In late January 2007 the weather was getting very cold because of the constant wind chill and I realized that the cats, particularly Doodle and Ollie, were shivering. I was beside myself trying to come up with a solution for them. I ended up running to my computer and I Googled "winter cats shelters" and was instantly linked with a list of potential websites. The site I focused on was www.neighborhoodcats.org because they had a few suggestions that seemed doable. The design that caught my eye was one made from 2" pink insulating styrofoam.
My husband, being as soft in the head as I am about cats, took me by the hand and off we went to our local home building supplier. We purchased the necessary supplies then returned home to begin construction. We don't have a real basement in our house so we have to work in our driveway when it requires the tablesaw and other messy tools. So there we were in the freezing cold cutting the stryrofoam into the appropriate sized pieces to make two sleeping shelters for my ferals.
We assembled the shelters on the dining room table with help from Teika
It took about 24 hours for the caulking to dry but once it was I took the shelters to my ferals. The instructions suggest painting the exterior of the shelters so they blend in with the surroundings but it was more important to me to get the shelters in place for the cats. Fortunately at that location the shelters were also out of site so I wasn't too concerned about the bright pink styrofoam being seen by anyone.
In the summer of 2008 after using the shelters for two winters, the shelters were discovered and removed. The land between the two commercial buildings was so overgrown it was perfect for the cats and nothing could be seen until one was right at Kitty City. All the overgrowth was cut down and removed which forced me to yet again move the colony.
Now the shelters are all located in a little alcove further back so again they are not visible to anyone unless they walk way to the back. I rebuilt two feeding shelters and this time because I was not in such a panic, I constructed four shelters and painted the exterior. I had a bit of leftover paint from another project and it was a good colour. So the kitchen counter was were I did the assembly, this time with the help of Boomer
The current location of the shelters is a good one because they are tucked up against a building on one side, a very high wooden fence on another side and a chain link fence on the third side.
A few days after making these changes I arrived to find Spirit had tucked himself into the pile of leaves. As the days passed, he burrowed deeper and deeper into his leaf cave. The only way I can tell if Spirit is in residence is if he opens his eyes to look at me. He seems very content to sleep away the day in his little leaf cave. His cave is the black hole in the leaves near bottom right of photo.
If you visit the www.neighborhoodcats.org website you will find a full set of instructions, along with a materials list for these shelters. They are easy to make and easy to transport but they do need to be secured so they don't blow away.
Our weather usually comes in from the north and west so ideally the shelter entrance should be on the south side. However because of the location I was only able to have the entrance on the north side.
Also keep in mind that it is not a good idea to feed the cats too close to their sleeping shelters unless all left over food is removed daily before dark. The food will attrack other animals. One of these days I will do a post about Mr. Stinky, the skunk who took up residence beside the feeding shelter two years ago. He has left but it was a very uncomfortable winter for me knowing he was right there.