Materials:Styrofoam box (discarded at fish stores) approx. 30″ x 12″ x12″Scrap pieces of 2″ Styrofoam – approx 12″ x 6″ for the legs (you can use pieces of wood or bricks in place of Styrofoam)GE Silicone Window and Door or equivalent (with gun) – clear or whiteDuct TapeFour one foot squares linoleum or vinyl (two for bottom, two for top, to weigh it down). You can use bricks or stones in place of these (on top). StrawDeck or Porch paint – must be Latex and outdoor paint!Bubble wrap or clear shower curtain or tablecloth material (for door)Tools:Box cutter, utility knife, or (my preference) small sawRuler/yardstickMarking penScissorDrill (to drill a few drainage holes in the bottom)Paper or printed signs to label the sheltersOptional: Mylar blankets – to line inside of shelter.I used to put together shelters using 55 gallon Rubbermaid containers and 2 inch Styrofoam, but that became quite expensive. Recently, I learned how to make easy, inexpensive cat shelters from a great organization called Neighborhood Cats. Mine are slight variations from theirs. You can use your imagination to improve upon/change the design, as you like.Fish stores discard great Styrofoam boxes that vary in size. The ones I like to use are approximately 30″ x 12″ x 12″. You just rinse them out, let them dry, and begin. This is an optional step: to give the shelters some weight and stability, you can attach vinyl tiles, or wooden boards (or anything else that is heavy and flat) to the top and bottom using GE Window and Door Silicone (or equivalent) and reinforcing with duct tape. If you make the top heavy enough, you won’t have to place bricks on top.To cut a door, measure 2″ from one side and 2″ from the bottom. The door should be approx 6″ x 5 1/2 “. Then you cut two pieces of 2″ Styrofoam approx 12″ long and 6″ wide for the legs. Attach them to the bottom with GE Window and Door Silicone (or equivalent). Some web sites recommend making one side higher than the other and drilling a hole in the one (lower) corner to allow any water to drain. Another alternative is to keep the legs level, but to drill a couple of holes in the bottom so water can escape.You can line the containers with Mylar if you like for added insulation, but it’s not necessary (especially if you have to make them in a hurry). If you decide to line them with Mylar, do so before drilling the drainage holes. Painting is optional. If you do paint them, use a Latex deck or porch paint (and try to use a color that will blend into the surroundings where you plan to place them… you can even paint them in a camouflage motif.Attach the top on one side (the back) with duct tape. Create a door/curtain with two overlapping pieces of either clear heavy-duty shower curtain or tablecloth material OR (preferably) bubble wrap. After you fasten the two pieces, you can cut the material into strips (approx. 1 ” each or whatever works best for you), to make it easy for the cats to go in and out. You then fill the shelter with straw (I used to use hay until I found out it was more allergenic and could grow mold and mildew), so the cats can nuzzle into it to keep warm. Close the lid, and your shelter is ready to place. If you have not pasted anything on top to give the shelter weight, place a brick on top at both ends.I like to make a little sign saying that it is a feral cat shelter and part of a trap-neuter-return project, so people will (hopefully) less likely to disturb it.Please go to neighborhoodcats.org for more information about feral cats and how to care for them.Please keep in mind that, in a pinch, you don’t have to do all the embellishments. You can just take a styrofoam container, make a hole in it, stuff it with straw or hay (if you have it), elevate it on some bricks, and put a few bricks on top to keep the cover down and keep it in place.However, if you have the time, the embellishments improve the shelter and make it less visible and more esthetically pleasing (not to mention sturdier).By the way, some lumber yards and cabinet shops throw out scraps of various materials – like boards, mis-cut counter tops, chipped bricks, etc. You can find all kinds of excellent materials for free! : ) In fact, for feeding stations – probably a good subject for another video – (basically a box wrapped in plastic, placed on a base, and covered with a scrap board), a mis-cut countertop – usually wood or composite material, topped with formica – makes an excellent roof! Also, a big drawer from a discarded dresser makes a great base for a shelter if you don’t have time to glue on styrofoam legs (it’s great if you can drill a couple of holes in both the shelter and base, so that any water that gets in can seep out). You can also just elevate the shelter on bricks.Good luck!Rina Deych
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