Utah man creates 'cat coolers' to help feral cats escape winter cold

OGDEN, Utah – A Utah man’s passion project turns old coolers into warm, insulated spaces for feral cats to take refuge this winter.

“Normally the cooler keeps things cold. We’re going to use it to keep animals warm,” Philip Rogich told KSTU with a smile.

It’s a do-it-yourself project that only takes five minutes, a little elbow grease and a few cheap supplies.

“I actually have a 6-inch drill bit and then once you drill the hole you just use some pipe insulation to pad it,” he said as he pointed to a small opening in the lower right-hand corner of an old cooler.

Pulling out his drill and materials, he starts with an old cooler.

“Everybody’s got a cooler in their garage that they’re not using,” Philip said.

Holding it steady, he drills down through the first layer of plastic, a layer of Styrofoam and then a final layer of plastic.

“I use three-quarter-inch pipe insulation,” he said as he lined the fresh opening with the adhesive-backed foam.

“And then on the inside you just use straw,” Philip said as he pulled straw from one cooler to his now finished project. “Straw has been used for hundreds of years as bedding for animals and that’s because it has the ability to dry out.”

Just like that, his project is complete.

“And there you go! A cat cooler!” he said as he shut the lid. “Two or three cats could fit in a cooler this size!”

Already, Philip has placed a few of these ‘cat pads’ around the Riverdale and Ogden communities -- providing a safe, warm place for feral felines to take refuge this winter.

“ just disappear, get overlooked,” he said. “They get cold in the wintertime too.”

For Philip, it’s more than a passion project, it’s an act of humanity.

“They’re living creatures… to me, living creatures, they deserve to have their basic needs met,” Philip said.

A few furry customers have already used the coolers, but he hopes more will continue to step out of the bushes and into a new home.

“I’m giving them a second chance, one way or another,” he said.

Philip said people are starting to notice his project - several have already offered to donate old coolers and straw. Savers, a local thrift store, also told Philip he could have any unsold coolers at the end of the season.

He intends to continue making cat coolers throughout the winter and in years to come. If you would like to donate a cooler or get a hold of Philip, you can contact him through Facebook.