This article is Part Nine 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 previous installments in this series here:

Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six, Part Seven, Part Eight

In the previous installments, we made a plan, gathered all the materials,  assembled the insulation portion of the shelter, prepared the  plastic storage tub for the external “shell” of the shelter, created an opening in the shell for cat access, sealed and shaped the opening for the cat’s access to the shelter, and made a new piece to insert between the inner styrofoam insulation and the outer shell, to keep the straw around the insulation from falling out of the shelter and to keep bugs out.

Step Seven.   This step is where it all started to come together, piece by piece.  Shown here in the picture are the two main pieces:  the cooler, after it’s been custom re-designed, and the storage bin, after the entry hole has been made.

Cat shelter bin and cooler, prepped and ready to assemble. Photo by Cindy Read

Cat shelter bin and cooler, prepped and ready to assemble.
Photo by Cindy Read

On the left is the storage bin without the top.  On the right is the cooler.  Notice how it looks upside down, with the bottom cut off and taped with duct tape.  The bottom (which has now become the top) will eventually be duct-taped on one side so that it’s secure but can be lifted to change the straw when it needs to be refreshed.

What will happen next is to place the styrofoam cooler inside the storage bin, allow about 2 inches for the straw underneath the cooler as insulation, and make draw a 6-inch circle on the cooler at the appropriate height at one end (which will correspond with the opening in the storage bin when finished and assembled.)

Once the circle had been drawn (we did ours with a permanent marker) we used a cut-anything knife to gently carve out the circle into the end of the cooler.  One could probably use a regular kitchen knife as long as it’s sharp and easy to handle.   Styrofoam isn’t the most forgiving of materials, and there was quite a bit of white “pebbles” from the cut that dotted the floor as we worked.   You need a slow, steady hand to do the cutting and make the edges evenly round.

We discovered that if you get your hands wet under the faucet and then don’t dry them off completely, the styrofoam won’t cling to your hands as you work.  Nice trick to keep things neat!

Of course we also had to put duct tape all around the edges of the inner entry hole, for stability and to help keep the entry hole secure and dry.  Good thing we started with nearly a full roll of duct tape, because we sure used a lot of it on this project.

In the next installment, we will cover how this process went, with pictures for most steps.  Be sure to click through to each part and get the whole story!   It’s starting to look like our plan will actually work.  Will it?  Here’s a link to Part Ten.