Building a cat shelter: plans

As mentioned at the end of a recent blog post about the feral cats, the current shelter for the outdoor cats is a little too small, now that they’re getting bigger. Also, the current feeding station is a bit untidy (aka an ugly hack job).

I considered building a new feeding station that would look nicer. I also considered buying a second heated shelter like the current one. But I finally decided that a better solution would be to build one structure that would serve both needs: a wooden shelter plenty big enough for the cats, and an attached feeding station.

Doing research into existing examples, I thought about many different designs. Jenn had the idea of an old west theme, like a “cat house saloon”, which seemed fun. So I wrote up detailed notes on the design, and yesterday spent pretty much all day drawing some plans. I used The Iconfactory’s excellent Linea Sketch app for iOS, on my 12.9″ iPad Pro, drawing with the Apple Pencil.

Here’s what I came up with. Of course, I’ll probably continue to refine the design as I build it, but I’m pretty happy with this.

The overall size of the structure is 6′ wide (4′ for the shelter, 2′ for the feeding station), 3′ deep, and sloping from 3.5′ high in the front down to 2.5′ in the back.

The walls, floor, and roof of the shelter portion will be insulated, made of two layers of plywood sandwiching some foam. There will also be a couple of heating pads inside.

This is the front elevation, i.e. looking at the front wall. The basic outline is inspired by western buildings, with the roof façades. The left side is the shelter, and the right side is the feeding station; they will be styled as separate buildings, though joined. There are windows at the top, awnings, and doors at the bottom. Most of the shelter wall will open as a maintenance door:

Here’s the right elevation, showing the side view and inside the feeding station. You can see the sloping roof, awning, and a deck out front. Inside is divided into two levels: a cupboard at the top, where the food dispenser sits on a pull-out drawer (to make it easier to fill), with a large tube leading to a tray in the feeding area below, where the cats go in to eat:

Another elevation, this time through the middle of the shelter. Here you can see the cat doors at the front and back (important to have two entrances, so they can escape any threats). You can also see the maintenance door taking most of the front wall, and a vent at the back. The horizontal line across the middle is a sleeping platform:

Finally, the plan (top-down) view. Again, the shelter is on the left, and the feeding station on the right. In the shelter, you can see the two platforms (the darker rectangles), with an open space in the middle. The square in the feeding area is the tray where the food drops. You can also see the deck out front, that is covered by an awning (not shown in this view):

I’m pretty happy with this design. Like the chicken coop, it is perhaps over-designed, but hey, that’s my way. I have tried to keep it fairly simple, and appropriately scaled. I’m also trying to keep it fairly lightweight, since I will be building it in the workshop before moving it into place. I plan to build it in a few pieces to help with that; separate floor, walls, and roof, which will be screwed together when installing. Hopefully that works out.

I already have some of the materials needed, but I’ll go to Home Depot tomorrow for the rest, and will start building in the coming week.

Should be a fun project; I’m looking forward to starting! Of course, I will post about it on this blog. Stay tuned!

What do you think? Any ideas for improvements? Let me know in the comments!

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