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 How to Make An Outdoor Cat Shelter: UPDATE 11/11/10

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Honeysuckle
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PostSubject: How to Make An Outdoor Cat Shelter: UPDATE 11/11/10   Thu 07 Oct 2010, 09:17

Since first writing this I have discovered a couple of problems with this design so here us an updated version.

Below is a photo of the original emergency cat shelter. As it was coming up to winter and the weather became a whole lot colder I decided the the shelter could use some sort of additional heat source so I purchased a Snugglesafe Heat Pad. Unfortunately, the Heat pad is 8.5 inches in circumference and I couldn't get it in the standard size cat flap! So I had to purchase a large cat flap. Taking out the old one and putting in the new one was fairly straightforward however as I was doing this I discovered that where I had joined two bin liners together with duct tape at the top of the shelter rain had seeped through and ran down one side. So the top of the shelter and the bottom two corners of one side were a bit soggy. Fortunately, the thermal insulation had kept the inside dry! I didn't have another box so I removed the bin liner covering and dried out the corner and the top with a hairdryer. I then recovered the shelter with large heavy duty bin liners making sure that there was no join at the top of the shelter. In addition, I have now purchased a light-weight tarpaulin which I have folded and placed over the shelter and weighed it down with flower-pots and it forms a very effective waterproof blanket.

Original Shelter:



For new shelter

You will need these materials:

Get a fairly strong cardboard box with dimensions of roughly:

Height 18-20 inches, Length 20 - 22 inches Width 20 - 22 inches.

2 catflaps (One standard and one large)

2 sheets of plastic glass per window (approx. 8″x 6″) to make double glazing.

Roll of Thermal Insulation (Thermawrap)

50 Metres (approx) of Gaffer Tape or Waterproof Tape

4 or 5 strong wide bin liners (garden or building liners also good)

Small Lightweight Waterproof Tarpaulin

Bag of Straw

(Additional extras: Flectabed and Snugglesafe Heat pad)

Method:



I couldn’t find a box the right size so I made one from other boxes, cutting it to the correct size and adding a strip at the top to make it higher.

Cut holes for cat flaps and windows allowing room for the thermal insulation. Best to start with the holes too narrow and keep widening them till you get the right size than being too big and having to start again with a new box. I’ve put in two windows and two cat-flaps. Some feral or stray cats prefer having an escape route so two cat-flaps is ideal. I think it is best to position the cat- flaps and windows so that there is at least part of a solid wall for the cat to snuggle up against and so that it doesn’t create a wind tunnel. However you have to balance this with the cat being able to see out. I have also made the windows so that they face south and west in case of cold drafts from the north winds. The shelter I have made here is just an example of what’s possible – you may wish to try different designs. If you do I’d love to see what they look like to please post them here.

Start to line the box with the Thermawrap. It comes in a roll and is basically bubble wrap covered in aluminium foil. It has great insulating qualities and reflects heat back. I bought mine from Homebase here in the UK.

http://reviews.homebase.co.uk/1494-en_gb/127033/reviews.htmHomebase



The Thermawrap is very easy to cut to size with scissors.



I used Gaffer tape to secure it in place.



Lyra has come to help!

When you come to line the sides with the window and cat-flaps then start by covering the whole side then make 4 diagonal cuts in the Thermawrap from the centre of the holes to the 4 corners. This will make 4 triangle shapes and you can then bend the Thermawrap through the hole and tape to the outside of the box. Before you tape it though try the hole out for size by placing the cat-flap in the hole in case you need to widen it.



...phew the hole is big enough for her to climb through!



and stand up in!



Once you have the holes to the correct size you can then fit the cat-flaps and windows bearing in mind that you may need longer screws for the cat-flaps as the box with the Thermawrap will now be fairly thick. I managed just about but it was a struggle. If you look at the window on the right you can see where I have taped the Thermawrap to the outside of the box.

For windows I ordered 4 sheets of plastic glass (PETG) on-line from The Plastic People.

http://www.theplasticpeople.co.uk/cuttosize-plastic-c-30.html

They offer an excellent service and you can have the plastic cut to size and specify what thickness you want and if you want holes in the corners. I wanted double glazing so I allowed for 2 sheets per window, 2 mm thick, 8″ x 6″ with 4 holes in the corners. In hindsight as the window area is so small I probably would not have had the holes as the plastic is just as easy to fit using tape. The holes make it more expensive and they are positioned about an inch in so you need to bear this in mind when ordering the size as it will make the window area smaller.

To fit the windows and make double glazing place a sheet of plastic glass either side the cardboard. Cut a hole in the cardboard smaller than the glass to allow for fixing it to the box wither with tape or screws with dome bolts at the end.




Cover the whole box with heavy duty bin liners making sure that you use a whole bin liner for the top rather than attaching two together.



Make awnings from a pieces of cardboard covered with bin liner to put over the cat-flaps and windows for extra protection against the rain.

If you are going to be leaving one of the cat flaps open until the cat gets used to using it then you will need to find a way to protect the opening from the wind. I have tried to do this by creating an overhang using bin liners and the tarpaulin. Having the opening facing a wall will add some protection.

Don’t place the box directly on the ground to protect from damp. I got two empty polystyrene plant pot trays holder from my local pet shop and placed the shelter on top of that. Bricks are also good.

Fill with straw as this has good thermal qualities. Hay can become soggy and some cats are allergic to the hay dust. Don't use newspaper, clothes or blankets as these can draw heat away from your cat if they become damp and mouldy. A pet Flectabed is excellent. The material was developed by Nasa and has been shown in tests to reflect 95% of heat back onto the animal. They use this material for rescue to stop hypothermia. If you lay your hand on the Flectabed you can feel the heat building up within seconds.

SUCCESS! In the morning I went outside to call for my ex-stray Wolfy to give him his breakfast and he came out of the shelter! I don’t know if he had stayed there all night but at least he now has somewhere warm and dry to wait for meals.

I have been trying to take a picture of Wolfy coming out of the shelter but it is fairly dark here in the mornings at 7am and I didn’t want to put the flash on in case it spooked him so this is the best I can do for now. Will try with different camera to get a better shot in low light.



Here is Wolfy eating his breakfast. As you can see he doesn't exactly look grateful! laugh



I would love to see your own designs if you try this out for your own cat. Maybe we can all improve on the design and method?





Last edited by Honeysuckle on Thu 11 Nov 2010, 08:20; edited 1 time in total
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Yorkshirerose
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PostSubject: Re: How to Make An Outdoor Cat Shelter: UPDATE 11/11/10   Thu 07 Oct 2010, 21:36

Wicked thankyou that is great.
Loved the photos with Lyra helping out. you can almost here her thinking - 'hmmmmmm now what is going on here'.

As for Charlie he is just looking as though to say 'go away i am eating' cat feed
He is very pretty.
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gemini
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PostSubject: Re: How to Make An Outdoor Cat Shelter: UPDATE 11/11/10   Thu 07 Oct 2010, 21:47

Honeysuckle, your shelter is absolutely fantastic!!

And who knows if we might all need to build one some day. Charlie is a very handsome cat. What a pretty pair he and Lyra make
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Caz
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PostSubject: Re: How to Make An Outdoor Cat Shelter: UPDATE 11/11/10   Fri 08 Oct 2010, 10:35

wow That is lovely - thanks for posting.

It is lovely to see Charlie yes

What a lovely picture with his little tongue hearts
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Flower Girl
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PostSubject: Re: How to Make An Outdoor Cat Shelter: UPDATE 11/11/10   Fri 08 Oct 2010, 12:25

Janice - this is awesome!!!!

Thanks so much for documenting the process and the fab photos. Lyra makes for a great beta-tester.

Charliecat is going to be as snug as a bug!
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mrsmarple
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PostSubject: Re: How to Make An Outdoor Cat Shelter: UPDATE 11/11/10   Sat 09 Oct 2010, 14:12

Your a star Honeysuckle. Charlie looks like it's all taken for granted. giggle2
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Honeysuckle
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PostSubject: Re: How to Make An Outdoor Cat Shelter: UPDATE 11/11/10   Thu 11 Nov 2010, 09:21

I recently got a Flectabed for Wolfy's shelter.



It is made out of a material called Flectalon which was developed by Nasa. In tests it showed that it reflects back 95% of heat. I placed my hand on it and within a couple of seconds I could feel the heat building up underneath my hand. It is made up of strips of aluminium covered polypropelene.

Here is a bit about the product. Incidentally, I found this website after I had purchased the Flectabed through Amazon. If you look under the link "Uses for flectawrap" you can see that there is a cosy blanket there. Compared to the price I paid for the small cat bed (around £17.00) I probably would have bought the blanket!

http://www.flectawrap.co.uk/About%20Flectalon.html

It's not cheap but prices do vary so if you are thinking of getting one then shop around.




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PostSubject: Re: How to Make An Outdoor Cat Shelter: UPDATE 11/11/10   Thu 11 Nov 2010, 10:55

What a good mummy you are Janice! Wolfy is a one, warm lucky boy. Great that he uses it.

I bought all the stuff yesterday to make a shelter and didn't get a cat flap, which I now realize (as I'm getting started) is really key to making them feel safe.

Will get one this weekend.

Yours is amazing. Hope mine is ok. Worried if I will be able to put the cat flap in decently. Here's hoping.
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Honeysuckle
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PostSubject: Re: How to Make An Outdoor Cat Shelter: UPDATE 11/11/10   Thu 11 Nov 2010, 11:18

Bet Sammy will love it! If you do get a cat flap and intend to use a Snugglesafe Heat Pad then get a big Cat Flap so that you can get the heat pad inside. I lock the big flap so that Wolfy can get out but nothing can get in from the outside unless it is unlocked. I keep the smaller cat flap open with a clothes peg.

I could have done with a third hand when I was putting in the cat flaps but it is possible just a bit fiddly. Also the big cat flap I got was really meant for a door and the plastic part to join the two sides together was quite wide so I had to go to the ironmongers and get four very long screws. I also stuffed bits of insulation between the border of the flap and the box.

Here are some photos I took this morning of the shelter covered with the cheap tarpaulin I got. (£3.95). At first I thought it would be too flimsy but once it's folded a few times it's like a waterproof blanket.



The tarpaulin covers the large cat-flat and window at the front and overhangs at the side entrance. I've also tried to make a windbreak over the open cat flat.



The open cat flap entrance is fairly sheltered now.



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Flower Girl
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PostSubject: Re: How to Make An Outdoor Cat Shelter: UPDATE 11/11/10   Thu 11 Nov 2010, 17:09

Honeysuckle wrote:
I recently got a Flectabed for Wolfy's shelter.



It is made out of a material called Flectalon which was developed by Nasa. In tests it showed that it reflects back 95% of heat. I placed my hand on it and within a couple of seconds I could feel the heat building up underneath my hand. It is made up of strips of aluminium covered polypropelene.

Here is a bit about the product. Incidentally, I found this website after I had purchased the Flectabed through Amazon. If you look under the link "Uses for flectawrap" you can see that there is a cosy blanket there. Compared to the price I paid for the small cat bed (around £17.00) I probably would have bought the blanket!

http://www.flectawrap.co.uk/About%20Flectalon.html

It's not cheap but prices do vary so if you are thinking of getting one then shop around.

Thanks for the info, Janice. I could do with one of these blankets for myself lol (my gas fire is broken - long story!). I'm sure the Flower Girls will love the little Flectabed, so I'll keep my eyes open for one.

Thanks also for the update on your cat shelter method. It's so inspiring that I fancy making one for the girls, even though they don't need it lol!

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gemini
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PostSubject: Re: How to Make An Outdoor Cat Shelter: UPDATE 11/11/10   Fri 12 Nov 2010, 07:46

I'd never heard of Flectabeds but I decided to buy one for Meg. I have ordered it from Pet Planet. I ordered the smallest size which was £16.99. But they also had one by a different manufacturer called a Sleep Right Thermal Cat Cushion. They are half price at the moment so are £12.99 and it's slightly larger than the Flectabed, so I ordered one of those too!! It also meant I qualified for free postage!

http://www.petplanet.co.uk/product.asp?dept_id=132&pf_id=7033

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PostSubject: Re: How to Make An Outdoor Cat Shelter: UPDATE 11/11/10   Fri 12 Nov 2010, 09:39

Will definitely buy one for Sam if I feel he's using his shelter. yes
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PostSubject: Re: How to Make An Outdoor Cat Shelter: UPDATE 11/11/10   Fri 12 Nov 2010, 11:17

Thanks for the link, Gemini. This looks like another great bargain!

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gemini
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PostSubject: Re: How to Make An Outdoor Cat Shelter: UPDATE 11/11/10   Fri 12 Nov 2010, 12:36

Will let you know which one I think is best when they arrive yes
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PostSubject: Re: How to Make An Outdoor Cat Shelter: UPDATE 11/11/10   Fri 12 Nov 2010, 21:12

ooooooo yes please Gemini and thanks for the link.

I am seriously thinking of getting Georgie one (well and one for Jerry so they dont fight) as she is been a right cold bum at the moment
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Honeysuckle
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PostSubject: Re: How to Make An Outdoor Cat Shelter: UPDATE 11/11/10   Sat 13 Nov 2010, 19:54

gemini wrote:
I'd never heard of Flectabeds but I decided to buy one for Meg. I have ordered it from Pet Planet. I ordered the smallest size which was £16.99. But they also had one by a different manufacturer called a Sleep Right Thermal Cat Cushion. They are half price at the moment so are £12.99 and it's slightly larger than the Flectabed, so I ordered one of those too!! It also meant I qualified for free postage!

http://www.petplanet.co.uk/product.asp?dept_id=132&pf_id=7033


Thanks for the link. I am so tempted but will look forward to hearing your reviews! computer

Janice x
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PostSubject: Re: How to Make An Outdoor Cat Shelter: UPDATE 11/11/10   Thu 23 Dec 2010, 19:22

I've been concerned about Wolfie being warm enough in his shelter as it's been so cold recently so my lovely hubby William bought me a remote temperature sensor. The sensor goes inside the shelter and you can read the temperature from the main device which is situated outside.

The first night Wolfie was either lying on the sensor or it had been knocked on to the heated Snugglesafe pad because the temperature read 39 degrees centigrade! cooling down to 23 degrees. Last night I taped the sensor to the back of the shelter away from the heat pads near the top and the ambient temperature was over 13 degrees which I thought was not too bad considering it was about minus 2 degrees outside. If he was lying on a heat pad it should have been nice and cosy.







yes
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mrsmarple
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PostSubject: Re: How to Make An Outdoor Cat Shelter: UPDATE 11/11/10   Fri 24 Dec 2010, 12:50

That's great Janice. I'm worried about too Sam but they are hardy.

I can't remember the last time it was over -8 and gets down to -13 at night.

Hubby tried to buy a heating pad yesterday but they were sold out, however found one today so he's off to get 2. Hope Sam will go into the shelter if he smells something foreign in there. I'm sure he will though it's perishing.
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PostSubject: Re: How to Make An Outdoor Cat Shelter: UPDATE 11/11/10   Mon 27 Dec 2010, 16:09

We bought 2 snuggle pads for Sam and he's loving it. He only comes out to eat and right back in. With 2 he will always be cozy. Thought they would heat up more, but when I took one out of the shelter in the morning it was still warmish so guess they give off more heat than I thought.

It says to be careful when removing from the microwave as it may be hot?? Mine are warm but not hot. Does that sound right?
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Honeysuckle
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PostSubject: Re: How to Make An Outdoor Cat Shelter: UPDATE 11/11/10   Mon 27 Dec 2010, 18:10

mrsmarple wrote:
We bought 2 snuggle pads for Sam and he's loving it. He only comes out to eat and right back in. With 2 he will always be cozy. Thought they would heat up more, but when I took one out of the shelter in the morning it was still warmish so guess they give off more heat than I thought.

It says to be careful when removing from the microwave as it may be hot?? Mine are warm but not hot. Does that sound right?

That's like Wolfie! Comes out to eat then wants to go straight back in and sometimes I have to distract him with more food while I'm waiting for the Snuggle pads to finish heating! He's going to be as big as a house soon! giggle1

If I heat the pads with the cover off then I do find them a just a bit too hot to handle and have to use the oven gloves to put them in the cover. I heat them up in the cover now. The center always seems to feel hotter than the rim.

Maybe it was my imagination but I found that the first couple of times I heated them they didn't seem to get that hot but now they are?

I have an 800w oven and it says to heat them for 6 minutes. I used to turn them over after 3 but I don't bother now as it doesn't seem to make any difference.

If they are still warmish in the morning then that sounds about right!

Sammy must be as warm as toast and not surprised that he doesn't want to come out for very long!

clap thumbs up dance

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PostSubject: Re: How to Make An Outdoor Cat Shelter: UPDATE 11/11/10   Mon 27 Dec 2010, 18:44

Thanks for that Janice. I feel better now.

Wonder what they're made of?

I heated them without once and your right they were much warmer.

So glad Wolfy found you and Sam found me. They are 2 wise men. giggle2
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Honeysuckle
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PostSubject: Re: How to Make An Outdoor Cat Shelter: UPDATE 11/11/10   Mon 27 Dec 2010, 19:12

mrsmarple wrote:
They are 2 wise men. giggle2

laugh

Bless them! hearts

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