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Our outside cat Wolfie is now very much an indoor cat. Here is he above basking in the sun on the window ledge. We brought him inside to recuperate following a visit from the vet after he developed a limp. His ears needed a good clean as well and we wanted him to have his vaccination booster. It’s been a year now and he doesn’t seem to want to go outside again. I’m happy that he’s safe and cosy indoors now but not so sure if Lyra is as happy!

Wolfie the stay cat who adopted me is getting a new home. I don’t mean he’s leaving me, I’d never let that happen, he’s part of our family now.  I mean I’ve ordered a new bespoke outside cat shelter for him.  Last year, after being unable to find his owner despite extensive poster distribution I made him a temporary shelter out of a cardboard box. It was pretty neat if I do say so myself and kept him lovely and warm in the cold winter months. William got me a temperature device which I could place inside the shelter and read from the outside and even on the coldest days it would be about 21 degrees in there.

It really was only a temporary shelter though as I had hoped by this time that he would have become tame enough for me to handle him and introduce him to Lyra my inside cat.  Unfortunately, I don’t know what has happened to him in the past but after a year he has only just started to give me a friendly headbutt when I put his food down. He has let me stroke his head once for a couple of times and even then he became suspicious very quickly and tried to swipe me because I was lingering too long by his food.  So as Autumn is just around the corner again I have decided to give him a more permanent and bigger outside cat chalet.  I am finalising the design now with Mark at Woodenart the company who are going to make it but it will be based on this one here – only bigger with a dividing panel.

I hope Wolfie’s likes it.  I do feel for him being outside all the time but I guess he likes his freedom and we can only take it one step at a time.

 

Home Sweet Home

Making an outdoor cat shelter couldn’t be easier.

You will need these materials:

Get a fairly strong cardboard box with dimensions of roughly:

Height 15 inches, Length 21 inches Width 21 inches.

2 catflaps

2 sheets of plastic glass per window (approx. 8″x 6″) to make double glazing.

Roll of Thermal Insulation

50 Metres (approx) of Gaffer Tape

4 or 5 strong bin liners (garden or building liners also good)

Bag of Straw

Method:

I couldn’t find a box the right size so I made one from other boxes, cutting it to the correct size and adding a strip at the top to make it higher.

Cut holes for cat flaps and windows allowing room for the thermal insulation.  Best to start with the holes too narrow and keep widening them till you get the right size than being too big and having to start again with a new box.  I’ve put in two windows and two cat-flaps.  Some feral or stray cats prefer having an escape route so two cat-flaps is ideal.  I think it is best to position the cat- flaps and windows so that there is at least part of a solid wall for the cat to snuggle up against and so that it doesn’t create a wind tunnel.  However you have to balance this with the cat being able to see out.  The shelter I have made here is just an example of what’s possible – you may wish to try different designs.  If you do I’d love to see what they look like to please send me a picture and I can post them here for others.

Start to line the box with the Thermawrap. I used this which I bought from Homebase here in the UK.

Lyra has come to help!

When you come to line the sides with the window and cat-flaps then start by covering the whole side then make 4 diagonal cuts  in the Thermawrap from the centre of the holes to the 4 corners. This will make 4 triangle shapes and  you can then bend the Thermawrap through the hole and tape to the outside of the box. Before you tape it though try the hole out for size by placing the cat-flap in the hole in case you need to widen it.

Phew the hole is big enough for a cat to climb through!

…and the box is big enough for her to stand up in!

Once you have the holes to the correct size you can then fit the cat-flaps and windows bearing in mind that you may need longer screws for the cat-flaps as the box with the Thermawrap will now be fairly thick. I managed just about but it was a struggle. If you look at the window on the right you can see where I have taped the Thermawrap to the outside of the box.

For windows I ordered 4 sheets of plastic glass (PETG) on-line from The Plastic People.  They offer an excellent service and you can have the plastic cut to size and specify what thickness you want and if you want holes in the corners.  I wanted double glazing so I allowed for 2 sheets per window, 2 mm thick, 8″ x 6″ with 4 holes in the corners.  In hindsight as the window area is so small  I probably would not have had the holes as the plastic is just as easy to fit using tape.  The holes make it more expensive and you need to bear in mind that they are positioned about an inch in so makes the window area smaller.

To fit the windows and make double glazing place a sheet of glass either side the cardboard.  Cut a hole in the cardboard smaller than the glass to allow for fixing it to the box.

Cover the box with extra strong bin liners securing in place with the gaffer tape to seal any gaps and make it waterproof.  I also made a little awning from a piece of cardboard covered with bin liner to put over the cat-flap for extra protection against the rain. Don’t place the box directly on the ground to protect from damp.  I got an empty polystyrene plant pot tray holder from my local pet shop and placed the shelter on top of that. Bricks are also good.

Here is an inside view.  Fill the inside with straw as it has good insulating qualities and doesn’t absorb moisture so should help to keep your cat warm and dry. Don’t use hay, clothing or blankets as these can absorb moisture and become mouldy.

I propped both cat-flaps open with sticks using a bit of tape to air out the shelter and encourage my stray to go inside as I don’t know whether he can use cat-flaps yet.

SUCCESS!  In the morning I went outside to call for Charlie to give him his breakfast and he came out of the shelter!  I don’t know if he had stayed there all night but at least he now has somewhere warm and dry to wait for meals.

I have been trying to take a picture of Charlie coming out of the shelter but it is fairly dark here in the mornings at 7am and I didn’t want to put the flash on in case it spooked him so this is the best I can do for now.  Will try with different camera to get a better shot in low light.

Glimpse of Charlie emerging from his shelter

Charlie eating his breakfast - as usual very suspicious of me!



Pensive, originally uploaded by William Robertson.

Just realised how long it has been since I posted last!  Hope you are all well?

This lovely but rather weather beaten cat has taken up residence in my garden.

Here is the new home I have created for him:

His new shelter is behind these flower pots. I filled a free recycling bin with straw.Hope he likes it.

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