Helping Hand Pet Rescue of West Virginia Helping Hand Pet Rescue of West Virginia

Can you provide a new permanent home to two or more homeless cats? Barn/outdoor homes are needed for neutered, healthy cats. You must be willing to provide shelter, food, water and long-term veterinary care, if needed. Help put an end to a cat's homelessness by opening your heart to them. Save a life today!

Please join our barn cat list! We would like to have a working list of farms that are able to take up to 2-3 young cats as we rescue and vet them. All the cats have been sterilized and vaccinated against rabies, and now need an outdoor home where they can happily live out their lives.

Cat temperaments range from feral to friendly. A minimum of TWO cats must be placed at the same location at the same time.


and they make great organic rodent control


Is There Is A Need To Provide Shelter For Feral Cats?
As winter closes in, shelter is actually more important for stray & feral cats than food. Hypothermia sets in rapidly
in our wet rainy weather when their fur gets wet.

Cold weather can also be detrimental to strays/ferals as they are more susceptible to respiratory disease, injury, and minor illnesses which can quickly become fatal
Temporary solutions are fine.  When the weather turns bad, the stray outside needs to get into a protected shelter, now. Get him out of the cold, wet, & wind.

Size:  Plan on more guests than you actually see.  If you see two, there are probably four needing shelter 
A good size for a shelter is at least 2x3’ and at least 18” high. Larger shelters are not necessarily better, since heat disperses quickly, leaving the inside as cold as the outside. A space just big enough for three to five cats to huddle is best.

Maintenance: Shelters should be checked regularly to ensure their optimum quality and function. When deciding what kind of shelter to use, remember that some of the low-cost suggestions will need to be checked and replaced more frequently than some of the more permanent and professionally built shelters. Make sure the cat(s) can not be trapped by something falling on or across the shelter in a storm.

Make sure that the door is only big enough for cats. The door should be 6-8" wide to keep out wildlife and larger predators. The opening should have a flap or an L-shaped entryway to keep cold air from blowing in. If neither option is possible, make sure the door faces away from prevailing winds or faces a wall. Some caregivers prefer shelters that have two doors so cats cannot be cornered. 

Protection from the Elements:
You can ensure that the cats are protected by making shelters waterproof, windproof (especially in cold climates), and elevated off the ground. Discarded pallets from shipping firms or hardware, farm supplies, or pet stores are a good option for elevation. The space beneath the shelters should be blocked from drafts. Insulation is a good material to use. Putting the shelter under or in another shelter is great as it provides more protection from the elements.

Straw resists the wet and keeps a shelter warm, and is the best choice for insulation and bedding. Do NOT use blankets, carpeting, fake sheepskin, hay or any material that holds moisture. You can also use hardwood shavings (not cedar or pine), but keep in mind that softwood shavings are not suitable due to possible toxicity. You need to be able to change the bedding on a regular basis regularly  to keep them dry.  Some caregivers in locations with long, cold winters use Mylar blankets as bedding. Mylar is a product that retains body heat. The generic term for Mylar is Polyester Film or Plastic Sheet. These sheets can be purchased from survival and outdoor stores as thermal safety blankets, or online at websites such as 

Shelters should blend in with their surroundings so that they are not obtrusive to neighbors. Cover them with leaves or other brush or paint them a dark color. Moving shelters into wooded areas away from buildings, parking lots, and other high-traffic areas is also a good idea for cat safety and to avoid neighbor complaints.  Anything that stands out could bring unwanted
attention to the cat(s)  Cats will not use a shelter where they
are disturbed.

Deter Wildlife:
Wildlife may decide to make their home in the shelters you provide for the cats. Reducing the shelter door to an opening 6” wide may solve this predicament. Do not use repellents because most of them will repel the cats as well. Some caregivers have resorted to providing additional shelters, accepting that some will be used by wildlife.

Instructions for building a stray cat shelter

With a few supplies available at your local hardware or home store, you can quickly construct a snug shelter for your outdoor friends!

Follow the step-by-step illustrated instructions below.

This is from Spay & Stay's Website and is wonderful and easy to follow.



Assemble your materials

  • 2 storage boxes
  • Insulation
  • Tubing
  • Utility knife
  • Cutting surface
  • Straw
  • Marker
  • Blow/Hair Dryer


More details on materials:

  • Two Rubbermaid® or other brand sturdy storage boxes with lids, one smaller than the other. The inside box should be large enough to house at least two cats comfortably.
  • Rectangle of insulation material, such as styrofoam, cut to fit inside the bottom of the large box
  • Flexible tubing, found at most hardward or home improvement stores, approximately 7" in diameter when closed
  • Utility knife sharp enough to cut through the plastic boxes
  • Block of wood or other sturdy cutting surface
  • Bale of straw (not shown)
  • Black marker such as a Sharpie®


Place the insulation material into the bottom of the larger box.




Place the smaller box inside the larger box to make sure the lid of the outer box wil still close.



Locate your flexible rubber tubing material.




Overlap the ends of the flexible rubber tubing material so that it forms a circle.


More details:

  • You may want to clip the overlapped ends together to hold the tube in a circular shape for now.
  • The circle should be large enough for a cat to get through, but not a raccoon or other similarly-sized animal.
  • Remember: cats can easily squeeze through tiny spaces!


Place the circular tubing at one end of the smaller plastic box, a couple inches up from the bottom of the box.




Use the black marker to trace around the circular tubing. Heat area to be cut with blow dryer to make cutting easier. Once cut, this circle will be the entry into the shelter. A small opening is perfect for cats.




Place the end of the plastic box over a piece of wood, heat area with blow dryer, and use the utility knife to cut out the circle.




You may need a small saw to finish the job.




Place the smaller box inside the large one, and use the cut-out circle to trace the same size circle on one end of the larger box. Cut the circle out of the larger box as in Steps 8 and 9 above.




Place the smaller box inside the larger box and line up the cut-out circles. Squeeze the flexible plastic tubing together and pass it through both circels, making sure it fits snugly.




The tubing should stick out of the outer box a few inches. That way the entryway also serves as a wind break and water shield.





Line the bottom of the smaller box with dry, clean straw. The cats burrow into the straw for warmth. Do not use towels or any other type fabric, which can stay wet and freeze.




Pack the spaces between the two boxes with more straw for additional insulation.




Put the lid on to the smaller inside box, then cover it with plenty of straw. Finally, snap the lid on to the larger outer box.




Your shelter is ready! Place it in a secure place against a sturdy wall or structure. You can also place it under a porch or deck and surround it with bales of straw for added protection from the cold and winter wind.



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