If you are a follower of my blog, you already know that I am a huge animal lover. As a child, I would always try to save stray cats in the area near my home (my parents never let me keep any though!). So, it’s no surprise that I am still interested in helping street cats. One of the ways I want to help is by doing TNR (Trap, Neuter, Release). I took a class on this one day and learned about an easy and cheap way to make insulated housing for feral cats.
This is what you will need:
A styrofoam cooler (I saved mine from a delivery of raw cat food that I ordered online one day. The cheap ones from the drug store will work as well.)
A storage tote with latches that is slightly bigger than your cooler (measure inside dimensions of tote)
A jigsaw (a regular saw and drill will also work)
Straw or hay
As you can see from the picture, I did not do a good job of measuring and then buying the proper sized tote. I didn’t take into account that the dimensions listed on the tote were its total outside size – not the inside dimensions. My cooler was way too big! Thank goodness I had my dad on hand to assist during the project. (Okay, fine. He ended up doing the whole thing, but I directed him!) The best tote to buy is the kind with the latches. It will prevent the lid from flying away in the wind and it will allow you easy access for cleaning.
You can see that we cut off a big chunk of the cooler. This actually worked in our favor because it was one less hole that we had to cut for the door. Because our jigsaw floated away in Hurricane Sandy, my dad drilled 5 giant holes in the side of the cooler and used a little saw to cut out the door. It wasn’t as pretty as I wanted but most feral cats aren’t divas! When cutting your door, make sure to cut it several inches up from the floor so that rainwater does not flow into the house.
After the door was cut, we used sandpaper to smooth out the edges to ensure no cat gets scratched walking in or out. You will also see that we used the extra pieces of styrofoam to help insulate the cooler even more. If you don’t have extra styrofoam, you can use hay or shredded newspaper to fill in the empty gaps.
In the end, I felt like this housing was a bit small. I think only one cat will fit in there. Bigger is not always better though as bigger housing will allow more air to flow in, and it won’t stay as insulated. Include a layer of straw or a pillow stuffed with packing peanuts and shredded newspaper inside for comfort and be sure to check the housing every once in a while to make sure nothing is wet or soiled. If you don’t tape down the lid of the cooler, you can easily remove it to do the inspection.
Housing like this can help you earn a feral cat’s trust enough to catch it and get it fixed to avoid building a huge kitty condominium.
If you would like to learn about TNR, check out this site.