How To Build An Outdoor Cat House Shelter – DIY

Knowing how to build an outdoor cat house can help your outdoor cat stay toasty warm in winter and cozy all year long. In this post you’ll learn how to build a cat shelter out of wood, how to heat it and introduce your feline friend to this new home!

build outdoor cat house diy shabbyfufu

It’s been cold enough here to turn on the heat the last few days! If there’s one thing that cat owners know it’s that cats love to be warm. Indoor kitties will often seek a windowsill or fireplace in order to warm up, while outside cats worship the sun!

Outdoor Cat Life

Our Libra was a feral feline that found us and we couldn’t love him more 😻 Having most likely been an outdoor kitty for the first couple of years of his life, he prefers to have the freedom of being an indoor/outdoor cat. Libra is inside/outside during the day and makes the decision to be outdoors at night. It’s his choice and we respect that, but want to make sure that he is warm and safe! We have a chair on the patio that we keep a heating pad on during the winter, and now he has his own house. Lucky Libra…and you can build an outdoor cat house for your kitty or use as a shelter for strays!

tools for the build outdoor cat house

This is a paid post in behalf of Spectrum Brands but the work and opinions expressed here are my own.

How To Build An Outdoor Cat House



  • Circular Saw
  • Jig Saw
  • Screw Gun
  • Tape Measure
  • Level
  • Carpenter’s Square
  • Caulk Gun
  • Paint Lid (For Tracing Opening)
  • Sandpaper – 60 Grit
  • Pencil
  • **Safety Equipment – Eye Protection, Gloves** Always use care when working with power tools.

Here is the first sketch that we did when initially planning the cat house. We made changes along the way, but this gives you an idea.

DIY Heated Cat House

Step 1 –

build outdoor cat house out of wood

Gather your materials and know that this is a DIY for someone with intermediate carpentry skills. Measure and cut four pieces of plywood with a circular saw to be 16″ square each from the 1/2 sheet of 3/8″ plywood. Use your level to make sure that your lines are straight prior to cutting.

Step 2 –

measuring wood for build outdoor cat house

build outdoor cat house

Cut four 1″ x 2″ pieces of wood from the 8′ piece to measure 16″ long and two 13″ long each with your circular saw. Cut two triangles measuring 16″ long x 8″ high out of the 3/4″ plywood.

Step 3 –

paint can lid used in build outdoor cat house

electrical cord hole

Next you’ll be cutting the openings for your cat to get in and out of the house. You’ll use two of the 16″ square pieces and have two openings. Measure each opening to be 6″ wide x 8″ tall (at least) using a carpenter’s square and a paint can lid (or other circular object).

OPTIONAL! If you want to be to add a heating pad to the house you’ll need to allow for that. Cut a hole at the back portion of the box for your electrical cord to go through.

Step 4 –

build outdoor cat house door

opening build outdoor cat house

Cut each opening using a circular saw for the straight edges and a jig saw for rounded portion.

Step 5 – 

screwing outdoor cat house together

Take two pieces of the 16″ square plywood and attach your 1″ x 2″ sixteen inch long pieces to two sides. These will be the backing for the corners of the inside of the box.

Step 6 –

building a cat box shelter

Screw one piece of 1″ x 2″ by 13″ across to make what will be the inside of the top of the cat house box.

Step 7 –



Next you’ll be constructing the box by taking two pieces of the sides and screwing them together using 1 1/4″ screws. Repeat process for the other side. Attach these pieces together to make the box.

Step 8 – 

inside of diy cat shelter for winter

We used plywood that was left from another project, and it had been painted white. Great way to recycle wood!

Take your 2′ x 2′ 3/4″ piece of plywood and determine where you’d like to place the box on what will be the platform of the cat house.

Step 9 –

Use four of the National Hardware 2 1/2″ Corner Braces to attach the sides of the box to the platform on the inside. Use your screw gun for this.

Step 10 –

building cat house roof

Attach the two triangles to the front and back of the cat house using 1 5/8″ screws with a screw gun. This will start to build the outdoor cat house roof.

Step 11 –

cat house roof

Take your 2′ x 2′ 1/2″ piece of plywood and cut it in half. These pieces will form the roof of the cat house. Attach one side of the roof piece with 1 5/8″ deck screws.

Step 12 – 

build outdoor cat house roof

National Hardware hinges

roof of the build outdoor cat house

Place the second part of the roof on the triangle and attach it using two of the National Hardware 1 1/2″ Back Flap Hinges. The blister package comes with screws that you’ll find handy to use! These hinges allow easy access to the inside of the cat house for the cat’s people!

Step 13 –

shim shingles on build outdoor cat house

cat house roof build

roof outdoor cat house

It’s really starting to come together!

build outdoor cat house

Cut the shim shingles in half using your circular saw. Attach as shown in two rows using adhesive caulking.

Step 14 –

bead board trim cutting

trim piece cat house

Take the two pieces of bead board and cut into 16″ lengths. Next take the paint lid and trace, mimicking the curve at the top of each doorway opening. Cut additional pieces of the bead board as needed to decorate all the way up to the bottom of the roof line. Cut these pieces with a jig saw.

Step 15 –

cat shelter diy

Attach the bead board to two sides of the cat box around the two openings to be decorative, using adhesive caulking.

Step 16 – 

cat house leg supports

Cut four pieces of the 2″ x 4″ ten inches long. These will be the legs to raise the cat house off the ground. You can make the legs taller or shorter to suit your needs. Attach with 1 5/8″ deck screws from the top and use the National Hardware 2 1/2″ Corner Braces underneath.

Step 17 – 

painting cat house

Now your cat box construction is finished and you are ready to paint and decorate to your liking! If painting it’s best to use a waterproof exterior paint or stain and paint both the inside and outside of the cat house.

Finishing Touches – Build An Outdoor Cat House

painted cat house

As you can see in the photo above, I stained the outdoor cat shelter the same color as our gate. Below is the back of the diy cat house build with a hole cut out for slipping an electrical cord through. We plan on putting a blanket down inside first and then a heating pad. Be sure to check your heating pad settings and don’t use one that gets too hot. You could also lay another blanket on top of the heating pad for extra coziness for kitty 😻

cat house with heating pad for warmth

Name Your Outdoor Cat Shelter!

cat winter shelter

10 Cat Nap Lane, a play on words if you will. I used a waterproof white pencil to draw in the name, but you can use paint just as easily. If you have a Cricut or similar cutting machine then get creative with that if you wish.

How To Get Your Cat To Use The Outdoor Cat House!

Cat house

Cats are curious and leery of new things! We did the build on our outdoor cat house outside, so Libra was watching. Good kitty! At first we enticed her with some sliced lunch meat that our daughter had on hand. It didn’t take long and Libra was inside the cat house looking around. Then he started rubbing against the cat house, which is how cats make their mark and claim territory as their own.

The lid conveniently lifts up with the National Hardware 1 1/2″ Back Flap Hinges to allow easy access for the people to take care of the inside.

In Place

And there you have it! This project was definitely worth the 4-5 hours of work and will last on our outdoor covered patio for years to come! Questions and comments are always welcomed!

Pin This Now To Make Later!

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  1. Luxury for the puddytat! I love this idea and love the care given to this onetime stray. You folks are awesome!

    1. Thank you Linda! We believe that every animal deserves the best life possible and are happy to help when we can. ☺️

    1. It’s really our pleasure…they give back love unconditionally 😻

  2. What a great “Cat house”. We too were adopted by our feral kitty, Jaxon. Before he became our garage kitty, I had purchased a special outdoor heating pad that only warms up with the weight of the cat and never gets too hot to burn them. It was kept on our front porch. Jaxon loves it and most pet outlets offer them. When he officially became our “garage” cat, we brought his heated bed into the garage, so he is warm and cozy during the winter months. He is allowed out during the day but I coral him inside before dark, since cats are nocturnal and usually get into trouble during the night.

    1. Jaxon sounds like a sweetie Virginia! Our Libra doesn’t stray very far and has brought us a couple of “presents” 🐀 but is generally on the patio most nights.

  3. Teresa Snipes says:

    Too cute! We had a feral cat that would have loved this.

    I wish we could have done this, but all animals around here must be in at night due to coyotes. He didn’t like it, but we couldn’t live with him being in danger.

    It’s amazing how you can fall in love with a crazy, feral cat, isn’t it!?!


    1. We really love our Libra…just the sweetest kitty and he has a great life here!

  4. Great house for kitty! We’re thinking of building an indoor one for the kitty we adopted this year too. It’ll be her daytime sleeping spot as she’s outgrown her cat tree ‘nest’. Holly provides us so much entertainment and love! Our empty nester home has come alive again!

    1. Kitties are definitely entertaining Char and I would think that you could do some version of this for your girl’s indoor adventures!

  5. Great kitty house! We also adopted a stray kitty last summer who is close to a year old now, based on the vet’s best guess. His name is Charlie, and we are in love, despite his sassy independent streak! He was also an outdoor kitty before we found him at six months, and definitely likes being outdoors. He does come inside for playtime and naps, but this past week was the first time he stayed in at night due to the extreme cold and snow. I worried about what he might get into since he likes to chew on cords and jump onto furniture, but he was fine. Thankfully he has learned to use a litter box so he can stay inside longer when needed. They certainly capture your hearts! We live in the country and I worry about things like hawks, coyotes, and the neighbors dogs, but he seems to be pretty cautious and street smart. We’ve also had a feral that looks like yours hanging around our back patio off and on lately, and we have been feeding her as well. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks for sharing about your kitty life Vicki! Thankfully it doesn’t get extremely cold here, but this works well on our patio for Libra to hang out. Cats are such interesting and loving creatures!

  6. Hi Janet, I am so glad you made a great place for your kitty to hang out! We would be so lost without our cats, they really can make a place in your heart.

    1. They really can Paula…we just love our sweet rescue!

  7. Libra is adorable and looks a lot like our recent rescue, Abby. What a lucky kitty to have her own house. Our Abby would love it but we aren’t able to let her out at night due to coyotes. We have to watch her carefully during the day too. She wishes we’d wouldn’t be helicopter parents. Cats are wonderful family members although our little dogs feel otherwise. 😉 xo

    1. Juliet…Libra has turned out to be a dear member of our household and is so full of love! Thankfully we don’t have to worry too much about coyotes here, but there can be the occasional one and a fox every now and then. Have a wonderful day!

  8. Hi,
    What kind of plywood did you use? There are so many options (mdf, osb, bcx, ccx, etc. etc.???)
    Thank you