I often talk about the use of Magic Boxes that I use for shelters for the cats. I thought they needed their very own post. I have referred to them over and over again and often link to the section on shelters. The Magic Boxes are the most used shelter I have. The cats use them almost daily from mid October thru June. Even when the days are cold, if the sun is out, the cats like to sit on the open deck and look out. During warm weather, they still like the Magic Boxes when it rains or when the nights are still cool. They are very versatile, cheap to purchase and easy to put together.
The first Magic Box I made was during the Polar Vortex of 2014. It was January and the cats were so cold. My husband and son had just built the heated house, but the cats were quite skittish of it at first and would not go inside except for a few minutes at a time. I needed something else that would be warm, but also not frighten them. I went to Target one frigid morning and purchased a Sterlite clear storage box. I loved that it had the lids that locked into place instead of just snapping down. The container is 23″ L x 16″ W x 13″ H. I love that it is clear so that I can easily see the cats inside. I lined the lid, and all sides with Reflectix insulation that I bought in a roll at Home Depot. I used duct tape to keep it in place. I then added an electric heat pad to the bottom. I use the K&H extreme weather kitty pad which fits perfectly in the bottom. The K&H Lectro Soft Heated Cat Bed also fits nicely. Just be sure to cut out a notch in the back for the cord. I cut one hole for the entrance and one hole for an exit. I chose to make the exit on the side since I was putting two of them side by side. This way the cats could travel back and forth if they wanted. I also have made them with the exit and entrance in the front and back for use in other locations. I was able to cut the entrance and exit with a utility knife and blade cutter. The plastic was fairly sharp so I covered around the edges with duct tape.
Since the boxes are not very tall, they do a very nice job of retaining some of the heat. I really like using the K&H extreme weather kitty pad as it produces heat all of the time not just when the cat sits on it. This makes the shelter stay nice and warm. During the warmer months, I may just use a mylar self heating pad or even just a blanket or towel.
This winter we have managed to keep our canopy over the deck. It is not meant for snow or ice to collect on it so it usually comes down in November. We had our first snowfall last week and managed to get all of the snow off with a push broom. For now, the canopy will remain, but if we anticipate a measurable snowfall it will need to be taken down. This leaves the deck exposed except for the tent like structure that houses the heated shelters. I needed to do something to keep snow or rain out of the Magic Boxes. I wanted to use supplies I had on hand instead of purchasing anything new. I was able to find a few large rubbermaid containers and extra lids. I placed the Magic Boxes inside the larger rubbermaid and attached a lid to the top to act as a roof. I just drilled a few holes and fastened it together with zip ties. They are not the most beautiful, but they do the job. Since the exits are on the side, there is plenty off room to get in the entrance and out the side if needed. For the third Magic Box, I was able to use an extra feeding station that wasn’t being used and put the magic box inside. I placed an extra lid on top and attached it with bungie cords and a few bricks on top. We will see how this works once the canopy comes down. Here is a picture. You can see Hampton in the box on the right.
The name “Magic Boxes” came from my son who at the time was a senior in high school. He was off school a few days during the Polar Vortex of 2014 and helped me put together the boxes. I started with one, but quickly made another after the cats loved them. While I was putting the heat pad inside the second one, our indoor cat, Jake went inside and curled up. He thought it was the perfect spot for a nap! A few weeks later, after the cats had been using the Magic Boxes every single day, my son declared them to be “Magic Boxes”. All of the cats like magic went right inside without fear. This also allowed them to brave the new heated house and realize that there is a time and a place for both!
Since the initial 2 Magic Boxes I made in January of 2014, I have made 2 others. Last winter when Cisco was here, he used one either under the deck or under the table outside of my sliding door. All 4 have held up extremely well and I have not had to replace or do repairs on any of them. If you need an easy to make, easy to purchase and inexpensive outdoor cat shelter, you cannot go wrong with the Magic Box!