Saturday, November 26, 2011

How to Set up Outdoor Shelter for Cats



If you have an outdoor cat, care for them by providing them with an insulated  shelter.    Buy or make cat shelters that will provide  outdoor cats with a front door and an exit door.  These doors will allow the cat to escape the shelter unharmed if a predator should enter one of the doors. 



 Set up the shelters in an area that is protected from street and human traffic.  Choose a secluded area in your yard that is off the beaten path.  My outdoor cat shelter is located with house to the back, wall to the one side and evergreen bamboo on the other side.  The branches of the bamboo shrub conceal the cat shelter. It is protected from wind and predators.  It is wise to set the shelter up off the ground to prevent the interior from getting wet, and it will protect the cat shelter from becoming buried under ice and snow. 

Line the interior of the shelter with a foot of straw.  The straw will provide the cats with the warmth that they need.  Refrain from using blankets or rugs as they hold the moisture and will feel cold to the cat.  Okay to use thermal fleece blanket as extra insulation provided you mix with straw.
Bedding inside shelter
Feral cat resting inside insulated shelter

 Last year I filled the cat shelter with a foot of straw and then used my hands to make a bed in the center of the straw.  I pushed the straw up on the sides of the heavy plastic dome tube shelter.  By doing this the feral cat could lie in the center and have the thermal straw around him.  I also added a thermal cat bed that was self heating in the center of the straw.  By doing this I provided the feral cats with a shelter that was windproof, waterproof and warm. 

 Tips:
  1. Set the cats feeding station away from the shelter. Do this to keep predator away from the shelter.
  2.  Domesticated cats should be brought in at night to protect them from predators.
  3.  A one door cat shelter is fine for a daytime shelter.  However all cats that live outdoors continually need a shelter that provides them with a front door and an exit door.  These doors are meant to protect the cat.  Example:  If the cat is sleeping in the outdoor shelter a dog, fox, raccoon or coyote may enter the front of the shelter trapping the cat that is inside.  
  4. Check the shelter bedding daily, as cat may mark the straw. Remove the marked straw and replace with fresh.  
  5. An insulated cat shelter is an investment that will provide the feral cats with year round shelter from extreme heat and cold.
  6. Purchase bales of straw at Lowe's or Home Depot garden center or at farm store.  One bale of straw will keep 4 cats warm for 3 months in winter