Some cats love to play in the snow and catch the feathery flakes as they fall. But very cold weather can also be treacherous for cats. Like humans, they can suffer from frostbite, and they can die from hypothermia when their fur gets wet and doesn’t provide as much insulation as usual. One of the most important things you can do for your outdoor cats gives them a cold-weather cat shelter. In fact, in very bad weather, that shelter can be even more important than food.
If your outdoor cats live in an office park or other exposed area, set up your shelter in a stand of trees, under a row of bushes, or in another place where it won’t be noticed by people passing by. Put some bricks under the shelter. It will be warmer if it’s off the ground. And orient it away from direct wind, rain, and snow.
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DIY Cat Shelters
Storage tubs make great cold-weather shelters for cats. An igloo doghouse, 19-gallon plastic storage tub or Styrofoam cooler can become a cozy cold-weather cat shelter. If you use a storage tub or cooler, cut six-inch by six-inch doorways in the long sides of the container. The extra doorway will provide an escape route if another animal wanders into the shelter.
The bottoms of the doorways should be several inches above the ground to prevent flooding.
To insulate the shelter, line the walls and top with pieces of Styrofoam or a Mylar reflective blanket.
To make a Styrofoam cat shelter, use a sheet of hard Styrofoam that’s eight feet long by two feet wide and two inches thick.
Cut the Styrofoam into two 24-inch by 24-inch pieces for the floor and roof of the shelter. For the sides, cut two 12- by 24-inch pieces and two 12- by 20-inch pieces.
Cut a six-inch by six-inch doorways in the longest sides. Then glue all the pieces together with silicone sealant, and paint the shelter with dark green or brown latex deck paint.
Inexpensive Wooden Shelter
Wooden cat shelter by Feral VillasTo build an inexpensive wooden cold-weather cat shelter, use exterior grade plywood or wafer board. The roof should be slanted to drain off rain and snow. Use hinges to attach the roof to the shelter so you’ll have easy access when it’s time to replace the cats’ bedding.
Keeping Them Cozy And Warm
- Use straw, wood chips or shredded newspaper as bedding in your cold weather shelters. The cats will burrow in the straw or newspaper and will stay cozy and warm. Never use blankets, quilts or towels as bedding for outside cats. They retain moisture, and sleeping on wet bedding can make cats sick.
- Remember to put some bricks under the shelter. It will be warmer if it’s off the ground.
- Put a stack of bricks about 12 inches from the entrance to the shelter to block wind and blowing snow.
- Surround the shelter with bails of straw, also to protect it from wind and drifting snow.
- Wrap a SnuggleSafe disc in a cloth and put it inside the shelter. When heated in a microwave oven for a few minutes, the disc will stay warm for several hours.
Cold Weather Essentials For Outdoor Cats
Heat the Snuggle Safe Disc in the microwave for a few minutes, wrap it in a cloth, and put it in your outside cats’ shelter to keep them warm for hours.
This heated bowl gets great reviews on Amazon. It will keep your cats’ wet food and water from freezing.
If you don’t have the time and inclination to make your own cold-weather shelter, this one is heavily insulated and will keep your outdoor cats dry and warm.