This article is Part Three 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 Parts One and Two here.

In the previous installments, we made a plan, gathered all the materials, and assembled the insulation portion of the shelter.  This step shows how to prepare the plastic storage tub for the external “shell” of the shelter.

Step Two.  Preparing the plastic tub was the next step in the process.  First, we had to decide where to place the opening for the cat to enter the shelter.  Partly because of where we planned to place the shelter in our yard, we decided to put the hole at one end (the short side)  rather than on the longer side.  The online instructions show a hole placed either way; it just depends on where the shelter will be placed, and where the access path for the cat will be.  Obviously, the location of the entry hole will need to be repeated on the inside insulated piece, so that the holes match up at the same height and size.

Probably the choice of where to put the entrance hole is optional and will depend in part on where you plan to put it and where the cat’s normal access path is.  You need enough space inside for the cat to enter and turn around safely.  A 6-inch entry hole at one end, or on the side, will both allow this.

Once we decided where the opening would be, then we had to decide how high above the ground the entry hole needed to be, and how much room to leave for straw insulation.  In order to figure this out, we first placed the empty styrofoam cooler inside the tub, to get a sense of positioning.  That helped us decide that it should be about 2/3 of the way from the bottom.  Cindy measured it to make sure there was enough room for the cooler when it was resting on about 2 inches of straw, and we drew a circle with permanent marker using a 6-inch-circle  template that Cindy had somewhere in her art supplies.  If you don’t have a template of the right size, you can use the top of a take-out container, a salad plate, or some other round object with a 6-inch diameter to draw the shape on the containers, so that you can make the cut in the material and create the right size hole for the opening.

So, first measure how high from the ground you want the hole.  Then draw a 6-inch circle on the outside of the plastic tub/container, using permanent marker.  You will also need to draw a circle on the inside container, too, but wait on that for a later step.  You’ll see why later on.

In the next installment in this series (Part Four) we will cover how this process went, with pictures for most steps.  Be sure to click through to each article and get the whole story!   Here’s a link to Part Four.