Feral Cats - Part II: Building shelters and feeding stations for feral cats

 Update: Here is a helpful video tutorial to go along with Anna's post: 

Winter Cat Shelter Instructions from Anna:

By Anna Santillian

Winter Cat Shelter
Our friend Anna (pictured here with her beautiful orange boy, Shaman) is truly a champion for all animals. She has generously agreed to share her tips on building effective and lifesaving winter shelters for feral cats. Thank you Anna! You can visit Anna's Facebook page, Auntie's Cat Connection , for more information, photos and to share your ideas.

Building The Shelters


As winter is on our heels, our outdoor kitties will need our help more and more.  You can make them shelters and feeding stations out of materials you may have around the house or get for free from grocery stores.  Last year I had 2 big outdoor plastic garbage cans, I got boxes from the store, flattened them and used them to line the garbage cans for insulation, I then got straw (not hay, straw will wick away moisture they will track in and is excellent for insulation) (also do not use blankets, towels, rugs or the like in shelters as they will hold moisture from the cat's feet and fur and they will get chilled and cold).  This time of year straw should be easy enough to find at home improvement stores.  I stuffed straw between the cardboard and the plastic cans and then inside making a nice nest deep inside.  Laid both cans on top of plastic  milk crates to keep them off the ground and snow, had them facing each other with a board on top of the crates so the cats can step up into either garbage can which are facing each other.  I then laid a big plastic tarp over both and secured them by either tying them or placing bricks to hold the tarps in place, leave the middle where they walk into just a bit loose so they can go in, it should hang down to keep snow and wind from entering the shelters.

cat shelter   
build cat shelter  
black cat shelter
I have other ideas for shelters made with 2 bins with styrofoam insulation between them and stuffed with straw, or my other facebook page “Aunties Cat Connection”.


DIY heated shelter


build cat shelter
insulated cat shelter


Building a Feeding Station

black cat


For a feeding station, you can take a big plastic bin, lay it on its side, prop up the back with a long piece of wood so it’s tipped forward otherwise its sort of opened upwards, you don’t want rain and snow to easy go into it.  I lined mine with Styrofoam and foil covered bubble wrap insulation, then if the station is near your house, you can put an electric seedling mat inside to keep the food from freezing and give them warmth while they eat.  Use an outdoor extension cord and wrap where they plug into eachother with plastic wrap to keep the connection dry.  I then draped and secured clear thick plastic over ¾ of the opening to keep it dry, only leave enough of an opening for a cat to be able to go into it.  For a water source, I got a really big plastic dish saucer that you set potted plants in, and a heater coil, it keeps water from freezing in nearly any extreme. I put it on the ground on some bricks so all animals can drink from it, and keep it away from the feeding station so as to not encourage the raccoons from getting into the cat food.


shelter for cats

We had the Blizzard of 2011 in Chicago last winter, one of my ferals hid in the shelter I made him and on extremely cold days would spend time in the heated feeding station.This winter I made him new shelters, 2 bins inside of each other with an electric heated seedling mat inside one and the other filled with straw, his choice, and I changed out all the stuffing in the one he used last year.  (see video below)


Thanks for caring for our feline friends! They sure do appreciate our help.    

Thanks so much Anna!  We appreciate you so much, as do the feral cats you care for in Illinois!
Here is a video Anna took detailing this years' winter cat shelter:                   


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Great shelters you made for them! It’s always good to see people taking care of feral/stray cats. On behalf of all the cats out there; thank you!


cindy babev

Good ideas. I have 23 feral cats that either go under our house where there is a heater to keep the pipes from freezing or in the garage that is full of boxes and clothes. I finally have gotten all of them spayed or neutered with help from a feral cat org. It is great to see others value cat life too! Thank you!

Shirley Hawley

Hi! It’s me Anna. What a lovely job you did with my tips and pictures. I hope I was able to give some useful ideas so other kitties can benefit. Thanks so much for spreading the word.


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