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NYC winter shelters

For sale

Fishbox winter shelter

Fish box shelters

Locally manufactured and distributed (see Constructed from recycled Styrofoam fish boxes and covered with two 2-millimeter thick plastic liners attached with heat-welded straps. Straw included. A large size shelter measures approximately 34" L x 20" W x 20" H and can accommodate 4 cats. Other sizes may be available. Cost is approximately $25 to $30 for the large.

For pickup in Forest Hills, Queens, contact Mary at or 917-579-5718 (cost = $28). See the full list of local vendors. For bulk orders with delivery (charges apply), contact Joe at or 516-322-5621.

Ian's winter shelters

Ian's shelters

Approximate dimensions 38" L x 16" W x 16" H. Made with a minimum of 1" thick insulation. The floor is covered with vinyl tile (makes it scratch-proof). Straw included. Accommodates 2 to 3 adult cats comfortably. For more info:
Price: $65 (cash only)
Limited quantity available
Pickup in St. Albans, Queens (no shipping or delivery)
Contact Ian: 646-436-2301

Recycled Styrofoam cat shelter

Sue's shelters

Made from recycled Styrofoam coolers and fish boxes, painted, straw included. Sizes vary.
Price:  $20 (cash only)
Limited quantity available
Pickup in Westchester County (White Plains area)
Contact Sue: or (914) 715-3361 (text)


Styrofoam boxes

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. All you need is a sharp utility knife to cut a 6" hole off-center, weigh down the box with a brick and stuff it with straw. Painting is optional. Download simple instructions.

Neighborhood Cats winter shelter

Neighborhood Cats

The Neighborhood Cats feral cat winter shelter is made from one 2 ft x 8 ft piece of hard, two-inch thick Styrofoam insulation. The finished shelter measures 24” L x 24” W x 16” H and can hold 2 or 3 cats. If you have access to a table saw, you can cut the pieces yourself and silicone glue them together. Otherwise, ask your hardware or home improvement store if they will pre-cut the pieces for you. Download the full instructions.

Other Do-It-Yourself designs

There are many creative designs you can use like the Bushwick Street Cats storage bin shelter with flowerpot entryway (pictured here). For more ideas on making your own, visit

Straw for sale

Aqueduct Barn (at Aqueduct Racetrack)
110-00 Rockaway Boulevard
South Ozone Park, NY  11420
(917) 991-4068 (call in advance)

Triple Star Horse Feed
2 Elzey Avenue
Elmont, NY 11003
(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!

You can also order straw online:
Thunder Acres (photo)

Straw is the best bedding for winter shelters. Because the cats burrow into the straw, it provides good insulation. Keep in mind that straw is not the same as hay which is used for animal feed. Straw repels moisture while hay draws and holds it and can become moldy as a result. Don't use blankets or towels or anything that lies flat on the floor of the shelter (unless it's a product designed to retain body heat). These materials don't insulate, do retain moisture, can become moldy and draw body heat out of the cats. In a pinch, if you can't get hold of straw, use shredded newspaper instead. Always replace moist materials right away.

shelter placement


*Place shelters against or under a structure rather than out in the open.  Examples: against a house, fence, tree, or under a bush or porch or overhang.

*Place shelters out of the wind and in a spot that gets the most sun.

*Raise shelters off the ground by placing on stable pallets or bricks. Make sure doing so does not cause the shelters to wobble in any way.

*Use bricks or a similarly heavy object on the top of lightweight shelters to help with stability.

*Place near the feeding station or in an area the cats favor.

*Place two shelters facing each other approx 1.5' apart. Slant a plank of wood in front of the two shelters or a piece of wood across the top of the shelters to prevent wind/snow/rain from getting in.

*Sprinkle some catnip at the shelter opening to teach the cats to go in.

*If needed, camouflage with burlap, tree branches or twigs.