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NYC winter shelters

Keep your cats warm and dry!

It's important to have a dry, safe place for your managed colony in the winter. See below for various options available for purchase in the New York City area.  Or see our Feral Cat Winter Shelter page for ideas on making your own. You can go high end - or down and dirty - something is better than nothing!

Fish box winter shelter

Joe's pre-made fish boxes

Constructed from recycled Styrofoam fish boxes covered with two, 2 millimeter thick plastic liners and heat-welded straps. Straw included. It is important to place right side up as there are drainage holes on the bottom. We recommend placing shelters on something like bricks or pieces of wood and not directly on the ground, to allow for drainage.

The large model is approximately 34" L x 20" W x 20" H and accomodates 2-3 cats. Other sizes are available (ask Joe). Rescue and bulk orders are $20 per shelter with pickup in Farmingdale, Long Island. To order, contact Joe at email or call 516-322-5621. For more info, go to Joe's website.

Option to purchase locally: $25 per shelter with pickup in Forest Hills, Queens. Contact Mary at email or call 917-579-5718.

Ian's winter cat shelter

Foam insulation shelters

Made with foam insulation sheets at least 1 inch thick, this shelter measures approximately 38" L x 16" W x 16" H. The floor is covered with vinyl tile, making it scratch-proof, and straw is included. Comfortably holds two to three cats. Price is $60, cash only. Pickup in St. Albans, Queens (no shipping or delivery available).

To order, contact Ian at 646-436-2301. For full details, see photos on Flickr.

Recycled Styrofoam shelter

Recycled Styrofoam shelters

These are made from recycled Styrofoam coolers and shrink-wrapped in plastic. They measure approximately 24" L x 18" W x 20" H and accommodate one to two adult cats. Straw is included. Cost is $20, cash only, and pickup is in South Brooklyn (no shipping or delivery).

To order, contact Barbara at or (917) 797-5405.

Make-your-own Styrofoam box shelter

Simple shelters can be made from Styrofoam boxes. Check for them at supermarkets, fish stores, butchers or they can often be collected on the street in very good shape. Omaha steak and fish boxes are excellent and a great way to recycle. You can purchase Hercules Huskee 48-can coolers from Walmart (prices range from $7 to $9 each with free shipping on orders of $35 or more). See our simple instructions for converting your Styrofoam box into a winter cat shelter.

Where to buy straw

Straw is the best bedding for winter shelters. It provides the best insulation and repels moisture. It is not the same as hay, which is used for animal feed. Remember, straw repels moisture, while hay draws and holds moisture. Blankets and towels should never be used as bedding. They do not insulate, retain moisture and can become moldy. They actually draw heat from the cats’ bodies. So always use straw!

Some local feed stores and stables where straw can be purchased:

C G Feeds
2355 Arthur Kill Rd.
Staten Island
(718) 356 0220

Jamaica Bay Riding Academy
7000 Shore Parkway
Brooklyn, New York 11234
(718) 531-8949 (call in advance)

Aqueduct Barn
(917) 991-4068 (call in advance)

Triple Star Horse Feed
2 Elzey Avenue, Elmont, NY
(516) 775-3333 (call in advance)

In the fall, garden centers and home improvement stores (such as Home Depot and Lowe’s) sell bales of straw. Craft stores (such as Michael’s) have smaller decorative bales for sale. Another option is speaking to stores, restaurants or banquet halls that have indoor fall displays using bales of straw. After Thanksgiving, they usually toss it to make way for their holiday displays. Ask to take it off their hands!