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6 DIY outdoor cat house ideas

Cooler box cat house with black and white cat inside
(Image credit: pdjinc.com)

If you have a feline friend who spends a lot of time exploring nature’s backyard or there are a lot of feral cats around, a DIY outdoor cat house can be a great way of ensuring that there’s a safe and comfortable sleep spot available for them to retreat to no matter the time of day. 

Providing a warm and secure shelter is all part of caring for outdoor cats, who, because they are less protected than their largely indoor siblings, are at greater risk of illness and injury. While indoor cat breeds get less exercise than outdoor cats and are more prone to boredom, outdoor cats can have a lifespan that’s 10-12 years shorter because of the risk that cars and predators pose.

While investing in the best outdoor cat enclosure is one way to protect your feline friend, some cat owners prefer to give their kitty uninhibited access to their neighborhood and let them come and go as they please. This is where getting creative and constructing your very own outdoor cat house can come in handy.

Providing shelter from the elements on those hot summer days or bitterly cold winter nights, an outdoor cat house can offer much-needed protection and a place to rest their head for feral cats, or provide your own beloved bundle of fur with a safe and secure space to retreat to when you’ve gone to bed and they’re not able to get back inside. 

And yes, while you could absolutely head straight for the shops and choose from amongst the many outdoor cat houses lining the shelves, where's the fun in that? If you're worried that like us, you haven't been hit with the DIY stick, don't be. 

You’ll find plenty of simple outdoor cat house plans below, including some cheap and cheerful options made from easy to find items such as storage containers and cooler boxes. 

1. Outdoor cat house made from recycled pallets

Made from recycled pallet boards, this gorgeous cat house by Şahane bilgiler (opens in new tab) has been finished with coats of varnish to ensure it can withstand the elements for years to come. It contains a litter box to make cleaning up a breeze and even has a feeding station attached to the side. 

With a fully enclosed downstairs area and an open plan covered deck, this cat house provides both a warm space for the winter months and a breezy space to lounge about in during the summer. 

2. Cooler box cat house

Cooler box cat house

(Image credit: pdjinc.com)

Not just for keeping your food cold, a cooler box can also make the ideal outdoor cat house. You’ll also want to purchase a rope light, some carpet, a blanket and a foam pad to make sure this house is cozy and warm. 

This design is fairly easy to construct with a small door cut out at the bottom of the cooler to allow cats to come and go easily and there’s plenty of space inside for a food and water bowl. There are also instructions on how to weather-proof this house so that the top of the cooler doesn’t leak when it rains. 

3. Storage container cat house

If you’re looking for a cheap and cheerful outdoor cat house that won’t cost you much and is super quick to construct, then this one by Cats and Pats (opens in new tab) made from storage containers is well worth considering. 

Simple yet effective, it will keep cats warm and dry and there’s enough room for you to sneak a cat bed in there if your budget can stretch to it. 

4. Rubber tub outdoor cat house

Another really affordable option is to place a small rubber tub inside a large rubber tub and attach a PVC coupler to the side to allow your cat to get in and out. 

Once you’ve cut a hole in the side of the tubs and attached the coupler, you can then fill the gap around the small tub with insulation to ensure the house is toasty warm. There’s no denying that this cat house created by the team at What We Made (opens in new tab) is super small, but it will keep your kitty dry and comfortable on those nights when they’re outdoors. 

5. Heated winter cat house

For those of you visual creative types out there who can build by eye without needing a plan, this cat house project from YouTuber Andrew W (opens in new tab) is well worth taking on. 

Stylish on the outside and incredibly comfortable on the inside, this house has a heating pad to ensure your kitty stays nice and warm as well as a generous window along the front side of the house to ensure they can still watch what’s going on outside. There’s also carpet attached to the roof of the house, so if your cat doesn’t fancy being inside they’ll still have a soft spot to snooze on.

6. Styrofoam box cat house

Styrofoam cat house in the snow

(Image credit: instructables.com)

If you’d class yourself as a beginner on the DIY front, then you’re going to love this easy to construct cat house made from a Styrofoam box, fabric, tape and glue. 

It’s a particularly great option if you have a lot of feral cats that like to visit your backyard as it’s so cheap to build that you could easily make more than one. The instructions are a piece of cake to follow too, with just five simple steps standing between you and the finished product. 

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has spent the past two years dividing her writing time between her two great loves - pets and health and wellness. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with one very mischievous Cocker Spaniel, drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and attempting to set numerous world records for the longest ever FaceTime calls with her family back home in NZ.