Cat lovers here in Australia are currently faced with the annual problem of how to keep outdoor cats warm in Winter now that the colder weather has arrived. We are not only talking about feral cats and stray cats that may visit our house, but also our own cats that prefer to spend much of their time outside. Therefore, in this article today we will be looking at ways we can help any outside cats that we have become attached to, and also look into why it is so important to help them out, especially when temperatures drop to below freezing.
Action Plan to Keep Outdoor Cats Warm
1. Provide them with adequate food
Many people may think that having a fur coat will be enough for a cat to survive outside during the winter, but that is not the case. Cats need to feed at least twice a day, especially during winter, as they use much more energy and burn extra calories just trying to keep warm. They also need to eat to keep their energy levels up so they can hunt efficiently, because the more meals they miss, the less effective they are at hunting and it will be harder for them to stay warm.
2. Provide food and drink that won’t freeze
There are quite a few things we can do to help these outside cats make it safely through the cold weather months, like putting out some dry cat food. Dry cat food won’t freeze or dry out like canned or wet food will, also we can make sure there is fresh water close by, and be sure to change it frequently during temperatures that may make it freeze quickly. However, putting water under some cover and off the ground will help to ensure it doesn’t freeze so quickly, or you can place the water bowl on top of some insulation to help prevent freezing too.
3. Provide outdoor comfort facilities
Actually trying to help outdoor cats keep warm during the winter can seem difficult, depending on where you live, but by thinking a little logically it can be quite simple to do. For instance, if you have a car port, you can put a blanket down, and water shouldn’t freeze too easily under cover either, or if you have a full garage, you could install a cat flap in the door. Alternatively, you could also install a cat flap in a garden shed, or leave the door ajar in a glass house.
4. Providing an outdoor shelter using existing facilities
Buildings can be a great source of warmth for outdoor cats, but not everyone has these outdoor buildings, so then we have to be a bit more innovative. Having said that, you can build a shelter for outdoor cats in your yard or garden and it doesn’t have to be anything fancy, in fact, an old kitchen cabinet can work well by taking one door off to allow access. A kitchen cabinet may have a second or third shelf, ideal for the cat to climb up on. Keep in mind, that any shelter that you build should not be too big, as then the cats won’t be able to generate enough body warmth to stay warm.
5. Building an outdoor shelter
Building a shelter from scrap wood, pallets or other materials can also be a family project if you have children, just be sure to remove any nails sticking out so the cats come to no harm. Here is a short YouTube video to give you some ideas on how to construct one:-
It is always better to build a small shelter with small access to prevent predators from getting inside, and be sure to raise it off the ground, as this will add extra warmth. You can also add in some hay or straw, as these are great ways to keep an area nice and cozy, just remember that when hay or straw gets wet it will be no good for keeping cats warm.
6. Purchasing an outdoor shelter
That being said, you can also purchase outside shelters for cats, and they come in all shapes and sizes, as well as a variety of styles and colors. Here is one that can be purchased from Amazon:-
This can be handy if you have a community of feral cats in your area, or you can just build a larger shelter yourself. Having said that, cats are individuals and some prefer to be alone while others prefer company, so it is a good idea to build more than one shelter if you have the space. Once you have your shelters situated, if your cats do not seem to be using the shelters, you can provide some catnip to make it more enticing, or find out where they are sleeping and upgrade it with some cover and straw.
7. Special Winter considerations
When the first snowfall shows, be sure to shovel away snow from the entrances of your cat shelters or they may move away, the entrance should always be kept clear of snow and debris. One should not put water bowls inside a shelter as the water can be spilled and that will make the shelter cold, especially at night, so put it outside the shelter somewhere covered if possible. Having said that, you can purchase heated water bowls to prevent freezing as his one from Amazon:-
You can also buy a thick plastic water bowl that is deep rather than wide and shallow, this will also help prevent freezing water.
8. Other types of shelters
Another way to ensure everything is to their liking, is to build two small shelters facing each other, then put a canopy connecting the two. In fact two shelters facing each other will be ideal for two or more cats, and you can put the food and water under the canopy that connects the two shelters. By facing the two shelters you will also be avoiding a build up of snow in the entrances, so that if you are out for the day they will still be able to access one or the other shelter.
9. Final precautions
Finally, once you have your shelters and food and water bowls situated, your cats should do well over the frigid winter months. However, still take some precautions where outside cats are concerned, for instance, cats are notorious for climbing under wheel arches and even under the hood where the engine is. Having said that, always check your tires, and under the hood during winter time, and be sure to keep anti-freeze away from where animals can get to it, as it is extremely poisonous to cats and other animals.
Your Feedback Matters to me!!! I can’t answer if you don’t ask!! Any Questions?? Use the comments section below and I will respond.