Winter Shelter for Outdoor Cat

Meet Noah, a year-and-a-half-old ex-stray (as of this past summer) who needs a house for the winter.

noah-watchesMeet Ray, my charming husband who truly cares about Noah having a warm house this winter. Ray has self-taught carpentry skillz that have benefitted stray cats for a couple dozen years.

We had an old dog house, used for years by other strays, and we had a huge roll of carpet padding. Ray cut the padding to fit the top of the dog house, and taped it into place.

Next, the padding was used to … um… pad the bottom of the house, along with the sides. I added Noah’s bed.


And then I added a blanket and a self-heating pad. We put the top back on and then left Noah to investigate and make this wonderpurr house his very own. Ray wanted to put the house up on cinder blocks to get it off the cold cement, but Noah demands to have all four paws on the ground at all times. He does not climb trees, much less climb chairs or even his cat tree. I put an old chair pad under the house to absorb the cold cement.bundling-with-self-heat-pad-and-blanket

Unfortunately… this stray cat is a wee bit skeptical about his winter shelter. And, cat’s being cats… I knew if I didn’t make changes, he would sleep under a tree all winter. As Noah is about a year and a half, I’m kinda thinking he’s slept under a lot of trees in his short lifetime. But I can’t let that happen without trying to make him happy.

So I chopped down the bottom padding so it fit perfectly, and I rearranged the blankets to fit a little better. I noticed one night Noah was asleep under the porch cat tree, so I gave him yet another self-heat pad and I blocked the wind with an old chaise lounge pad. Then I butted the house up against all this to create Noah’s Camp.


Yes, that’s Noah asleep inside his Camp. I have a heat lamp ready to go on really cold nights, but I could use other ideas about how to get Noah inside his new home. Any suggestions are sincerely welcome.

Just because you make a stray cat a winter shelter doesn’t mean he’s going to think it’s as purrrfect for his needs as you do. Most strays have had a hard life, and along with that hard life comes mistrust, especially of containers. I don’t know if Noah has had scares with live traps, but I’m guessing he has. He’s still in need of vaccinations and neutering, but I’ve worked very hard all summer to get him to lie at my feet for a body rub. Now he trips me as I step out the door, and demands lots of body rubbing. And slowly he’s been rolling onto his back to expose his belly. Slowly.

The moral of this story is…You can’t rush a stray. You have to let them tell you want their needs are, and then you have to shelf your own ideas and go with theirs. Otherwise, they will leave to find a place where they aren’t being pestered.



About the author

Kimberley Koz


    • I’ve tried food, but Noah gave me the Stink Eye, like he thought I was a fool for trying to trick him. Since I posted, he is willing to use an exterior shelter to the house we padded. I set up a heatlamp and tarped the structure under the cat tree. He’s warm, but if it dips down below freezing, I think he will give in to using the house. He’s not a fool. Thanks Caren!

  • He looks a real lovely lad… Have you tried reverse psychology? My peep suggests literally insulating the outside rather than the inside… Then make the out side look how it used to be, and hey presto you have an insulated house with no actual inside change to put Noah off. purrs ERin

    • Erin, I think you’re right. An exterior insulation might be better. I’m going to work on that this weekend. Purrs! Kim

  • noah….ewe iz one handsum dood…we loves houz pantherz !! N trust uz when we say itz oh kay ta trust…..hermz mom & dad……we hope ewe will feel rite at home in yur new shelter…ITZ AWESUM !!!!!!!!

    hermz…..yur dad N mom total lee rock ~~~~~ 984 paws up two them for ther kindness N compassion two & for noah…….troo lee we meenz thiz….may they be blessed a bazillion fold for thiz…


    oh…..N we will bee off line til monday sew heerz two a pie filled noe burd happee week oh end two all ~~~~ ♥♥♥♥♥

    • Thanks for your 984 paws up, Trout Tabbies. We do our best to keep the strays from straying. While we cannot bring them all indoors, we go overboard when it comes to protecting them from danger and the elements. I figure if they show up in my yard and stay…that’s Divine Intervention. ~ Kim

    • Well, I think so too. Noah is new to the shelter idea. He’s been sleeping under the stars since he was born, so I realize there is an adjustment period. Thanks for stopping by! ~ Kim

  • Hi!!!

    I love seeing all the wonderful handiwork you & your husband have put into Noah’s winter home. Noah is truly a beautiful panfur. How does he feel about catnip? Does he respond at all to it? Maybe you could entice him to come in with the nip?

    • Hi Dusty! So far none of my cats are big on catnip. Not sure why. And yes, Noah is a gorgeous panfur man cat. He’s also a ladies man cat. I’m leaving Ray for Noah this weekend. ~ Kim

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