This article is Part Two of a 15-Part Article on How to Build a Feral Cat Shelter.  Since this is the first time we’d made a shelter, it’s perfect for newbies.  You can read Part One here.

So far, we have gotten some rough plans online, obtained all the materials and tools we would need, and are ready to begin the assembly process.

Step One.  The first thing we did, which thinking back was a good move, was to decide to invert the styrofoam cooler so that the “top” was the bottom and vice versa.  That meant that we had to use duct tape to seal the top all around the sides, inside and out, so that moisture couldn’t leak into it.  It needed to be sturdy.  And then we needed to make a cut across what used to be “the bottom” so that there would be a lid we could open to change the straw bedding when needed.

To make the cuts, we used one of those “cut everything” knives that was gifted to us some time ago and that we seldom use.  (I think it’s the kind of knife you see advertised on late-night TV.)   Since it’s supposed to be sharp enough to cut through metal cans, we figured styrofoam would be easy-peasy.  (We were right about that.)  There was a bit of “shedding” from the styrofoam but not as much as I feared there might be.

NOTE:  In general, we do NOT like (nor use) styrofoam, as it’s not at all eco-friendly.  But under the circumstances, this was about the only insulation option we could find.  If we’d had more time, we might have sought alternatives that would work just as well, and we recommend that, if you do have time, you look for something with less environmental impact that provides good insulation.

All in all, changing the container into something better suited for a cat shelter was a fairly simple process.  Now we had an upside-down styrofoam cooler, with the “top” held shut all around, inside and out, with liberal application of duct tape, so it would stay dry and seal in drafts when it got cold.

The new “top” — which was formerly the bottom of the cooler (remember, we turned this thing upside down so that the widest part would be the new bottom) —  needed to have some stronger structure.  We couldn’t just cut it and have a “loose” top.  So we did end up putting duct tape all around the edges of the new top as well, then at the end using duct tape to secure one side of it, so that it would open like a lid but remain attached.

Yes it was kind of funky, but we weren’t going for designer looks here — just function.

(Sorry, we didn’t take photos of that part of the process.  You will, however, see the results in subsequent photos.)

In the next installment in this series, we will show you the second step in the process.   Be sure to click through to each part and get the whole story!  Here’s a link to Part Three.