How to build your own cat house

Building a small, warm, and cozy house can protect a vicious cat’s life in wintertime. These are easy to make from scrap lumber or a plastic storage container if you have little carpentry experience. The indoors version is even more convenient and will entertain your cat and yourself as it runs through cardboard boxes.

Find building materials

Out-of-doors cats need protection from cold, rain, and wind. Use strong building materials or reuse an available container.

Try these materials:

Plastic storage container (about 35 gallons)

Old doghouse from a neighbor or a friend

Plywood or lumber (8′ x 4′) sheet, or scrap

Size it For a Snug Fit 

The body heat of a cat can warm up a small space. There are no specific dimensions to aim for, but the biggest cat house is about 26″ x 26″ x 32.”

If you are using an available container much bigger than the said dimensions, you may cut it to size or divide it using plywood.

The dog house directions will work for the cats, too, with the changes mentioned. You can use these if you are building the house from plywood or lumbar.

Make The Roof Removable

A detachable roof helps you change soiled bedding and check on a wounded animal if it strays in. You can attach the top to the wall using a hinge if you plan to build it yourself. If you are using a plastic storage container, you can use the lid for a roof. Once the house is completed, you can use rocks or any heavy objects to weigh it down.

Raise The House Off The Ground

You should build the shelter on a raised platform if you expect floods or snowdrifts in your area. For most places, eighteen inches in height is enough, and for someplace, about twelve inches or less will work in places with the lesser effect of the weather. There are multiple solutions available:

Keep the shelter on a raised or covered patio.

Store the shelter on stacks of lumber scrap, blocks of concrete, or other solid objects. The pile must be wholly sturdy and flat.

Enclose it with heavier items if required to prevent collapse.

Keep it on a strong plywood sheet raised off the ground by four legs fixed with coated deck screws.

Create an Entrance and Exit

Cats fancy houses with two doors so that they can escape from predators smelling in one. Cut two six inches by six-inch doorways on different sides. If using plastic, cover the sharper corners with duct tape.

If the house is not on a platform, you can cut the doorway about two inches above the ground to avoid flooding from rain.

If the house is on a raised platform, you can cut the side’s entrance with a ledge. Create the exit elsewhere with no shelf underneath it, so predators can’t easily reach it.

For additional warmth, staple or paste canvas drop cloth over the insides of each doorway.

Water Proof the Shelter

The roof should be waterproof. If you are utilizing a plastic storage tub, then it is not required. In case you are using lumber or plywood, or doggy house, sand and paint it to protect it from rain or snow. It is better to cover the roof with the roofing material for severe protection and further insulation.

Insulate the Walls and Roof

A cat house made with lumber will be warm enough without insulation, but any other material used requires insulation. You can paste each wall with a 1″ thick foam padding board from a home renovation store. Leave a 3″ gap at the top of the walls. Add a section of foam on top of the barriers to protect the roof.

In places where the winter is severe, use Mylar instead, reflecting the cat’s body heat. You can also line the floor with Mylar. Use the utility knife to cut the foam.

Fill The House With Burrowing Materials

Place lots of straw on the floor without obstructing the doorways for the cat to burrow in for extra warmth. In the absence of straw, use pillowcases loosely filled with packing shredded newspaper or peanuts. Don’t use hay, and it could cause allergies by absorbing moisture. Never use blankets, loose newspaper, or towels. These things will absorb the body’s warmth and chill the cat. Few cats will consume the packing peanuts, which can induce intestinal blockage. You can double pack them with pillowcases to minimize the risk.

Provide Food and Water

You can serve the food inside the shelter but leave the water outside to avoid spilling. Keep the water bowl nearby. In conditions below freezing temperature, use an electrically heated water bowl. If your budget doesn’t permit, use thick plastic or ceramic dish and enclose it with styrofoam.

Lure Cats in with Catnip

Invite wild cats into the shelter with a little amount of catnip just inside the doorway.

Indoor Cat House

Find Several Cardboard Boxes

For the indoor cathouse, a Styrofoam or cardboard box creates an exceptionally comfortable house. You can make it from ridged cardboard, sheet board, or any other lightweight substance, but an existing box will be much stronger. If the container is smaller than two feet by three feet, you will need multiple boxes to make the house big enough. Don’t use any material which you want to reuse because cats may bite the cardboard or Styrofoam.

Cut a Couple of Doors

Use a utility blade to cut through one of the cardboard cartons. Every doorway should be six inches (15 cm) high to fit the cat conveniently.

Cut a couple of tiny windows or strips to observe if you want to see the cat while it’s playing inside.

Paste rags or extra cloth over the doors and windows so you can give your cat some solo time.

Tape On Additional Boxes

Add a couple of additional boxes to create extra room for your cat’s home. To create a second story, cut a six-inch hole in the roof and attach another box upside-down over it. There should be enough room for the cat to walk on the floor. Use duct tape, packing tape, or any other strong tape.

Make it Cozy and Fun

Add a cat bed inside or a small blanket. A rough towel or a scratching post for the cat to scratch on something. You can also provide a toy for your cat. If you have a double story cat house, put an additional fun toy on the topmost level, so the cat has fun working to reach it.


Most of the cats have trouble adjusting to new places. Check the outdoor shelter for any repair or maintenance before the arrival of winter. If your cat has already found a cave, then don’t change it. Build an outdoor shelter for any stray cat which is staying around you. Make sure to keep the hole warm and cozy and clean the bowls every day.