Shelter

With the recent heavy rains, coupled with the homecoming of one of our neighbors from long-term convalescent care (the other house that Alex shares his time), I seized the opportunity to tell our neighbor about possibly providing Alex some warm shelter under her back patio doorstep. He spends considerable time in her fenced in back yard, as it has provided a safe haven for him over the years. At our house, I bought Alex a pre-made “dog house” and I have several cat beds on top of patio chair cushions under the dining table tarp, so he can sleep and keep warm. So one day while I was talking with Dorothy our neighbor, I mentioned that we would be happy to build Alex a cat house out of a large plastic and Styrofoam box and bring it over. She welcomed the idea (she’s as fond of Alex as we are), so we went to work that night on building a simple cat shelter.

Building a simple cat shelter
First Cat Inside!

I got this simple and inexpensive idea from a feral cat website. For $10-15 dollars you can buy a large plastic container from Home Depot, Target or any home-building store. And to make it even warmer, add a Styrofoam cooler that goes inside the plastic tote. This provides much better insulation from the cold ground and the elements, and makes it warmer and cozier for them.

Put the Styrofoam tote inside the large plastic container and cut out a cat door at one end of the plastic for an entrance, ideally about 6″ around and in the middle, so it’s off the ground. Do the same for the Styrofoam tote that is inside the plastic container, so the door openings match. You want to make it only large enough for a cat to get through the door, but not a raccoon or a possum. You can take the cut-out and make a roof above the door for the rain, but it’s not necessary.

The best insulator for flooring is straw because it will stay dry and will resist getting wet and damp. But if you don’t have access to straw, add a couple of warm, soft fleece blankets inside (NOT cotton or wool). You can buy fleece blankets at Target, or even CVS during the winter. Place the Styrofoam cover on top of the Styrofoam box inside the larger plastic box, then put the plastic cover on top to close the plastic container, and you’re all set! It’s that simple.

Put your cat house in a place that’s out of the sun as plastic degrades and off-gasses. We recommend placing it under a tarp, roof, eve or where it’s shady all day and very private. Homeless cats care about safety and will not use a closed-in shelter like this if there’s any risk to them of other cats or wildlife cornering them.

Now our Alex will have a house that keeps him warm and dry from the rain. Hopefully, his little life will be just a little bit better now!

Building a simple cat shelter
Simple Cat Shelter Constructed in Minutes!


Post Script:

In spring 2015, I trapped Alex and he is now living inside our home with our other rescue cats. Here’s the story of his rescue.

How to Create a Happier, Stress-Free Environment For Your Cat

Sometimes change is unavoidable for our cats, like moving into a new home, bringing home a new baby, having house guests, or adopting a new dog or cat. All of these can truly rock a cat’s world and trigger behavior changes. Sometimes even the slightest change can cause some cats to become uncomfortable, fearful, stressed, and anxious. Here’s how to create a happier, stress-free environment for your cat and ways to enrich their environment at home.

Cats are very vulnerable to changes in their life, and they will often show us when they are feeling anxious and uncomfortable by hiding more often, obsessively licking or vocalizing more, uncontrollably chewing or drooling, sleeping all day or more than normal, urine marking or even potting outside the litter box. Sometimes external changes in the cat’s home environment can even negatively impact your cat’s overall health and quality of life.

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Safety and Protection Checklist for Cats

Cats are curious animals, and because of it, they can get themselves into trouble at times. This list of dos and don’ts will help you be a more responsible guardian of your cat, and help to keep your cat safe from harm; free from unnecessary injury and accidents; free from unnecessary disease and suffering; and keep your cat as healthy and happy as possible!

Some Don’ts

DON’T let your cat roam free in the neighborhood.

DON’T leave your cat unattended in your car. NEVER leave a cat inside a car on a warm or hot day, even for one minute.

DON’T re-home or give your cat away. Always try to keep your cat even when life requires making unexpected changes or facing unexpected challenges. If you must re-home your cat, be sure to screen and interview the potential adopters in person for their experience and history with cats; learn everything about them and meet all family members that live in the home; check their work/landlord/school/personal references; and visit their home in advance to make sure the cat will have a safe and loving environment to live. Here is a list of tips for preparing to adopt a cat.

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Signs of Dehydration in Cats

Your cat’s body is made up of 70-80% water or three-quarters of your cat’s body weight is water, so it’s critical that your cat gets enough fluids daily to maintain good health and prevent dehydration. Water is essential for cat’s urinary and kidney health, circulation, digestion, and waste removal. With hot summer days now upon us, it’s even more important that your cat has access to and drinks enough water, as dehydration can lead to a number of serious medical problems and even death. Here are the signs of dehydration in cats and why it’s so important to treat dehydration immediately.

Why Hydration is So Important

Dehydration happens when your cat loses body fluids faster than he can replace them, and it can happen when your cat is either not drinking enough water or is losing too many fluids. Fluids lost through daily urination, elimination and respiration all need to be replaced to normal levels everyday. But if your cat hasn’t been drinking enough water; has been vomiting or has diarrhea; or has been ill or had a fever; or your cat is old, then rehydration is even more critical as all of these can leave your cat severely dehydrated.

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Tips for Keeping Your Cat Safe On July 4th

Tips For Keeping Your Cat Safe On July 4th
Keep cats inside on July 4th!

The July 4th holiday may be a fun time for us humans, but it’s a stressful, terrifying time for cats. The sound of fireworks can frighten cats and send them running for cover or bolting out the door. Explosions – even miles away – can cause cats to panic. Every year, animal shelters around the country are suddenly flooded with scared, lost cats and dogs that could have been prevented with some simple precautions.

You can make the July 4th holiday less stressful for your cat by thinking ahead and following some simple tips to protect them and keep them as comfortable as possible.

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10 Important Considerations in Preparing to Adopt a Cat

Adopting a kitten or adult cat is a long-term responsibility and commitment. It’s a decision you want to give careful thought to and be prepared for, not one to take lightly or impulsively. Owning a cat is a large financial and emotional responsibility lasting anywhere from 14 to 22 years, typically. Your cat will depend on you for its health, happiness, safety and well being, so here are 10 important considerations in preparing to adopt a cat.

Renting Your Home? Check with Your Landlord First

If you live in an apartment or rental property be sure to confirm with your landlord beforehand that cats are allowed and know whether a pet deposit is required. Avoid adopting a cat and bringing it home, only to find out the landlord does not accept pets.

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How to Afford the Cost of Veterinary Care

When you adopt a cat, you aren’t thinking about the day when your cat may become ill, or get injured, or need emergency care. But cats do get sick and sometimes do require expensive diagnostic tests and emergency care. You may be faced with veterinary expenses far beyond what you can afford, or need unexpected medical care that you didn’t anticipate and don’t know how you’re going to pay for it. Of course, you want to make the best decision for your cat, regardless of the cost, but how to pay for it? Here’s how to afford the cost of veterinary care.

I have been in this situation countless times with our many rescue cats. So often, I have needed to pony up and pay for complicated dental care, full-mouth extractions, multi-day emergency hospitalizations, or treating kidney failure to the tune of thousands of dollars—and I had no idea how we were going to pay for it.

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Preventing and Treating Fleas in Cats – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

We love what spring represents—new life, animals reawakening from their slumber, plants bursting with new buds, and warmer weather—but with spring also come the fleas! Fleas can wreak havoc on cats causing discomfort, severe skin conditions, allergic reactions, parasites (tape worms), anemia and even death in the worst cases, if left untreated. So it’s important to protect your cat from fleas, but it’s also important to know the dangers of some flea control products on the market today. In this article, you’ll become knowledgeable about the different flea treatment options, some of the health consequences associated with them, and you’ll learn ways to provide your cat with the safest possible flea treatments and precautions available. Here’s the good, the bad and the ugly on preventing and treating fleas in cats and the options available.

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Don’t Ignore the Signs of Dental Disease in Cats

Cats Need Dental CareFebruary is Dental Awareness Month, so it’s a perfect time to start the year off right by providing good dental care for your cat. Dental or periodontal disease can lead to many serious health and medical issues if left untreated. And untreated dental disease can be very painful for your cat and can even cause them to stop eating. The key to good dental care and managing dental disease is prevention.

Dental disease and oral tumors can start in cats as young as 1-2 years old so it’s important to have your cat’s mouth, gums and teeth evaluated starting when they are young. Gum disease is an infection that results from a build-up of dental plaque or bacteria on the surfaces of the teeth around the gum line. If plaque is allowed to accumulate it can lead to infection in the bone surrounding the teeth. The gums will then become inflamed causing bleeding and oral pain. Inflammation can progress affecting both soft and bony tissues causing gum disease, bone loss, and periodontal damage. When severe periodontal disease is present bacteria from the mouth can enter the bloodstream and damage the kidneys, heart and liver.

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The Importance of Annual Physical Exams for Cats

Maybe you adopted a new cat or have had your cat for years now—in either case annual physical exams are highly recommended for maintaining the optimal health of your cat. Your cat may be low-maintenance, but that’s no reason not to take them for a wellness exam every year. This article will highlight the reasons why annual physical exams for cats are so important.

Cats mask when they are sick or feel bad—they can hide suffering and pain very well, it’s an evolutionary trait—so you may not know that they’re suffering. And just because your cat lives indoors doesn’t mean they can’t get sick, or don’t have a congenital or chronic disease, bacterial or viral infection, severe tooth decay or gum disease, inflammation causing health issues, or a possible stress-related illness. All of these are possible for indoor-only cats.

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