How To Keep Outdoor Cats Warm In Winter. Advice On Innovative Ways

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.

how to keep outdoor cats warm in winter



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:-

outdoor cat shelter

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.


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Author: James Kelly

James Kelly is a network marketer and blogger who earns a living from affiliate programs and blogs

25 thoughts on “How To Keep Outdoor Cats Warm In Winter. Advice On Innovative Ways”

  1. Thanks for the info James! As a cat owner myself, and living in Ohio, this information will indeed be needed this winter. Our cat loves to be outdoors even in the winter months, and now I feel better when she stays outside. Thanks for the informative post!

  2. my husband has put a heat pad in the igloo for our outside cat. It is 32 degrees outside and is 85 degrees inside the igloo. The cat is not inside. What temperature should the igloo be for the cat to be comfortable?

    1. Hi Gladys,

      I have never used an igloo for our cats so maybe other readers can comment from their experience with theirs. Has your cat ever used the igloo? Cats are funny creatures at times and aren’t always receptive to new things so it may take some time for you cat to get used to the heating pad. if your cat does use the igloo but finds the heating pad too warm maybe you could place a towel over it. Jim

  3. Keeping your pet safe is really good and everyone who owns a pet should be smart enough to make provision to keep them warm and sheltered. I really like the idea of purchasing an outdoor shelter just in case they don’t feel like coming in sometimes. They can stay in there. Great idea

  4. Hey James 

    Thank you for insights you have shared here. Cold weather can be really hard on cats and other pets that live outside and I think pet owners should make efforts to keep their pets warm even during freezing temperatures. Your recommendations here should make it easy for pet owners during winter days to keep the cats warm. 

  5. Hey James, Thank you for insights you have shared here. The health and welfare of one’s cat should always be a priority as they need special attention. It’s good that you have shared this here as I’m sure it will be helpful to a whole lot of people. I think pet owners should make efforts to keep their pets warm even during freezing temperatures.

  6. Winter is around the corner and I am really into DIY stuff. But this is the first winter our cat will spend with us and I am not sure if building a shelter myself or purchasing one. What would you recommend? Can things go wrong when you don’t have experience building shelters?

    1. Good to hear from you Abel and thanks for those comments. If you are into the DIY stuff then you may get some ideas for building an outdoor cat shelter from  the following link:-

      Alternatively if you don’t want to build one yourself you can purchase a well made sturdy shelter from Amazon such as the one described in the article. Amazon has a variety of these shelters that you can choose from. If you go down that path read up the buyers reviews before choosing one that is suitable. Jim



  7. Well this is certainly something I have never thought about before! Both of my cats are outside cats and they like to come inside and stay outside. I have personally never had any issues in the winter, they tend to just stay inside 90% of the time in the winter. However, the tips given here have surely been of great help to me! Thank you for this creative and insightful article

    1. Many thanks for those interesting comments and pleased to hear that your cats enjoy the comforts of home on the cold wintry days. Jim

  8. Hi

    You assume because of their thick fur that cats will not feel the cold but probably like everybody they can suffer from it. I think all your suggestions are not only practical but can applied to your cats with very little time and effort  I can imagine my cat being snug as a bug in a rug, as she does like her creature comforts and a roaring fire in winter. Do you think cats need  extra attention  in winter or is it summer?



    1. Thank you for those comments Antonio which are greatly appreciated. In answer to your question I think it depends on whether your cat is predominantly an outdoors cat as those cats need extra care and attention from their owners during the cold Winter months than cats that are snug inside. Jim

  9. Hi James, Thanks for the interesting article on Keeping Cats Warm in Wintertime. I loved the idea of the two Rubbermaid containers stacked inside each other with straw for insulation. What a unique waterproof building material to use. You just need to be able to access straw and keep it dry. We live in Manitoba with winter temperatures getting -30, -40C with the wind chill. So needless to say, our cat is an indoor cat. Living in the city, we have in recent years had to license our cats, and can keep no more than 3 to a household. I loved your informative post!

    1. Many thanks Carolyn for those great comments. Interesting to also note that where you live the City’s authorities only allow you to have 3 cats as a pet owner. Jim

  10. This article is a very good one and it is very thoughtful of you to share it here. A lot of people don’t treat animals like they are worthy of being cared for which is very wrong. The advice in ‘Keeping outdoor cats warm during winter’ twill be very helpful to us pet lovers and thank you for it

  11. Well, I don’t think that it is new to anyone how cats can get really cold during the winter and all we want to do is try to find a way to make them feel warm. I think the tips you have here are very essential to help them with that and it is also something that I would definitely want to try with my little sisters cat. We had the idea of wearing a custom cloth for the cat, is that okay?

    1. Thank you Jackie for those comments. Anything warm, such as what you suggested, is certainly appropriate for an outdoors cat in Winter. Jim

  12. Hello,

    Ever since my childhood, 55 years ago, I always knew that my mother had a cat. The animal was always treated with a lot of love with us. To this day (my mother is now 78 years old) she still takes care of cats that have been evicted and neglected. She always says, “This is my life!”

    That is also why I have become a great animal lover and I cannot tolerate injustice towards animals.

    I do have a question: if our cat had caught a field mouse, she always came and put it on an outdoor mat in front of the door. Is that just to show how good she is?

    Beautiful site!
    Keep up the good work!

    Best regards,


    1. A beautiful story Peter and thanks for sharing it with us. In answer to your question your cat displayed far more consideration to you than one of ours did to us. We found the dead ones under our bed!! Cats are great mouse hunters! Jim

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