6 DIY outdoor cat house ideas

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

Our DIY outdoor cat house ideas can offer your furry friend warmth and safety without an enormous price tag. If you have a kitty who loves to roam the great outdoors, you’ll want to provide a safe and comfortable outdoor retreat for them to take shelter in at night. While the best outdoor cat enclosures offer comfort, style, and security, they can be expensive. 

In the United States, 63% of cat owners prefer to keep their cats indoors, according to a 2021 survey (opens in new tab), citing wildlife threats as their biggest concern. Cats who spend a lot of time outdoors are indeed at greater risk of illness and injury than their indoor peers. Predators, rival cats, road traffic, and bad weather can all play their part in shortening your cat’s lifespan - by as much as 12 years in some cases.

Providing your cat with a comfortable, safe space to take shelter in and while away their outdoor hours is the perfect solution. You don’t need much in the way of materials or budget either. From using recycled pallets to build a fantastic backyard den to creating an insulated hidey hole with food containers, we’ve got some of the most ingenious ideas to keep your cat warm and safe. 

Another option to keep your kitty safe while exploring is to provide a catio (cat patio). We’ve got catios suitable for apartment balconies, cats who love to climb, and cats who love to sleep, with these 13 charming catio ideas for your feline friend

If your cat absolutely needs to roam (let’s face it - we love their independent nature), why not use one of the best pet trackers to keep tabs on your pet’s location at any time of the day or night?

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. 

If you’re wondering How to make the transition from an indoor to an outdoor cat, you can take some simple steps to ensure they’re safe once outdoors. Plus, get tips on how to encourage them to return.  

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.