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3 DIY Self-Warming Cat Beds You Can Make Today (With Pictures)

Elizabeth Gray

By Elizabeth Gray

cat sleeping in bed outdoor_Yulia YasPe, Shutterstock

If you have an outdoor cat that needs to stay cozy or an indoor one that just can’t seem to stay warm, you may have already considered buying a self-warming bed. These nifty beds provide safe and effective warming but can be expensive. Why not consider saving money and making your own instead? Here are three plans for DIY self-warming cat beds that you can make today.

The 3 DIY Self-Warming Cat Beds

1. DIY Heat Reflective Blanket by FeralTrapping

Materials: Mylar blanket, blanket fabric (flannel, etc), batting
Tools: Scissors, sewing machine, or needle and thread
Difficulty Level: Easy

This simple reflective blanket is designed to keep feral cats recovering from surgery warm but can also function as a self-warming bed for other kitties. It requires only a few materials, which can be obtained for a low cost.

The instructional video explains the process of making the blankets thoroughly and includes suggestions for thrifting materials. The most complicated part of this process is sewing the layers of material together, but it will be greatly simplified if you have access to a sewing machine.

2. DIY Insulated Pet Bed by WhatTheCraft

DIY Insulated Pet Bed by WhatTheCraft
Image Credit: WhatTheCraft
Materials: Main fabric (fleece or faux fur), lining fabric (cotton or twill), Insul-bright
Tools: Scissors, sewing machine, or needle and thread
Difficulty Level: Moderate-Hard

This pet bed uses a material called Insul-bright to provide the reflecting heat layer. It does not require many supplies, and the directions are extremely detailed, including pictures. This project requires precise cutting and sewing work that will be easiest for those with experience.

However, first-time DIYers shouldn’t shy away from attempting to make this bed simply because it does include accurate directions. A sewing machine will really make this job easier as well. The blanket can be made to any size, as long as you make the adjustments described in the tutorial.

3. DIY Outdoor Cat Bed from Cheryl Comfort

DIY Outdoor Cat Bed from Cheryl Comfort
Image Credit: Cheryl Comfort
Materials: Plastic storage tub, styrofoam insulation, foam pipe cover, wooden skewers, blanket
Tools: Utility knife
Difficulty Level: Easy-moderate

This self-warming cat house provides shelter and heat for outdoor cats in cold weather. It uses just a few materials easily available at your local home improvement store. Even inexperienced DIYers should be able to handle making this cat bed since the directions are clear and easy to follow.

To encourage stray or outdoor cats to use this bed, try placing a blanket they’ve already been sleeping on inside. It may take kitties some time to grow comfortable using the bed because it is fully enclosed.

How to Keep Outdoor Cats Safe in Cold Weather

Even though the safest place for a cat to live is indoors, the truth is that’s not always possible for every feline.

Many owned cats live outside or in unheated barns in rural areas. You may be caring for unowned stray cats that hang around because you feed them. In some areas, rescue groups manage feral cat colonies, keeping them healthy and their population under control.

All of these cats will probably need help to survive the cold weather. Here are the basics of how you can help:

Shelter and Warmth

You probably don’t need to build additional shelters if you have a barn, shed, or another enclosed space where cats can get out of the wind, rain, and snow. If the building is unheated, the DIY self-warming beds can provide a cozy environment.

Those managing feral cat colonies will likely need to build small shelters in the area to give the cats safe spaces to escape the elements. The DIY cat shelter we described is one such option, but other designs can be constructed as well. Line the shelters with Mylar or provide a self-warming bed for maximum comfort.

Keep Food and Water Available

In the colder months, outdoor cats may struggle to retain access to food and water sources, especially in freezing temperatures.

Keep food dishes sheltered from rain and snow as much as possible. Place them on covered porches or inside buildings if available.

For feral cats, place food inside individual shelters if possible. Another option is to arrange the shelters 2 feet apart, with the doorways facing outward. Secure wide boards between each shelter, creating a canopy to shield food and water dishes.

stray cats eating kibble from bowl
Image Credit: Hulki Okan Tabak, Unsplash

Keep Water From Freezing

Keeping drinking water from freezing will always be challenging unless someone regularly checks on the feral colony. Fortunately, there are several strategies available to help. Solar-heated water bowls can be purchased, although they are not the cheapest choice.

Another option is to place water bowls inside an insulated styrofoam container with a hole cut in the side for access. The styrofoam delays freezing. Use a thick, plastic water bowl, preferably in a dark color.

If you have a large colony to keep hydrated, pack the rim of an old tire with rocks and wedge a bucket in the center. The tire and rocks absorb heat from the sun, keeping the water in the bucket from freezing. You could also place water bowls near outdoor heating pipes.

Monitor Closely During the Cold Season

As much as you may not want to go out in winter weather, keeping a close eye on your outdoor cats is essential. Trouble can happen quickly, especially among feral cats. If you need to take any of them to the vet, keep some self-warming blankets handy to keep them toasty, especially if any sedatives are needed.


Self-warming beds can be both comfortable and potentially life-saving for outdoor cats. Making your own DIY self-warming bed is fairly simple and cost-effective thanks to the three plans we discovered. If you purchase a commercial bed, remember that both heated and self-warming options are available. Unless you have access to a plug or can monitor the temperature of the heated bed, it’s probably safer to stick with self-warming ones.

Featured Image Credit: Yulia YasPe, Shutterstock

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