Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Homemade, cheap, warm winter boxes for outside cats

Well, it's that time of year again. When we worry about our outside animals and whether they're warm enough. We have quite a few porch cats and in years past we've set up a sort of kitty condo of stacked crates and blankets, but this year I decided to try something different for them. I heard about this cheap, simple solution from a family member and I have to say, it was as easy and cheap as promised and the cats love it. So, without further ado, here is my tutorial for making a cat igloo.
Step 1: Cut a hole in the box

First you need to get one of those small, cheap Styrofoam ice chests. I don't know what size this one is, but it says it holds 24 cans and it cost about 2 bucks. Using a sharp knife cut a hole in one of the short ends of the ice chest. Cut the smallest hole you think your cat can fit through. I would recommend starting out with a hole you think is too small because you can always enlarge it later. The smaller the hole, the less cold air will be leaking in.
Step 2: Add a door flap
Next, you can add a door flap if you want a little extra cold-security. I used a slice from the leg of some coveralls with a layer of batting in the middle.  Make it just wider than your hole and long enough to hang a few inches past it, then glue it (I used hot glue) to the bottom of the ice chest below the hole (this will be the top of the finished cat igloo, so the flap will hang down).  
Step 3: Glue on the lid and flip the box over.
Next, using hot glue or another glue (not superglue, it melts Styrofoam), attach the ice chest's lid.  Flip the whole box over and, ta-da! It's a cat igloo!  I stuffed an old cushions through the door hole to pad the bottom of the box.
Step 4: Set in a sheltered place
Now all you have to do is set out your cat igloos in a sheltered place and introduce them to the local cats. Ours weren't too sure about the whole thing until it got pretty cold; now they're in there every night!  I've checked the temperature in the box when one of our cats was inside and it was nice and warm, even when it was near freezing outside.

I've seen similar ideas for colder climates that involved encasing a Styrofoam cooler inside a large plastic tub with a lid and packing straw (for insulation) between the two boxes.  Cut a hole through both boxes to make a doorway and you're all set.

Hope this helps somebody!

PS: I am up to 58 blocks out of 72 done on the Ocean Waves quilt!!

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