Keeping Your Outdoor Cat Safe and Warm in Winter
On this page I'll show you what we devised for our three cats and provide some other ideas for affordable alternatives that you can make yourself. Remember, a cat's coat is not enough to protect them when temperatures dip to freezing and lower.
About Outdoor Cats
Others may simply have a cat that won’t stay indoors without becoming extremely disruptive and/or destructive. In some cases, individuals live in an area where allowing the cat outdoors poses minimal threat. And then of course some people simply don’t agree that cats maintain the best physical and mental health indoors, despite any risks outdoors. You can have your say about this at the bottom of the page.
Certainly, many cats spend time both indoors and out. If you live in an area with cold winters, it’s important to assure any cat that is left out for longer than a few minutes has access to a suitable outdoor cat shelter to protect it from wind, snow, ice, and freezing temperatures.
About My Outdoor Cats
And How We Put Together Our Outdoor Cat Shelter
My husband and I are both allergic to these cats, but particularly since there aren’t any “no kill” shelters in our area taking pets, we chose to do the best we could for them. These cats were also accustomed to being outdoors. Although we do bring them inside to eat, they seldom stay longer than an hour or two.
During our first winter we would put them in the garage, particularly at night. Unfortunately, this wasn’t what they wanted. They managed to scratch and manipulate long enough that they got the door open and fled outside. When we used the dead bolt the next night, they nearly dismantled the door jamb. (yes, we had to replace all of the door trim) We also tried keeping them inside the house. I would bring them into the bedroom and let them sleep on the bed, under the bed, anywhere they wanted. They were fine for about an hour; then it started. Howling, leaping, and scratching until I had to give in and let them out after a few hours.
Clearly this wasn’t working.
1. We bought a pet house we found on sale. A bit large for a cat, but we had three of them and they were accustomed to sleeping together. It wasn’t an insulated cat house. We installed our own insulation with some styrofoam insulation and downsized the front door so that nothing larger than the cats could get in.
2. We bought and installed a “hound heater” which is mounted on the back wall of the house. We ordered it online. It works perfectly, coming on at the designated temperature and putting off a bit of a glow so that we can always tell that it’s functioning just by looking out the window.
3. We also bought a heated cat bed, or actually more of a pad, and put it on the floor of the house.
They used it for a while but then began avoiding it. All that we could imagine is that something else, an opossum for instance, must have entered it at some point. Typically, I think they like to know that if something else comes around there’s an escape. So we ended up cleaning out the house to get rid of any odor, cutting a door in the back for a quick exit, and then making sure the house was sitting so that neither opening would expose them to the prevailing wind but also wasn’t blocked. The picture here was taken while we were cleaning it up and putting a “door” in the back. The picture below is of one of the cats entering the house (no insulation in it yet). You can see the heater above and the heating pad on the floor.
As a note: We had to entice the cats with food to stay in their new 2 door home once they had abandoned it earlier. We fed them there for a short time.
Options for Keeping an Outdoor Cat Warm in Winter
How to Build an Affordable Heated Cat House
What Do You Say?
Should Cats Be Allowed Outdoors Unattended?
No Way! Too Many Dangers
Of Course! They Need to Have Freedom for a Good Quality of Life
About the Author
I'm a loving mom to some indoor/outdoor cats. If your cats go out in winter or you care for strays, you need to learn about outdoor cat shelter on thi... See full bio