Thursday, February 22, 2024
cat behaviorcommunity catsDaily Featureferal catsMonday

Temporary Winter Cat Shelters

feral cat shelter
The feral cat lounge with cat shelters on the porch with tarps hanging from the roof.

I spent a lot of last week and weekend advising people on winter cat shelters and distributing some materials I had on hand. Most of us have enough stuff on hand to be able to throw something together that will keep a cat warm enough to get through a few days. Here’s an idea above, and Neighborhood Cats sent out a newsletter with instructions for an emergency winter cat shelter made from a cardboard box, and I thought I’d share that, below.

The photo above is of Denise’s porch with the “feral cat lounge.” A number of her cats get along well enough that they will use shelters that are grouped in this way, and it also shows a way you can build sheltered spaces, even temporarily, for cats outdoors, especially if they won’t use the official shelters.

A tarp is wrapped around two sides with the house wall on one other. The entry side is open; there are steps leading up to the porch. There is also a piece of wood or cardboard blocking a portion of that entry just to cut down on the amount of wind that can get in there.

There are a few actual shelters but the rest is made from cardboard boxes tucked here and there and blankets wrapped around the table and chairs in the back. There are also blankets in some of the shelters and boxes. Straw is best for shelters because blankets hold moisture—another person had no idea how much until the extreme cold hit and she realized the blanket in a shelter looked fine but was frozen stiff. Putting out a blanket at the beginning of a cold snap works for a few days but it will still hold moisture, just from a cat with wet paws. Denise washes and changes the blankets weekly.

Emergency DIY Cardboard Box Shelter

From Neighborhood Cats:

“Extreme cold is now gripping much of the U.S. and the arctic temps are expected to continue for the next several days. Outdoor cats without access to shelter are at risk of hypothermia and frostbite so if you see cats in need it’s important to act quickly. An emergency shelter is simple to make – all you need is a cardboard box, plastic sheeting or large trash bags, duct tape and shredded newspaper – but it will provide life-saving warmth through the most severe weather and/or until something more permanent can be arranged.”

Here is the link to the rest of the explanation with pictures. It’s just a few paragraphs and has other tips included. You might want to keep it on hand just in case!

And thank you for caring for community cats!


Neighborhood Cats Newsletter (

Other Resources

Alley Cat Allies: Winter Weather Tips (

Top Ten Tips on Caring for Ferals in Winter ( from the ASPCA

Read more articles about Health and Safety and TNR.

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"A Rosy Glow", pastel on velour paper, 10" x 10", 1996 © BernadetteE. Kazmarski
“A Rosy Glow”, pastel on velour paper, 10″ x 10″, 1996 © BernadetteE. Kazmarski

My favorite feral…I looked in the dining room and there was Moses in the middle of the floor—Moses, who walked about under and behind the furniture, who never left herself vulnerable, who never had a nap in an open spot, like the middle of the floor. And yet there she was, and she was looking pretty confident and relaxed. She had never done anything like this before. She was nine years old. Read more, and purchase.


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Weekly schedule of features:

Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life

Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters

Tuesday: Rescue Stories

Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork

Thursday: New Merchandise

Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy

Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats

And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!





From health and welfare to rescue and adoption stories, advocacy and art, factual articles and fictional stories, "The Creative Cat" offers both visual and verbal education and entertainment about cats for people who love cats, pets and animals of all species.

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