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DIY Cat Shelter Tutorial

DIY Cat Shelter Tutorial

If you’re on social media much, you probably saw the videos encouraging viewers to make shelters for cats and other small animals to use during the winter (if not, here ya go!). We decided to make one ourselves, particularly motivated after receiving a flier for a missing cat in our neighborhood, and put together this little cat shelter tutorial for you!

Why make a cat shelter?

Offering shelter in your yard in the form of a this DIY tote turned home, providing plants, bushes, or rock piles, or leaving some of your yard a bit more wild (reduced leaf clean up and mowing) can help maintain or increase species diversity. You can make this even more environmentally friendly by recycling materials or finding them at the thrift store, though this can be tough especially when it comes to looking for something drastically out of season (like a cooler!). I shopped around for several weeks but could only find two of the required items to reuse/re-purpose – the tote and the hay (left over from autumn decor) – but we do what we can. Some is better than none! 🙂

DIY Cat Shelter Tutorial


  • Plastic storage tote
  • Foam cooler
  • Hay (or towels or other scrap fabric)
  • Old towels
  • Mylar emergency blanket or mylar bag for keeping groceries hot or cold
  • Packing tape or duct tape


Begin by cutting a feline-sized square in the storage tote, and then a matching square in the foam cooler. You can carefully use a box cutter or other blade, but if you have access to a jigsaw that makes the job much easier and faster. Line the bottom of the tote with hay or towels. Wrap the mylar blanket or grocery bag (cut into a flat sheet first) around the foam cooler, taping in place. Place the foam cooler inside the tote, then continue to fill inside the tote, around the cooler and on top, with hay or towels. Put the lid back on the tote, and place outside to wait for visitors! We chose a spot at the edge of our property where we’ve already seen cats, foxes, and other small animals visit frequently. We turned the entry to the tote away from the yard too.

DIY Cat Shelter Tutorial DIY Cat Shelter TutorialDIY Cat Shelter Tutorial

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