Winter conditions can lead to frost bite and death for community cats who don’t have proper
shelter, so we hold workshops which provide the materials and allow the general public the
opportunity to come out and learn how to assemble these shelters to be able to take them home
and provide a warmer environment for their community cats. In turn, we either ask for a
monetary donation if they can, or ask them to stick around and donate their time to help
assemble additional shelters for our TNR team to deploy as they need to.
I first learned the process assembling winter shelters from AAAR when they had come to the
Jack Wirt library to do a presentation for us. After trying a few different styles we were able to
come up with a scenario where we could utilize donated foam coolers from hospitals and pet
stores and began to hold our own workshops at the library and YMCA throughout the winters,
until we were finally able to hold them in our new building. Coolers are collected year round so
as to be able to have a large enough supply coming into the winter. At the workshops we will cut
the entrance holes, line the coolers with mylar which reflects the cats body heat within the
coolers making it substantially warmer and tape that into place with reflective foil tape (both
available at Home Depot and Menards), and then fill with straw (which is one of the best forms
of bedding due to its ability to insulate and shed moisture if snow or rain comes into shelter
instead of absorbing moisture which can freese the bedding to the cats fur). In scenarios where
the shelter is completely exposed to the elements I will add a 6 inch piece of pvc pipe to act as an
entranceway (I buy a 10 foot section from Menards and cut into 20 pieces) and either tape or
silicone into the opening to keep the snow and rain out. These are just for cold weather and need
to be removed during warmer months, however a simple plastic tote with an entrance and exit
hole will suffice to switch out with during summer if desired.