Thursday, December 9, 2010

Shelter Ideas for Outdoor Cats

Feral cat in winter:  Image by Susan Golis

Cats that live outside need shelter from rain, wind, ice and snow.  An outdoor cat will adapt to winter conditions provided they have adequate shelter.  I believe that all cats should live indoors but many people keep cats outdoors.

If you have an outdoor cat then you must provide the cat with an insulated shelter for summer and for winter.  Allowing your cat access to the area under your deck is not a shelter unless you provide insulated exterior walls, a solid wood platform flooring that lift the cat off the cold ground. 

Waterproof the shelter so that the rain does not pour down on the cat from the slats in the wood decking and provide the cat with thermal bedding.
As a colony caregiver I provide shelter for feral cats by opening up my garage to the cats.   We have installed a kitty door and this door is open at all times. Inside the garage shelter the feral cat has access to cat grasses that I grow in containers by the southern window and they also have raised insulated bedding of straw or self warming beds for the cold and in the summer we have cozy beds and a window air conditioner and heater.
Insulated raised cardboard shelter
Straw bedding with back escape door
Shelter Ideas for Winter

Keep cats warmer in the winter by raising their beds off the floor. I raised the bedding by setting the insulated bedding on kennel flooring. by elevating the cat bedding I will enable the cats to not feel the coldness of the cement floor.

The floor of the box was insulated with another layer of cardboard.  On top of the insulated cardboard I added 8 inches of straw.  On top of the straw I laid a polar fleece blanket. 

The blanket was molded into a bed for the cats and the sides were raised to form a layer of insulation.  On top of the fleece blanket I placed another four inches of straw.   The straw was elevated on the sides leaving bedding area in the center of the box.  This insulated box will keep the feral cats warm throughout winter.

Another way to provide shelter for the feral cats is with a kitty tube shelter.  What I like about this shelter is that it can be used outdoors or inside an uninstalled garage or shed.  The tube provides up to 3 cats a safe, secure and cozy sleeping chamber.  That will keep the cat warm in winter and cool in summer.  The four walls of the tube are insulated to protect the feral cats from extreme weather; heat and cold. This Alley Cat Allies approved cat shelter is made from recycled milk and detergent bottles which makes this a green house for cats.

About my garage cat shelter

The garage is made of clay block with metal roof and one large southern exposure insulated window.  The shelter does provide the cat with an area that is not damp and is a break from the wind.  To help to keep the cats warm I have space heaters, wall mounted electric heater and a kerosine heater when there are power failures.

During the day the sun enters the shed from the southern exposed window.  The sun warms the clay block walls and the clay blocks provide heat.  At night the wall mounted heater and space heaters keep the shelter from freezing.  The cats are warm and cozy in their insulated straw beds or inside their cat houses.

Wall mounted garage heater
Garage Ceiling-Mount 5000 Watt Electric Heater

We have turned our detached garage into a shelter for the feral cats. The cats can come as they please as the kitty door is always open.   

Photographs I took of Feral cat Dens:

Thicket Den: feral cat shelter: Image by sgolis

For outdoor cat shed or garage shelters cat set a box of kitty litter and small bowl of fresh water and food in the shed.  Set the food and water close to the door and then leave.

Feed cats in the shelter during the daylight hours, feed at the same time daily.  Mix wet food with dry kibble.  The wet food will keep the cats hydrated. 

Feral cat eating outside shed: Image by Sgolis
Do not put cat food in your garage or shed shelter at night. Night feeding will attract raccoons, possum and skunks.

Do not set space heater close to cat bedding, the noise from the heater clicking on and off will scare the cats.  Set the heater three to four feet away from cats resting area.

Learn how to make an inexpensive insulated shelter for your cat by viewing this YouTube video:

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