I have seven feral cats that I feed daily. They live in the woods behind my house. All are spayed and vaccinated.
Last winter I became concerned that they wouldn’t have adequate shelter from the harsh winter weather and I set out to build shelters for them.
With not much money I was able to provide a warm, dry place for them to escape the snow and ice.
I began with two large Rubbermaid totes . I cut a six inch hole at one end of the long side of each tote. Then I took large styrofoam pieces and cut them to fit inside the totes, as a lining, top, bottom and all four sides. I secured these pieces of styrofoam to the inside of the totes using pieces of twist tie. Then I filled each tote halfway with straw. Blankets are no good because they get wet and freeze. The straw kept dry and clean all winter long, and they could burrow into it if they so choose.
After securing the lids on the totes, I put some straw on the ground as extra insulation, put a skid over that straw and sat the totes on top of this, securing them to the skid with duct tape, and plenty of it! I set the totes so that the entrance holes were facing each other, so that it was like a hallway between the two totes, with a hole in each tote that they could enter and exit. Then I covered the entire thing with heavy black plastic sheeting, leaving a small slit in the front and back of the sheeting for them to enter and exit through.
I was unsure whether the plastic sheeting would scare them away, but the very next morning when I went out to put food out for the ferals, most of them came running from the new shelter, and some had little pieces of straw stuck to their tails, so I knew they had been sleeping in the totes. I looked inside the totes briefly, to be sure, and sure enough there were little burrows dug in the straw and it was obvious that at least some of them had snuggled up nice and cozy in there. During the course of that winter, I saw every one of the ferals entering and exiting this shelter daily, so I know that it met with their approval.
I believe this whole thing cost me no more than $30 to make and, while it isn’t a nice warm, heated house, it provided much more warmth and shelter than they would have found hiding under porches or in woodpiles.