Pet Furniture

Published on December 6th, 2012 | by Jules Yap


Cat Box for the Strays

Materials: 34-gallon Samla with lid, water heater insulation, Heavy-duty double sided sticky tape, old blankets or towels

Description: We have a stray cat family in our neighborhood that we’ve been feeding. They’ve been camped out in the dense shrubbery, but as it’s getting cold and wet, we wanted someplace warm and snug and out of the wind and rain for them.

I repurposed an Ikea Samla storage box. Using a Dremel tool with plastic cutter, I made a cat-sized hole in the end. We then filed the rough edges down with a rasp.

Using double-sided sticky tape (it’s a thick foam tape with great adhesion), I cut pieces of the water blanket insulation.

Depending on your weather, you can use heavier insulation, but you might have to make a double walled cat house using two Samlas if the insulation isn’t self-contained. There are instructions on the internet if you need more help.

In our case, we have fairly mild weather, so I used a roll of thin insulation. It’s sort of like aluminum colored bubble wrap. I cut it to fit, lining sides, ends, and bottom, then affixed it using that sturdy tape. I then cut sheets to go on the inside top of the box and fixed those with tape.

I then added a piece of memory foam that used to be a bed topper. The cats seem to love sitting on this stuff. On top of this I placed some scrap fleece fabric. Blankets, towels, anything washable would work. After I placed the lid on top, I added a sisal door mat, Hessum, I think. It gives them a place to curl up and hang out when the sun is out.

We have 100% occupancy, a mama cat and three kittens use it every night. (And yes, we are making sure all of them are spayed before they add any more kittens to the mix!) Total cost was under $30. and our strays now have a safe, snug place to stay.

~ Merry, California

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With FAKTUM/AKURUM in the Bathroom
Benno book shelves around the corner

The Author

Jules Yap

"I am Jules, the engine behind IKEAHackers and the one who keeps this site up and running. My mission is to capture all the wonderful, inspiring, clever hacks and ideas for our much loved IKEA items".

17 Responses to Cat Box for the Strays

  1. Anonymous says:

    This is great, the animal shelter I volunteer at as been making something similar to this for our catch, spay, and release ferals for a while. A tip to anyone else who wants to do this for their local ferals: Cut the door hole on the side and not the end so that the cats can have a space to hide from the wind versus when its on the end the wind blows straight at them. Also, cut the door a couple of inches higher up so that moisture has a tougher time getting in and place it on a couple of 2x4s or bricks to elevate it even more out of the reach of ground moisture. And like others said, straw is best! Hay is for eating, straw is for sleeping! In a pinch, shredded newspaper will work but will need to be replaced much sooner. Thank you really a lot for doing this Merry!

  2. Mitzi says:

    Update: the cats have been trapped, spayed and are now in my garage, with their warm box. Trying to get them used to people!

  3. idaXu Rais says:

    Thank you for sharing this. Will make something similar like this but with a lighter insulation as I live in Malaysia :D and
    thanks for doing TNR!

  4. I was thrilled when I opened IkeaHackers today and found a feral cat shelter! This has been a ‘pet’ project of mine (all puns intended) for a while now.

    I’d like to add some suggestions. As Merry said, for her location (mild weather) the water heater blanket insulation may be sufficient. For colder climes, more insulation will be necessary. The best idea I’ve found to insulate one of these totes is also the least expensive and least labor intensive solution I’ve seen: a styrofoam cooler, placed inside the tote and a door cut into it to line up with the door in the tote. In really cold climates, straw can be tucked in between the foam cooler and the bottom, sides and lid of the tote. Fill the cooler about a third of the way with loose straw (it’ll pack down into a nice ‘nest’ as the cats use it) while making sure the cat can still get in and out of the door.

    Another suggestion I have is the location of the door. It should have the bottom of the door at least 2″ above the bottom of the tote so rain doesn’t flood in from the ground and to keep the straw in the shelter. I’d also add some feet to the bottom of the tote to get it off of the ground and help it stay dry and warm. Some organizations recommend placing the door in the long side, near a corner so the cats can curl up away from the door, and the wind doesn’t blow directly into the shelter. When the cats are accustomed to going in and out of the shelter, a ‘door flap’ can be fashioned out of a clear piece of plastic sheeting and placed over the door to help keep out the wind/rain/snow.

    For more feral cat shelter ideas, check out Neighborhood Cats, Urban Cat League, or google “feral cat winter shelter”. For information on the Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR) program, visit Feline Friends to see why TNR is the best solution for feral felines.

    All of our cats were strays. We’ve had as many as 8 at a time; currently we have 3 indoor cats and working on socializing a stray (possibly feral) male so we can get him neutered this month. We’ve found strays to be the most loving companions. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough loving homes to go around. That’s why the TNR program is so important.

    Thanks Merry, for sharing your ‘hack’ and also for caring for these beautiful cats.

    • Shae says:

      I wouldn’t make the “door flap” out of plastic — plastic over plastic could seal out breathing air. I’d make it out of burlap or denim. If it’s on the long side of the home as you suggested it should keep cold air out well enough.

      All great ideas, everyone.

  5. Tass says:

    What a lovely, kind thing to do :)

  6. majeral says:

    That is very nice of you. Good idea too. You have a special place in heaven for you!

  7. Anonymous says:

    It is always nice to see someone exert effort to help our 4-legged less fortunate. Nice hack.

    I second the TNR suggestion. 4 million animals are euthanized in the US every year and that dosen’t include those that die of disease, predation, starvation, cars or human cruelty.

    Emma-If you haven’t already, you’ll need to clean your box with a cleaner that will neutralize the urine marking from the inconsiderate kitty. Vinegar or some kind of enzyme cleaner should do the trick. Be sure to clean every inch, even if you don’t see anything.

  8. Unknown says:

    Consider using straw instead of blankets and other rags. It is great for insulation and will keep the cats dry.

    • You’re right, Unknown. Straw is the ONLY material that should be used for bedding. Do not use towels, sheets, etc. as they absorb moisture and develop mildew. Hay is not recommended either. Some cats sneeze from the hay dust. It also absorbs moisture. I’ve opened plenty of moldy hay bales (which have to be discarded). Remember, animals eat hay and sleep on straw.

    • Oh, one more thing; I’m concerned that the memory foam will act like a sponge.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Nice idea with the insulation.

  10. Anonymous says:

    GREAT IDEA!!! not really a hack but very very nice and thoughtful usage of Ikea-box :)


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