DogsCatsFish & AquariumsReptiles & AmphibiansRodentsRabbitsExotic PetsBirdsFarm Animals as Pets

How To Keep Outdoor Cats Warm In Winter

Updated on February 5, 2016

Contrary to popular belief, a warm fur coat does not keep you (nor a cat) warm all through the wintertime. While cats are normally independent, they do need our help to get them through the cold of winter.

Here's what to keep in mind so you can keep your favorite feline warm all thru the cold winter months --

Give Food Daily

Outside cats need regular feeding on a daily basis. This is necessary for two very important reasons. The first reason is that well-fed cats are better hunters. Yes, yes...it sounds counter-productive, but in reality, a well-fed cat hunts better. A cat is only successful 2-3 times per 10 times that it hunts. (This is true whether you're talking about domestic cats or their larger cousins.) Cats need food on a daily basis so they can be strong enough to hunt.

Not all cats have a strong urge or desire to hunt; let alone eat what they hunt and kill. Cats have different personalities, just like us humans do. Over the years, I've seen my own cats differing personalities - some were great mousers, some were great bird hunters, and some didn't really care to do much more than look outside the windows and be amused.

There are other factors you should keep in mind about daily feeding. Be aware of the fact that mice (and other rodents) can have: disease(s), parasites, worms and other things that are not beneficial to cats and/or humans. This fact alone is a major reason why I do regular, daily feeding of my outside cats. I certainly don't want my cats getting sick because they ate a mouse with a disease or parasites!

Another reason a cat needs regular, daily feeding (and the extra calories the cat gets from the food) is because it takes more energy to keep warm and maintain their body temperature during those cold winter months. Speaking of "warm" - keep in mind dry cat food doesn't freeze. It's easier to feed dry cat food because it doesn't dry out, doesn't freeze, and most of the time, most cats will tolerate eating it.

Gimme Shelter

The next way to keep your outside cat warm in winter is to have a safe place for the cat to sleep. A cat needs shelter during the long, cold winter nights - just big enough for a cat (or two), but not for a dog, raccoon, possum, skunk, or other outside creatures. Personally, I have a couple of different places set up for my outside cats.

In one spot, I have an outside "closet." (Actually this is where I've got my washer & dryer.) There's a small cat door for them to go in and out. The "closet" provides a good wind-break. Just cutting down the amount of wind (or completely eliminating the wind) makes a big difference in temperature and comfort of the cats.

It Doesn't Have To Be A Palace

My other shelter is an "igloo" type of shelter. O.K., it's really called a "dogloo," but I'm a cat person...what can I say? Anyway, the igloo is not very large, it's insulated (warmer in winter & cooler in summer) and has a small opening. I've placed a sleeping bag inside. That way, the cats have a warm, soft something to snuggle into, plus the sleeping bag itself is insulated for winter weather.

Where you place the "igloo" is important. I've set mine up in our carport - the car port itself provides some wind break. My car port has walls on all three sides. Even on the coldest of winter days, I've found it can be at least 5 degrees warmer just being in the car port. I haven't measured the temperature in my outside cat "closet," but I'm sure the difference in temps are similar because it's enclosed on all 4 walls (with only one door for me & the cats to get in and out).

Also, remember to set the outside "igloo" or cat shelter up a bit, off of the ground. Or at least put the igloo on a wood pallet or some other material. Not only do cats prefer to be up off the ground, it you set the shelter off the ground, it won't leech the cold from the ground (or from the cement if you set things up in your car port or garage).

Don't Forget These

Another option (depending upon your budget) is having one of those enclosed oil-filled radiator heaters in your cat "closet." Since they're fully enclosed, you don't run any risk of fires, and the cats enjoy the extra heat. They usually have a couple of buttons so you can regulate the amount of heat generated. The units are normally set up to turn on and off when a particular set temperature is reached. They usually cost under $100, and last for many years. Most home improvement stores (like Lowe's) carry them.

Lastly, put out fresh water every day. However, you need to be aware of how cold it's going to get overnight because water does freeze! (I'm ashamed to say how many mornings I've found frozen water in the bowls...although, I'm getting better at remembering).

Try to place the water where it won't freeze, or invest in a heated bowl. If, for bugetary reasons, you can't see your way clear to buy a heated bowl, then you need to put out fresh, clean water in the same place and at the same time. The cats will learn your schedule an dwill come to drink the water at those times. Cats do like having routines.

All, or most of the above said and done, you should have a warm, comfy and happier cat during the winter.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Donna Mac 7 months ago

      I live in Canada and have 3 strays that live in my backyard. I made beds from the large Tupperware containers, lined them with insulation, covered that with plastic and covered that with Mylar blankets. Then put a fleecy cat mat in each one. On very cold nights I use the My Warm Pet microwaveable heat pad & slip it under the fleecy bed. Lasts for 10-12 hours. They are warm on those freezing nights! Each bed cost about $20 to make. I don't know if the heaters are really necessary as the Mylar reflects the heat back to them...but I do it anyway.

    • profile image

      warmheartedwinter 8 months ago

      I have never been an animal owner nor have I ever really been attached to animals in my adult life, as a child I would be heartbroken for any animal but as an adult I wasn't much into animals.. until I found this little cat outside my friends door, cold wet and hungry. he ran away from everyone who tried to pet him, something made me go outside and as soon as I did he ran straight for me and hugged my leg! he was all over me and I really broke down over him. I posted him everywhere hoping to find his home for him to be warm. but nobody came forward and my cat loving friend said he looks to be abandoned on purpose in this cold. he is so skinny. the most friendly sweet playful kitten. I live with my brother for now and he has a wife with three cats and a dog inside and they just refuse to let my kitten inside. grayz (what I named him) is in the garage, not heated but out of the wind and a bit warmer than outside. I put out blankets for him up on the fridge where he seems to be everytime I go to feed and see him. he doesn't touch the water much but scarfs down the food. I was wondering if there is something I need to be doing more, I feel like I'm letting him down.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 8 months ago from TX

      Bettybb,

      Sorry, forgot to say one more thing - perhaps you could also ask a neighbor to put dry food out in-between your visits to the cats. Hope all this helps.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 8 months ago from TX

      Bettybb,

      First of all - kudos to you for your outstanding achievement of helping so many feral cats over an extended time period! What you've done is challenging & you're to be commended for it. Many cats have survived & went on to live happy & healthy lives with loving families due to your efforts.

      Now, the hard part - suggestions for your current situation. I'm assuming you can't change your moving date & as you've stated, momma cat has a new litter of kittens (and you don't know their location), plus momma cat is hostile. Unfortunately, I don't have any bright ideas. There are hard choices to be made here.

      You have to move. OK, that's do-able. You can't find the new kittens - more than likely momma cat has hidden them very well. You're going to have to wait it out...until she either moves them where you can find them, and/or they get old enough for you to find & spay/neuter them. Hopefully, momma cat will get more friendly as time goes by so you can spay her too.

      Now, as far as feeding the little ones - poultry is OK, but not by itself. Momma & older kittens can eat that, and momma cat can suckle the new kittens. I'd use dry food in addition to the poultry. The reason is this - since it's winter, they need as much nutrition as possible. Food helps keep cats warm in the winter time. But the poultry does NOT give the cats enough nutrition that they need. The dry food will add additional vitamins, minerals & things like taurine that are essential and critical for cats.

      OK...please be aware (it might sound cruel, but it isn't) - it will be OK to feed the cats every other day (or worse case, every 2-3 days). Hopefully, you can do every other day. In the wild, cats do NOT necessarily eat every day. Cats (either large or small) are only successful in hunting approximately 30% of the time. This translates to eating every couple of days or so.

      So, the bottom line is this - feel OK about your moving, and feel as good as you can about feeding the cats every chance you can, even if it's every 2-3 days. Put down as much water as possible (maybe getting a neighbor to change out the water for the cats). And put down some dry food. Cats don't over-eat nearly as much as dogs do, so they should be OK until you can get back to them.

      I wish I had better news & suggestions for you. Life is not always easy, but know you've done your best, and will continue to do so. The cats (all of those you've helped in the past, and the current ones), me & the Divine Creator are grateful for what you've done and will continue to do.

      Hope all goes well with the move, and Momma Cat and the kittens.

    • profile image

      bettybb 8 months ago

      Please help. I urgently need some suggestions.

      For many years, I've taken care of the ferals on my street, getting them spayed/neutered, giving them outside shelters, and feeding them. I've taken many in and currently have seven indoor cats. But this fall, a mother cat and her two kittens moved into the neighborhood, and I believe the mother recently had yet another litter. Her other two kittens are probably about six or seven months old now.

      The problem: I'm moving next week, and I'm so worried about this mother cat and her kittens. I will only be able to get back every two to three days to bring them water and food. If I leave a lot of food out, they will eat it all quickly. If I leave water, it will freeze.

      Do you have any suggestions?

      I can't take them with me as they are way too vicious. The mother growls at me. I could take them to a local shelter, but, as I said, the mother cat likely has a recent litter somewhere out there. So I would have to wait until those kittens start making an appearance in order to nab them.

      What kind of food could I put out that would have a lot of moisture and that they would possibly eat slower? I was thinking about poultry.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 8 months ago from TX

      Dorothy,

      Thank you so much for your kind comments. I'm thrilled you are going to use some of the suggestions on this Hub to help you with the cats that come to your shop. You've done a great job taking care of the cats in your life. Having the cats neutered and making sure they've gotten good homes is awesome!

    • profile image

      Dorothy 8 months ago

      Jean

      Thank you so much for the great advice, I have a coffee shop where I have a few cats that show up, there is a couple that have each other!

      But I have one that had kittens and my sis and I trapped mama and reused the kittens, I got mama kitty fitted and kept the babies until they were ready for homes!! But mama was not going to have it and would not stay with me! So I took her back to my shop and released her and she had been coming to see me twice a day for two years now, she was nine months when I trapped her!! I'm so in love wing her and of course for her so much in the cold winter!! She now talks to us, but will not let me get too close, closer then before, but the other two that come, have kept her from coming and hanging around like she use to..

      I am going try your idea to keep her warm!!

      Thank you so much for being such a loving and helpful person!!

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 9 months ago from TX

      Dear MommainNCMO,

      You've done a great job with a limited budget. Sometimes, it takes a Mama cat a bit of time to find the best way to take care of her babies. I can't say for sure, but this might be her second litter, and she's still "learning the ropes"so to speak (she might be discovering how to best raise the little ones).

      Anyway, here's an idea - you might want to use a SMALL bit of catnip within the shelter. Just rub a bit of catnip on the straw or wall of the shelter. Why I say use a SMALL bit is because the little ones are just that, they're very young, and you do NOT want to overdo the catnip. The catnip scent is mostly for Mama and the older kitten. If you can interest Mama & the older kitten, then it should just be a question of keeping them happy so they'll stay inside the shelter.

      I can't think of anything else to really encourage Mama cat to use the shelter. It's mostly up to her - give her some space & some time -- she should realize the shelter is a good place to keep the little ones. To help ease a bit of your worries -- just be aware that Mama and the older kitten will snuggle up with the little ones no matter where they sleep on any given day/night. All of the cats together will help keep each of them warmer (so even having them use the older upholstered chair helps because 1.) it's somewhat insulated on the bottom & the back and 2.) they have the space to snuggle up together on the chair and 3.) it's off the floor (which would allow the cold to seep into any blanket you put just on the floor)...in other words, a chair seat elevates the insulation of the chair seat so it helps to keep the cats warmer than just the floor.

      I hope all goes well & Mama cat and her kittens are warm, safe and healthy this winter. With all best wishes for all of you this Winter season!

    • profile image

      MommainNCMO 9 months ago

      i have four outdoor cats one is 2 and is momma to the otehr s one is 9mo.s he's her big boy and protects her and the twins and the other two are 3-4 mo.s The babies verry protected by momma and bubba, today i made a warm kitty box useing a tote and Straw also scatter straw in nooks and crannies they like to get in in my grage My garage isnt heated and i'm on a limited budget Very limited but anyway i bought a bale of straw and have two sides and the top of the sheleter incased in it Straw on top straw in small Bundles against two sides the box is on four layers of cardboard to keep off the cement floor and i even maede it with a back door for escape problem they arent useing it and it is really cold to night we had a sleet storm today i cannot heat the garage not practical as it is old and the doro dosent close right leaving a three inch gap at the bottom kittys use to get in and out but it is a wind break for them tehy like curling up in my husbands work chair a old metal office chair with upholstered back seat and arm rests instead of the box how can i make the warm kitty box more appealing? I dont want my babies freezeing though they are feral and i can only touch the nine month old and one four month old and only a storke or two they are loved and well fed with room temp watter at least once a day I try for twice but their are times its not possible any advice on getting them to use the shelter ?

    • profile image

      Jean 9 months ago

      Hi Jonelle,

      There can be many reasons why your friendly stray cat now won't go near his new shelter. It could be another cat, or another animal (possum, raccoon, skunk, etc.) has gone and investigated his shelter & left their scent all over it. If this is the case, once their scent dissapates, he'll go in & re-scent the shelter & he'll reclaim the shelter as his.

      There could be some "off-gassing" of whatever materials make up the rubbermaid house. Some plastics & other synthetic materials let go molecules as the material(s) which make up the shelter grow older/age. For example: when you purchase a new carpet for your home, some carpets let go of the formaldehyde within the carpet or the carpet padding. This should only last a short period of time.

      I'm not able to say with any certainty which, if any, of the above is your correct answer. Could be one, several, or something else entirely - which is why your stray cat isn't going near the shelter.

      Be patient. Give him some time. Hopefully, he'll decide to return to the shelter...as long as he deems it safe, he should return. Perhaps, in the meantime, you could provide him with an alternative shelter...that way, he'll have somewhere to go & keep warm right now. And then, in a little while - he'll have the choice as to which shelter he prefers to stay in.

      Most cats do prefer to change where they sleep every now & again. This is a part of their nature. Once he lets you know his preference(s), the other shelter can provide an opportunity to keep another cat warm in winter.

      Hope this helps.

    • profile image

      jonelle kanouse 9 months ago

      I made a friendly stray cat a rubbermaid house and bought hem a bed to keep him warm for the winter, he went inside it for about 3 days and loved it, now he won't go near it. There is a bed in it and a bale of straw all around it. Anyone have any thoughts on this

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 3 years ago from TX

      Dear VWSouza,

      It's understandable your feral cat doesn't like to be confined. In fact, he/she might not ever like confinement. That being said, you've done very well scenting the Kitty Tube with catnip. Most cats like catnip, so that's a great move on your part. I've only come across one or two cats in my 60 years that didn't like catnip much.

      The only other tips I have for you would be patience, patience and more patience. If you try to force things, the cat WILL resist. The idea (as you have grasped) is to get the cat more familiar with the Kitty Tube so he'll use it.

      When he's around the Kitty Tube, use a nice soft voice and praise him, talk to him - which should help get the cat used to & associate positive feelings around the Kitty Tube. Then it's just a waiting game on your part to see if he will use it or not. The nature of a cat is sometimes contrary.

      Wish I could be of more assistance. Hope this helps.

      Jean

    • profile image

      VWSouza 3 years ago

      I have a feral cat and providing him with a nice, warm shelter is my #1 concern. I bought this - http://superblog.co/the-kitty-tube-outdoor-cat-hou... - recently and I'm quite happy with it. The design is top-notch, the top fits securely so there are no leaks when it's raining, and there is Styrofoam insulation all around the shell including a top baffle to keep the cat super warm inside. The top lid rotates to open or close a set of holes which act as vents. This outdoor cat house comes with a really plush bed that looks and feels soft and comfortable. It's made from lightweight plastic and is very easy to carry and move around. It's also non-obtrusive and doesn't stand out like a sore thumb so that's another plus as well.

      My only issue with it is that the cat I'm trying to shelter is feral and doesn't really like to be confined - at least not yet anyway. I purchased two outdoor heating pads and placed one inside The Kitty Tube and the other one on top of a patio chair. So far the cat seems to like the chair better even as the temperatures have dropped in the low 20s the last few nights. I'm assuming it's because the cat is more familiar with the chair and has seen The Kitty Tube only for a few days. I tried enticing it with cat nip but so far he's only gone inside The Kitty Tube for about a minute or so at a time. If you have any tips on how I can make him use The Kitty Tube that would be super! Thanks in advance...

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 3 years ago from TX

      Marian,

      Wow...that's a puzzler for sure. I can think of a few reasons, but I'd be hard pressed to say for certain, which of them (or perhaps something else) is the cause of her not going into her house. Obviously, there's a strong reason for her not to go into a warm house in the cold winter.

      1. It could be that another animal has used the house & has it's scent all over it, and is causing her to not want to invade the take-over animals "territory." Could be another cat or another animal species.

      2. Possibly, she's found another location/home that she prefers.

      3. She could be coming to the house & you are not around at the time to notice. Could be she's had a litter of kittens and has them in another location & she's not ready to move them yet.

      Could be any one, combination of, or another reason(s) entirely. While, I know this is little consolation for you, especially when it's bitter cold outside - know that she will go where-ever she's most comfortable & warm. She's NOT going to let herself suffer if she can possibly help it.

    • profile image

      Marian 3 years ago

      I bought my outdoor cat a cedar insulated house that she has used for 2 years... I have a bed inside and keep it fresh and clean as much as I can... howevr this winter she has decided not to use it... it has been extremly cold in Pennsylvania and I am worried sick that she wll freeze... when the snow comes she leaves and I do not know where she goes... I two cat beds sitting on bathroom rugs that she sleeps on... but she will not go into the house... I ought a new bed and put it in today but she chooses to sleep in the open area... do you have any idea why she would all of sudden not go into her house? Bewildered...

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 3 years ago from TX

      Samjsp & Carole,

      Cats will seek out comfort and their best interests if at all possible. Keeping an animal dry in the winter-time is crucial to their health and well being. Depending upon the humidity levels, a warmer should dry up a damp blanket, but will take a VERY long time if it's more than just damp. Hopefully, the cat will find the straw filled shelter to be more to his/her liking.

      Putting a barrier between the floor & any bedding is important. Something like a trash bag, then styrofoam, then the bedding will help. Also, if you elevate the whole thing OFF the floor entirely, this helps tremendously. I'm not sure, Carole what you mean by "having a booder over him"...so if you mean a heat style lamp, yes, this would be very helpful in keeping him warm in the wintertime.

    • profile image

      Carole 3 years ago

      I have my cat in the garage and i have a booder over him which is on a timmer..now i noticed that when i lifted his pillow there was moisture between the pillow and the blanket he was lying on it hasn;'t done throught to touch him but i am concerned it looks like condensation. Should i put a sheet of styrofoam under his cat bed?

      let me know soon ok?

    • profile image

      samjsp 3 years ago

      Thank you for the quick response.

      Do you think the kitty will be OK with the mattress cover blanket if she chooses not to use the straw filled shelter? I was hoping the warm water bottles will dry up the blanket. Do you think so? Thanks again!

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 3 years ago from TX

      samjsp,

      Thank you for your very kind comments. I'm thrilled you have gotten value out of my Hub (which is the reason why I wrote it in the first place). I adore animals, especially cats, and it does my heart good to know in some small way, I've helped cats and their human companions with this Hub.

      My thanks to all the readers and writers of comments to my Hub. Your comments have taught me SO much, and have helped countless companion animals. Many blessing to all (human and animal).

    • profile image

      samjsp 3 years ago

      Jean,

      Thank you so much for having this hub! Such great and helpful tips in keeping an outdoor kitty warm for the winter. Thanks again!

      A cat has found our family about a week and a half ago. I'd like to bring her into our home until I find her owners, but haven't yet so I think she may be a common "drop-off". It's obvious that she was once someone's pet. After reading all of the comments left here, I've come up with a shelter for her. Before bed, I warm up her water and she has warmed up wet food, and gets a cup of dry food every morning. For the shelter, we took a dog crate made for a medium sized dog, took carpet remnants and covered up the air vents, then covered it with a towel and my son's sleeping bag. For the inside, there's a thick layer of straw, and a twin size mattress cover. At night, I heat up several 20 ounce pop bottles with hot water and line the bottom of the crate, underneath the straw and it seems to hold the heat a little better. There is a "lean-to" made of heavy plastic over the shelter to block more wind and the snow. It seems to help alot. Because I've read that having a blanket isn't a good idea, there's a smaller shelter with only straw in it. She doesn't use it and can tell because the straw hasn't been disturbed. I hope she doesn't develop any sickness from a damp blanket. But the option of straw is available to her.

      It gets pretty cold here in New York, and I'm waiting to get her to trust us enough to be able to take her to the vet. We are going to try to bring her inside, and in the meantime, getting my 3 indoor jealous cats used to her at a distance. We bring her in for about half hour a couple times a day and hold her while she warms up and the other cats to at least get a glimpse of her and get familiar. Alot of growling and hissing going on the entire time. I am hoping that they all get used to each to other very soon! Breaks my heart that she's out in the cold all night. I've talked to the local animal shelter, but there is a 3 page waiting list for cats due to the overcrowding. Very sad situation, and I'm afraid to admit that it's like that at the majority Humane Societies.

      A note to everyone who has posted the comments: Thank you so much for all of the great advice, and your amazing love for these homeless beautiful cats. Very much appreciated. And thank you Jean, for starting this hub so everyone can share ideas and not get off topic like most I've seen.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 3 years ago from TX

      Dear Mom of 4,

      Since you have limited space & resources, the best way to keep them warm would be to use straw. Straw is a great insulator & doesn't take up much space. You could get some straw from places like - farms, craft stores (used in Fall displays), friends/family with horses and/or cattle. Even a small amount used in the double house you have for them would greatly help with keeping them warmer during the cold winter nights.

      Hope this helps you and your brood of 4 cats keep warm this winter. Also, I hope your situation improves so you all have a more stable place to spend your lives together.

    • profile image

      mom of 4 3 years ago

      I am leaving out of my car with my four cats ther have a double house/scraching post to stay warm in but on realy cold nights I am worry they will get sick can u help me make my car warmer for them

    • profile image

      Connie, Mi 4 years ago

      I also put this at the corner of the house, where it`s protected on 2 side and also put a blanket over the pads so they can cuddle. Cost about 200 dollars but will last for years. In late spring I take it in the grage for the next year.

    • profile image

      Connie, Mi 4 years ago

      I have 2 stray female cats that I had fixed as soon as possible. I purchased a very large, hard plastic dog carrier, took the door off. Wrapped it in foam rubber outside, taped down. Over that I put a 60 gal. garbage bag to keep out the cold and wind. Purchased a cat warmer pad that when they lay on it , it heats up. I put their food and water in it, water 3 times a day so it wont freeze. I put this house on a large pallet so it`s off the ground and put it on my deck in winter. I think they are very warm and happy during the cold winter up here.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 4 years ago from TX

      L. Gibson,

      Two very good ideas.! Many thanks for posting your comment with great directions on how exactly you kept the stray cat warm. I've no doubt she appreciates all your efforts to keep her warm in winter (and of course, you feeding her helps alot too).

      Kudos to you!

    • profile image

      L. Gibson 4 years ago

      I have a stray outdoor cat and we live in the North East. The poor thing has been so cold, but I cannot bring her in as I have another skitterish cat and I don't feel it is fair to do that to mine.

      I feed her all day long so she is around a lot and it is hard to watch her begging to come in.

      So we came up with two ideas....and both would work well.

      I had an extra covered kittie litter box. Putting it outside, we covered it with a piece of plastic so the vent wouldn't get wet and two heavy blankets. Then I went to Home Depot and bought a cable that warms water pipes in the freezing temps so the pipes don't freeze. (6 Ft. for the small enclosed area.)

      Lining the kittie litter box with heavy silver foil, I ran the cable around the bottom of the box and then put a soft towel on top of it. Please note that it is important to keep the thermostat near the opening because it only works when it detects the cold air. We taped it in place, while keeping it out of a direct line in case it rained. The cable for pipes is an indoor product.

      We therefore cut a small hole to attach an outdoor extension cord through the box to the cable.

      This morning instead of the cat being there for her food at 6 AM, she slept in! LOL!!! When she finally did come out at 8 A.M. for her breakfast, I felt the box inside and it was actually toasty warm. YEA!!!!

      Another thought is to go to a grain and feed store. They have red lamps for brooding. It is a heat lamp and can be directed at a box without burning it...just adding warmth.

      Not sure of what kind of box, so please check that out.

      Hope this helped.....I am so grateful to have a happy cat now. She spent the whole 'freezing' day in her box..

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 4 years ago from TX

      Msds12,

      Good to hear that you check the rugs more than once a day. You can never be too careful. Again, kudos for taking such good care of your cats and dogs.

    • profile image

      Msds12 4 years ago

      I check rugs every time I go in, usually 3 to 5 times a day, I have it where no rain can get to the rugs, and I wash them on a regular basis, I also live in east texas so it never gets too too cold, I read thru all the comments and there ate lots f great suggestions. The heated cat beds are on top of the bath rugs just for extra insulation from the bottom, I keep dry ones on hand when they need to be changed out.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 4 years ago from TX

      Msds12,

      Thanks for doing what you can for your animals & strays that show up & need food and water. Kudos to you.

      You might want to make sure any rugs, blankets, etc. that are in your enclosure during the winter months do NOT get wet. This could lead to some very unwanted & unpleasant results for your animals. It could potentially harm them (they could get sick or injured). You might want to look over some of the excellent comments left on this Hub. There are some great alternatives to blankets/rugs as insulation...for example, straw is a great insulator.

      Again, thanks for taking care of animals during the cold, winter months, and thanks for your comments, they are appreciated.

    • profile image

      Msds12 4 years ago

      So many great suggestions on here. I have 4 cats as well as 2 dogs, all rescues, all spayed & neutered and all very well loved, I would have more but can't afford them. But feed any animal that shows up since I believe all animals need food and love.

      We recently built an outdoor cattery, we keep our 4 cats inside and they all seem to enjoy their new home. I found a 5 foot x 10 foot dog kennel on clearance, had some concrete pavers so put them on the ground inside cage for floor also to protect them from digging out or anything digging in, wrapped the entire cage, sides and top in chicken wire so they would not get their heads stuck in the fencing, covered top and one long side plus half of back with plastic tarp to keep them dry and safe, bought a large 4 shelf plastic shelf, put beds on top 3 and food on the bottom, also put an old cabinet with doors which we cut an opening in the top right side an bottom left side for doors, I put cut up bathroom rugs on each of the 3 shelves which also have holes cut so they can go top to bottom when they want, this gives them a complete private place when there is a storm or loud noise or strangers about. We built a litterbox cover out of old pallets that serve as a litter box cover as well as a perch to lie on it is about 2ft wide by 3 feet long and 3 feet high. Also hung up a cardboard tube on one side that they love to play in as well as sleep in.they also have cedar posts for scratching posts. Had a fan mounted in one corner during the summer which seemed to keep them cool. When the cold weather got here we placed plastic tarps inside from top to bottom on the other 2 open sides as well as the door, we left a 2 x 4 open space for fresh air and light as well as them being able to see outside. I do raise the door flap when it is warm to let them see more. I also bought the pet safe heated pads which they all love and it seems to keep them warm, I feed them wet food every morning, dry food is available at all times, fresh water daily, cleaned litter box daily and lots of affection. We weren't sure the cats would like being in a cage but they seem to love being inside an enclosure safe from the dogs, kids and elements. I know of the dangers of outside kitties and wanted mine to be safe, they ave been in their new home since July 2012 and they are happy, feed, warm & safe. I can now make sure they are taken care of and not hurt or injered. I know this is not an option for everyone but it works great for us.

      Thank you so much to all of the others who try their best to take care of our animal friends, without each of us doing what we can no matter on what scale there would be many unhappy animals. I wish one day everyone would be more kind to them.

      PS my dogs are also treated well and know they are loved.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 4 years ago from TX

      Kate,

      Glad you like this Blog. Here are some ideas that should help you keep Boo warm.

      First of all, you might check out stores like "Family Dollar," "Dollar General" and any other "discount" type of store. They should carry inexpensive tables that are sturdy enough to hold the insulated box you made.

      Secondly, just in case you are handy making things (or know someone who is)...here's a link to some outstanding winter shelters that are great in keeping cats warm, even in very cold temps & snowy winters.

      http://www.treehouseanimals.org/site/DocServer/fer...

      Now, lastly - please be aware, the down fabric you are using will get wet should there be alot of snow. Boo will track snow as he comes & goes from the box. This is NOT what you want to have happen. If Boo has a damp/wet bed to sleep on, this will put him at rick for getting an upper respiratory infection or worse. The best insulating material to use in an outdoor shelter is STRAW.

      Straw is an excellent insulating material, and does not get moldy (like hay does). Just something I thought you should be aware of.

      Hope all this helps.

    • profile image

      Kate 4 years ago

      I have been taking care of feral cats at my home for 5 years now and have successfully adopted 3 of them inside. I have gotten most of the ferals outside neutered and recently adopted another one who was very sick and was not able to save and had to have her put to sleep. I only had her for a month and it broke my heart. I have a large male tom cat who always seems to bring home another girlfriend to keep him company and I am always worried about him in the winter. He has be around for 6 years. This year he seems to want to come in but then gets skittish and goes back outside. In the past he has stayed in the garage but doesn't want to this year. My solution to keeping him warm this year has been a trial but I came up with this solution:

      I bought the cheapest covered litter box I could find with the front flapping door. I then put some old down fabric on the floor (there is not much room, you have to make sure the cat can still get in and out of the door) and covered the the outside of the litter box first with some warm insulating fabric (whatever you choose and your budget allows) and then covered the whole thing with a waterproof tarp. I have it push up against the front of the garage door where there is a bit of a wind break and so far Boo just loves it. He is always in there sleeping, only coming out to lay in the sun or to eat his wet fishy food and Fancy Feast Kibble (better than the inside cats because I feed bad he has to be outside). I hope this helps someone else. You can use any kind of container as long as the cat can get in and out and it is warm.

      My only problem is that with the snow coming, I don't know what to do. I don't have anywere to put this that it will be above the ground. Any suggestions? Thanks for this great blog.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 5 years ago from TX

      SueAnn,

      Great going! You're a wonderful person for caring for those 3 cats and being responsible for their spay/neuter and immunizations. This is SO important, so thanks for stepping up and doing the best thing for all concerned.

      Since the igloo is in the barn & up in the hay loft, you don't have to get an igloo which only just fits the cats. Heat does rise, so that's a positive factor in the keeping cats warm. I'd get an igloo which allows all 3 cats to be comfy inside, with maybe a bit of "wiggle" room, but not too much.

      Barns (as I'm sure you well know) can still get quite cold in the winter. An igloo with just a little bit of room for the cats to move around a bit & re-settle in a different sleeping position is just about the right size.

      Oh, and before I forget, please do NOT put towels or blankets in there. (I know you mentioned learning about this, but want to emphasize the importance of this.) Straw is the best. Cats can then snuggle up and burrow into the straw & keep warmer that way.

      Hope this helps!

    • profile image

      SueAnn 5 years ago

      There are 3 cats that I love at the barn where I board my horse. I have taken over their car, spay/neuter, immunizations. I thought I would purchase them an igloo this winter and I wondered what size I would need for 3 fairly good sized cats. They are fed dry and canned food and they are still the best mousers around, no mice in my barn. I would love to take them home but husband is allergic. I was going to put old towels or blankets in there, but not now, thanks for the info. Igloo is inside the barn up in ay loft

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 5 years ago from TX

      Bridget,

      Great comment on an inexpensive way to keep cats warm during winter. (If you look thru all the comments and the links on this Hub, you'll find more inexpensive ways to do shelters.)

      There certainly is more than one way to get and/or build an inexpensive shelter for your cat(s). Depending on your budget, there are some alternative ways to keep cats warm during the winter months (some ranging from "cheap" to pricey). It's all up to what you want to do, and how much "do it yourself" you want or can do.

      Thanks so much for leaving us your thoughts & the very helpful way to help our cat companions!

    • profile image

      Bridget 5 years ago

      I just wanted to share a really good, CHEAP shelter I learned about from an organization in Michigan that specializes in helping ferals.

      If you go to PetSmart or one of those types of stores, they will give you a Styrofoam container that their fish shipments come in. Go to Lowe's, Home Depot, or some other home improvement store and buy a roll of mylar insulation (around $14). It looks like bubble wrap but it's silver. Cover the inside of the container with the mylar, put some straw on the bottom ($5-$7 at a feed store or nursery) and cut a hole in the container. Both the mylar and straw will cover multiple shelters. The mylar reflects that cat's heat to help keep the shelter warm and the straw allows the cat to "nest". If you have absolutely NO money, at least setting out one of the styrofoam containers will provide protection from moisture and wind. Just remember to weight it down since an empty styrofoam box will easily blow around.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 5 years ago from TX

      LucyDann,

      You're certainly welcome! Glad to hear your cat is doing well & that your close friend has adopted a cat (who is also doing well it seems).

      As I said above, just remember...patience and LOTS of love go a long way with feral and stray cats. Who knows what will transpire over time? After a while, your lovely "wild girl at heart" just might decide that outside is for younger cats and start wanting to come inside more and more. Just keep your options open.

      With all Best Wishes for you & your cat, and for your close friend and her newly adopted cat as well.

    • profile image

      lucydann 5 years ago

      Jean, thanks so much for your reply! My close friend just adopted her own cat (he was indoors for a short while with his first mom, but sadly, she passed away and he got loose in the complex)and we came up with using her outdoor chair cushions in the form of a "teepee" Buddy seems to take to it more every day. He's loving the outdoors at the moment, so this seems to be working out. As for my girl...The best place would probably be in the bushes in front of our units. She is VERY much an outdoor cat and the elements don't seem to faze her. I would love to make her an indoor kitty, but the look in her eyes says "wild girl at heart.."

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 5 years ago from TX

      D. Cox,

      Thanks for adopting a feral cat & putting up a warm shelter for him.

      Feral cats are normally skittish - it's an excellent protective characteristic to have. With ferals and strays, you have to have LOTS of patience and love. After some time, your adopted feral will see that the warm shelter is still there for him, as well as food (and I hope water somewhere close to the shelter, too).

      Once he sees that he has what he needs to better survive, he will use the shelter. Remember, cats are secretive...just 'cause you don't see him use the shelter, doesn't mean he doesn't use the shelter. Luckily for us (and cats), cats like their comfort and will seek to be as comfortable as they can be. I've no doubt this includes using the warm shelter you've provided.

      Oh, and before I forget...you are most certainly welcome. Thanks for reading my Hub.

    • profile image

      D. Cox 5 years ago

      I too have adopted a feral cat. I recently set up an warm outdoor kennel for him but he will not go inside. I"ve put bedding and food in there to lure him. He will eat but quickly leaves. Will he instintively go in and stay in when it gets cold?

      Thank you for this thread!

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 5 years ago from TX

      Good for you LucyDann for adopting a stray/feral kitty & then going the extra mile and having her spayed. Kudos to you!

      You might want to look at the comment I made just above your first comment here on my Hub. It's got two really good links to sites that show how to build shelters that are within most budgets & are reasonably priced.

      Since I don't know all the details of your community & complex, it's a bit hard to tell you how to make a shelter inconspicuous as possible. You might want to make your shelter smaller, but still accessible so your adopted kitty doesn't feel trapped "inside."

      Most ferals & strays do NOT like feeling trapped, so this would be a prime factor to take into consideration, no matter what type of shelter you might want to make or buy for her.

      The only other suggestion I have is perhaps you might want to camouflage the shelter...perhaps doing it by placing some shrubs around it (example: pampas grass or other thick and/or tall shrubs).

      Hope all this helps you. Hope you and your kitty have a long, happy and healthy life together. (Also...here's hoping with patience and lots of love, you can convince her to become an inside only kitty.)

    • profile image

      lucydann 5 years ago

      Hello, Jean. I live down in South Florida and we have many stray and feral kitties in the complex where I live. I adopted one last year, she's since had her first (and only since we got her spayed)litter of kittens who have been successfully adopted as housekitties. She's still very much an outdoor cat and it gets cold down here too during the winter season, albeit not as cold as up north! How can I make as inconspicuous as possible shelter for my girl? The community I live in tolerates the feeding of stray/feral within reason. Thanks for your compassion!

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 5 years ago from TX

      Hi Emily,

      Good for you wanting to help stray cats stay warm this winter! You can get a great overview of how you can help the cats by reading all the great comments in this Hub. There are some inexpensive ways to keep cats warm in winter.

      Bobwired (see comment above) has some good & inexpensive ideas, and the following links are also good resources for keeping cats warm throughout a cold winter night -

      http://www.pacthumanesociety.org/core/WinterShelte...

      This gives great ideas with details on how to build winter shelters inexpensively.

      http://www.neighborhoodcats.org/HOW_TO_FERAL_CAT_W...

      Also very good information on how to build winter shelters for cats, but also has great info on other alternatives for shelters, insulation, and what to do in extreme cold.

      Also, Emily - you mention the cats run when they see you. Whether they're strays or ferals, they are scared of human contact (for whatever reasons). The main thing is to be as patient with them as possible. It's mostly a matter of time. You need to show them by your actions that you are a caring & loving human, that only has their best interests at heart.

      After a passage of time, they should come to trust you more. This subject alone is a huge topic and I could go on for a long time. The bottom line is - love and patience are the major factors in whether or not you gain the cats trust.

      Day by day, with good food, clean water, warm shelter, and being patient and loving, they should see you as someone they can get closer to.

      Thanks for visiting my Hub. Hope this helps you.

    • profile image

      Emily 5 years ago

      I too love cats! There are several stray kittens that run around my apartment unit and winter is finally here. I am worried about the poor things getting cold. I am a college student living off of loans so I cant afford to buy heated beds. What is the cheapest way to keep these kitties warm? Also, they run when they feel like I have came to close to them. How can I gain their trust?

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Allyssa,

      First of all - my most sincere apologies for not replying to you sooner. All I can say is that it's been WAY too busy at work, so I am sorry it took me a long time to respond to you. (you can see above, that I usually reply very quickly to folks).

      Anyway, GOOD FOR YOU for taking care of the cats in your backyard and basement! Spaying & neutering the cats is very important, so you've done a great thing in taking care of it quickly.

      As far as finding a solution - you might want to see if anyone in your family or neighborhood would like to adopt the cats. You might also want to ask your Vet if she/he would allow you to put up a sign in their clinic to see if any of the other people who go to that Vet would like to adopt the cats.

      Also, you might want to ask your Vet if they are aware of any "No Kill" shelters in your immediate area. That way, if there are no people who are willing to adopt the cats, then you can feel better about putting them in a shelter that won't kill the cats.

      Hope this helps you.

    • profile image

      allyssa 6 years ago

      theirs been cats in my backyard and in my basment my mom is allergic to them so my mom cant do laundry and cant wath tv , so i have to do laundry. also my room is in the basement my papillon goes wild and when im asleep they always pick on her and they sleep with me so my puppy cant sleep wit me anymore.i call the vet every month to spay and neuter them and also with my own allowents i buy them food and boels it costs me 100$ in 2 weeks i feed them every day and give them water every day. theirs 1 kitten i have to buy milk witch is 7 bucks could you help me find a soloution, i dont whant to send them to the spca.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Flower Girl,

      Thanks for your kind words. Arizona cats are fortunate to not have extreme cold in the wintertime, but I'm sure it's a challenge to keep them cool in the summer. Just remember, cats DO need daily, fresh water - especially in the summer. This helps them stay cool. Also, that kitty closet will help provide some needed shade.

    • profile image

      Flower girl 6 years ago

      Its like my state has own natural heater. Here in Arizona, its always hot for the current season, OH summer is miserable!!!!!!!! But 57 degrees in the winter! Still, my cats are freeezing on our cold tile floor! Thank you so much for the advice! I'll set up a kitty closet. I suppose there is one good thing about Arizona. My cats automaticly stay warm in the winter!:)

    • profile image

      Shyloh Needs Canary Supplies 6 years ago

      Thank you for sharing this information and I'm sure my cat's will too. I just stocked up on canary supplies in case my heat shuts off again. I have a horrible house for the winter months!

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Sammie,

      First of all, please be aware that most feral (wild) cats are very shy & it's hard sometimes to catch even short glimpses of them, at all. That being said, it's now Springtime, and more than likely, the kittens are completely weaned from the Momma cat.

      Most feral cats keep their kittens for a while after they're weaned. Mainly to teach them some more hunting & other survival skills. However, after this, most "teenagers" leave Momma & go out on their own.

      Cats of any age, don't always fair well outside. The statistics say feral cats only live from 3-5 years, depending on several factors. While I personally dislike to be pessimistic, these are the facts of life outside.

      Here's hoping that all the kittens found good humans to take them inside, neuter them & keep them inside, safe, well taken care of, and loved.

    • profile image

      sammie 6 years ago

      ive had kittens in my backyard in the summer then the weather had changed to winter now its getting warmer and i havent saw the kittens at all ive seen the momma cat but not the kittens im afraid they didnt survive what do u think???

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Misty39,

      While there are horror stories about cats (and other animals) being used as lab experiments, I also know there are people who honestly care about animals. Since I don't know where you are getting your info about "no such thing as a no kill shelter" I can't really respond appropriately. All I can say at this point is I AM aware, personally, of shelters that ARE truly "no kill."

      God bless you for taking in a "lab tested" cat and taking care of her. I've no doubt her last little bit on this physical, Earthly plane was made much better for your care. Also, kudos for taking care of the stray cat in your area. I'd suggest you put straw & NOT hay around the bench, since straw is the better insulator. (you might want to browse around all the comments on this Hub, there are some awesome suggestions for keeping cats warm).

    • Misty39 profile image

      Misty39 6 years ago from Massachusetts USA

      I was told there is no such thing as a No Kill shelter;what they do is;their doors are always open to all or any animals but they are automatically put to sleep because of the over abundance of animals being brought into the shelters daily.If we could all share information nation wide & web wise,we can share the fact that doctors are telling millions of patients they are allergic to their pets,from there they are surrendered to the shelters and further on labs buy all these pets for the severity of lab tests then if they survive they are sent back into shelters to be adopted.I adopted a lab tested cat and she was some suffering sickly sweet little cat.She only lived for six weeks because her kidneys collapsed,all of her teeth were removed.

      I also have a stray cat coming here,it won't come in the house at all so I made an awsome make shift house for him/her I nailed a board on my patio railing for the roof then put hay all around the surrounding park bench I have out there on the patio then in the seat it self I put loads of old towels,blankets then a cats half closed bed, lined with fleese then I put an old sewing machine out next to my park bench then put three tarps coving 80% of the park bench and made sure they were secured down in case of very strong winds,I used a lot of pavers,bolders etc. for securing the tarps,the cat stays in there very comfortably,the only thing he/she needs now is a night light.I always say;where there's a will there's a way. God bless........... :o)

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Bobwired,

      Thanks for leaving a comment & for leaving great ideas for helping to keep cats warm during the wintertime. It certainly gets EXTREMELY cold in the Chicago area (did my Master's degree up in Evanston, so I know from experience); and what you've done is an outstanding & economical solution.

      Your suggestions are fantastic! This will give the readers of this Hub even more ways to help their furry companions warm.

    • profile image

      Bobwired 6 years ago

      I have provided care to many outside stray cats that have found me here in the Chicagoland suburban area during the past several years and I wish to share what I have found to be a good insulating material for lining the insides of outdoor cat shelters, whether they are cardboard boxes or storage containers (my favorite because they're waterproof) or other fabricated shelters. The sporting goods stores sell 2' x 2' exercise puzzle mats that are made of a high density foam, which can be purchased in a 6-piece package (24 total sq. feet). I buy the ones that are 3/4" thick at a local Sports Authority store. They are very easy to cut and shape with a pair of scissors and do not leave any styrofoam-like clinging particles. I lay several down on my backyard deck near my patio door, interlocked end-to-end, year-round and found that the cold of the winter and the sun's heat in the summer does not radiate through them. Snow will brush right off and they do not absorb rain water. I also assembled some of the mats on my (unheated) attached garage floor and I can walk on them in my stocking feet without feeling the winter cold coming through the concrete, and it is -4 F. outside right now. It makes for a more comfortable place for my current feral cat, who found me 10 months ago, to come in from the elements for his daily meal, although after he is done eating he still prefers to return outside and curl up on one of the mats out back.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Purrsy,

      Wow - both of your links are wonderful! Went to both of them and each one has outstanding suggestions. Excellent instructions & good pictures add to the value of both sites. The second website link mentions one of my favorite products - the SnuggleSafe. It's a disc you heat up in the microwave for a few mintues & it stays warm for several hours. I recommend having at least 2 - one in use for the night and then in the morning, you heat the other one up and use the newer, warm one for the daytime.

    • profile image

      Purrsy 6 years ago

      Jean,

      Yes, I did visit your link. Here is another good one that gives you instructions on how to build them along with some great info: http://www.neighborhoodcats.org/HOW_TO_FERAL_CAT_W...

      Another thing I have found that works great on those extremely cold night for those that don't have a lot of money to spend are hand warmers that you can buy at many different stores. I even have baked a potato and placed in the corner of a house with the straw hiding it. My dad used to tell us how he had to walk a long distance to school and how his mom would put baked potatoes in his coat pockets to keep his hands warm.

      I have included this link because it also gives some good ideas for food shelters:

      http://indyferal.org/index.php?page=shelters

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Purrsy,

      Very good point! There are some great resources for cat shelters by Google-ing them. Have you visited the following link? It's got some outstanding ideas.

      http://www.pacthumanesociety.org/core/WinterShelte...

      If you know of any other excellent links, please let me know. Also, I couldn't agree with you more - blankets can draw heat AWAY from a cat's body, especially when wet. Thanks for leaving this reminder for the readers of my Hub.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      David,

      Thanks for leaving some great ideas for keeping cats warm during the winter. I really love the fact you make sure the light bulb is sheltered & protected from accidental shattering from cats shaking off the wet from their fur.

      Also, I appreciate you pointing out that cats need good food sources so they can stay warm during wintertime. It takes extra calories to do this. And, of course - kudos for keeping a heated water bowl for them! Those Canadian winters can be brutal, but you seem to have all the bases covered for keeping our cat companions warm.

    • profile image

      Purrsy 6 years ago

      If you google feral cat shelters there are many affordable ideas for shelters for cats. I have made a few with the 2 inch styrofoam. I also paint and glue a big piece of plywood onto the shelter to give them a "roof". I also have built a couple from the Rubbermaid storage containers, the only difference is I don't use the second storage bin. I find a sturdy cardboard box and glue(using low odor glue) the thinner sheets of stryofoam( I found them at Home Depot) all around the box then stick it into the bigger Rubbermaid container. I always use straw too. Blankets can actually draw a cats body heat away from them especially if it gets wet. You can also make windbreaks with the stryofoam sheets by making them longer on one side. Styrofoam is a good insulator. You can also glue the mylar (found this at Walmart in the camping department for 2 dollars) to the walls and ceiling of the shelters, this will not make noise and will reflect the cats body heat back to the cat.

    • profile image

      David 6 years ago

      You can make a shelter from something like an old wooden cabinet that you can easily find in a dump or curbside. I converted one into a shelter for an outdoor cat and fitted it with an electrical socket so I could install an ordinary incandescent lightbulb. Depending on where you live the wattage will have to compete with the outdoor temperatures. For example here in Montreal in winter it gets really cold like today is -26 celsius and when you factor in the wind chill it's -38. Inside the shelter I have a 100 watt lightbulb to heat it. On average the light will keep the inside heated between +15/+23 celsius depending on the outdoor temperatures. It's important that you cover the bulb with a 3lb coffee can with holes poked in to allow heat to escape or use metal flashing around it like a lampshade (with punctured holes in flashing) to protect the cat from the heat source or from splattering their wet snow/rain coated coats onto the bulb glass which could easily shatter. Inside the shelter I divided it off into 3 sections for sleeping, entering and an area dedicated to just the light bulb to heat the shelter. I should mention that the shelter is located on my balcony that has an outdoor electrical socket that works the light that heats the shelter. I made a rubber coated dormer roof to allow the snow to slide off to cover the cabinet. It also can be lifted off to open the cabinet to change the lightbulb (usually lasts 4 weeks before needing to be changed again). I also added a small entrance hallway structure to the house to divert the wind from the cabinet's main entrance. The cat is healthy, happy and warm. I feed her daily high fat salmon/tuna/cat food mixed with a drop of milk and water. I purchased a heated outdoor water dish to keep water from freezing to ice. It's amazing what you can do to beat the elements and give a kitty a fighting chance. Many cities now provide low cost sterilization if you do an internet search. Many colleges and universities do such procedures as a teaching forum for veterinary students. Check it out.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Madeleine,

      You're welcome!

    • profile image

      Madeleine 6 years ago

      I will talk to my vet. . . Thank you!

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Madeleine,

      You're certainly welcome.

      A few days shouldn't matter, especially if the cats are in good health to start with. (However, please be aware, I'm NOT a Vet, so I can't offer any professional advice here.) I'd recommend that if you've got any concerns with feline health problems, you seek proper medical/vet assistance like asking the Vet you normally go to.

    • profile image

      Madeleine 6 years ago

      Thank you for your reply . . . I was not aware of the difference between straw and hay. I have been rescuing independently for 15 years but did not know about the problem it could create for these kitties. Would a few days have harmed the cats?

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      JC,

      Good for you for taking care of stray cats. Making sure they have fresh food & water daily is very important, especially in the winter time.

      FYI - You might want to look at the following link - it's got some great ideas for keeping cats warm in winter. All the designs are VERY affordable to do, even on a very limited budget!

      http://www.pacthumanesociety.org/core/WinterShelte...

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Madeleine,

      Are you sure it's straw and not hay? If it smells moldy more than likely it's not straw but hay. Please, if it smells moldy, replace it immediately.

      FYI - straw is dried, golden colored, primarily hollow stems of grain mainly used for bedding for the animals, weaving baskets etc. Straw being hollow tends to be fluffy, better absorbing hence makes ideal bedding & great insulation. Hay is used to feed animals & is a mix of grasses, as opposed to Straw (which is grain like wheat or oats).

      Hope this clarifies things.

    • profile image

      jc 6 years ago

      It's beginning to get very cold in Austin, Texas. When I got back from work at 9:30 PM, I fed the stray cats some hearty canned food, dry food and provided them with fresh water. I then simply placed a cardboard box on its side and put a blanket and some towels in it. The two stray cats took to it right away, comfortably snuggling/sleeping. I can see them from my livingroom window!

    • profile image

      Madeleine 6 years ago

      I am feeding two outside cats for which I made a shelter out of a Rubbermaid container I purchased and my son cut an opening for the cats to go inside. This year instead of using cat beds inside the shelter I used straw but I noticed it has a moldy smell . . . Will this hurt the cats?

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Krazykatlady,

      At least the kitties will be out of the direct cold in your garage. Since you have limited funds, you might want to at least look into getting some straw.

      Straw is an excellent insulator & you could also look at the links I provided in the comment above your first comment on this Hub. It's the link with "wintershelter" at the end of the link. This link gives you some great ideas to keep cats warm in winter with very little funds.

    • profile image

      krazykatlady 6 years ago

      Thanks so much for this site. I have a detached garage, and it going to be about 24* tonight. Will it be ok for the 4 homeless cats that I have been feeding to be in there? I can give them some old blankets and plenty of food and water, No heat source as I am afraid of fire but i will leave the light on. Also limited funds so I can't go buy heat pads and such. Will this be okay?

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      LynneRicci,

      Thanks for stopping by & reading my Hub - and thanks for caring about the homeless black male cat.

      Be aware, cats are territorial, so some fighting is to be expected. This is also how cats sort out who's "top" cat. The following is a very good link for introducing cats to each other -

      http://maxshouse.com/introducing_cats.htm

      If you're the handy/crafty type of person, here's a very helpful link to build VERY affordable winter shelter for an outside cat. These will fit into most any budget, especially if you have limited funds.

      http://www.pacthumanesociety.org/core/WinterShelte...

      And the last suggestions I have for you would be to remember that STRAW is an excellent insulator, so you might want to invest in some of that (whatever shelter you provide for him). And also you might want to consider the SnuggleSafe heating pad(s). You heat them up in the microwave & they stay warm for hours.

      Hope all this helps!

    • profile image

      Marilyn1956 6 years ago

      One use only, unfortunately. But it does last up to 72 hours. You'd probably need a couple for even a small box in freezing weather.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Marilyn1956,

      Ooh...nice comment, and it might be good thing for keeping cats warm in winter. The only question I've got is - can you re-heat the pad? If it's only a "one" use pad, then it might get a bit expensive. That's one reason I like the reheatable pads that can be used over & over again. Pay once, use many times.

    • profile image

      Marilyn1956 6 years ago

      Hi Jean,

      I received a package in the mail from a pharmacy that had a heat pad packed along with the prescription medication. The pad was for good for 72 hours and still quite warm. Hm, another source of heat for kitties? About a dollar a pack.

      Marilyn

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Nadia,

      You might want to try adding a thick layer of straw (you might need a bigger box to start off with). Straw is an excellent insulator & will help keep the kitties warmer.

      If they are staying longer - then you might want to invest in a couple of SnuggleSafe. They're kinda like the rice in the socks, but they stay warmer for much longer (many hours at a time). You'd heat one up & place it in the box at night, then in the morning - take the now cold SnuggleSafe out & put in a SnuggleSafe that you just heated up in the microwave. Then do this all again at night.

    • profile image

      Nadia  6 years ago

      Thanks for the tips , we recently discovered three cats , one large & two kittens. My parents wouldn't allow me to take them inside , so I put them in the garage . Except I feel bad because it's FREEZING out there . I took a box and put old towels in it , then I pored rice into old socks and heated it in the microwave . Then placed one In each corner of the box . We are planning on taking them to a shelter . If they have to stay any longer , is there another way I could keep them warm ... That won't make my parents mad?

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Samorita,

      You are most certainly welcome! So happy to help you (& help the cat keep warm this winter).

    • profile image

      samorita 6 years ago

      Thank you so much Jean, your words really help me. I will talk to them like you suggest, hopefully we'll be able to work together.

      Thanks again

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Samorita,

      You have a very kind heart, and that's a wonderful thing. That being said...you did mention that this older cat is owned by someone else. Because of this, I don't think you should take such strong action such as taking the cat into your house.

      I'd suggest you first see if you could talk with the owners. There might be a good reason why they have done what they've done -- for example, they might be older people & have a very limited budget. You never know about another person until you walk for a while in their shoes (i.e. try & find out more about your neighbors by talking with them).

      During your talk, you might want to first mention you've grown fond of the cat...then in a non-threatening way, you might want to suggest you want to help them keep the cat warm in the winter.

      Also, you might want to (depending upon their response to your talk) tell them about other ways they could keep the cat warm in the winter. Example: using straw as an excellent insulator.

      Hope all goes well & together you and your neighbors can keep the cat warm thru the winter (and well loved, too).

    • profile image

      Samorita 6 years ago

      Thanks for all the information given to all of us.

      There is a cat in my neighborhood, he seems to be very old because you can see the skin kind of hanging in his stomach. The ownwers keep him in a igloo type of house in their porch. There is a heated pad inside. Anyway every time I go see him he feels very cold, the igloo has some little holes and I am afraid the cold and wind are coming through there. When he sees me he inmediatetly comes to me for some petting. Right now it is very cold 29 degrees with strong winds of 32mph, it feels like 10 degrees outside. I am having such a hard time with this, I have been even thinking about just go there and get the cat and bringing into my house. I have a small dog and one of my boys is allergic to cats, but I couldn't sleep last night thinking the wind is going to blow away his house and he is going to freeze. He really likes me because it seems I am the only person that touches every once in a while. You can tell he was an indoor cat and they just decided to put him out there. I don't know what to do. Please give me some advice, thank you.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Margaret,

      Thanks for letting us all know what was successful for you in keeping your outside cats warm. Great idea you came up with & SO glad to hear the cats stayed warm & liked what you did for them.

      Also, it's good to know how cold it got, besides hearing about exactly what you did -- that way other readers can see if your set of circumstances applies to them or not (& that way know if what you did would possibly work for them, too).

    • profile image

      Margaret 6 years ago

      I had 1 outside mother cat that had 7 kittens in the fall of '09. What I did for them was to get some plastic storage bins, put basement insulation all around the inside and on the cover then filled it halfway with straw. The cats loved it and there are two cats in each of the 4 bins I made. They got fresh food and drank water from our humidfier drain pipe in the yard which doesn't freeze. The weather last winter was ferocious. It stay below 20 deg and snowed every day but the cats survived in good health.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Bridget,

      Good comment - the Havaheart traps are extremely humane ways of capturing animals, especially feral cats.

      It does take some time to "tame" a feral cat, but you are right, it takes less time if it's a feral kitten. Whatever the age, it's amazing what love, time and patience can do to build a bridge of trust between cat & human.

      Thanks for giving us all your great input.

    • profile image

      Bridget 6 years ago

      FOR MISTERMOTO:

      Try the Havahart live trap (regular size--like for raccoons). I had a litter of kittens living in an abandoned house near me a few years ago. I trapped the whole family and took them to a shelter except for one kitten who wouldn't walk into the cage I had built. I bought a squirrel sized live trap but he escaped every time. Finally I used the big one even though I thought he was too small to set it off and he was caught the same day.

      Once I had him, I let him out in my bathroom and have never seen a more terrified and angry kitty. I did some research on the internet searching "how to tame feral kittens." I started by stick petting him (using a long stick to pet him from a distance, then worked up to petting with gloves on. Within three days he was falling asleep in my husband's arms. If you catch him young, it's pretty easy to tame a baby.

      Personally, I think the money is better spent on a trap and getting one more cat off the cold streets.

      If you're worried about the cold, you could set the trap on some straw and cover it with a heavy blanket in case he gets trapped at a time when you can't get to him right away (like while you're asleep). Then it turns into a sort of shelter/trap.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Melissa,

      You're most certainly welcome! Glad to help. Merry Christmas to you & yours. Hope the New Year brings you all your heart's desires & more.

    • profile image

      melissa 6 years ago

      thanks so much jean thats a good idea! ok..now what exactly is snugglesafe,and where can i buy it and how much is it? actually ill google it now. thanks u again! im open to anything right now. =)merry christmas to u and urs (if u celebrate it that is) =)

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Melissa,

      Kudos for caring so much about the cats health & warmth. I feel for your situation...a long time ago, I too was living in an apartment & was very limited in what I could do for abandoned animals. It's very frustrating, and I feel your pain.

      Unless you can get permission from your landlord, there's only a limited amount you can do legally. My recommendation is to stay WITHIN the law. Right now, unless you & your husband move into your own place, I'd recommend you use some SnuggleSafe products. You heat them up in the microwave & they stay warm for many hours. You could use a couple - put the heated ones under the shed, then in the morning you can exchange the used ones (and now cold) for ones you've heated up, that way they've got heat around the clock, both during the day & during the night. This should help quite a bit, especially since you can't put up a shelter (without the landlord's permission).

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Donna,

      Good for you for caring about what happens to the Black cat & for trying to take care of him & keep him warm this winter!

      Right now, you might want to consider either using a SnuggleSafe (product you warm in the microwave & stays warm many hours). Or you might want to add straw (since it's such a great insulator). Since it sounds like you've got a very limited budget, these are the best solutions I can think of for right now.

      As for getting the two cats to live together & inside (living in peace) - well, it's possible, but it will take LOTS of time & patience on your's and your son's part. Obviously, the inside cat getting out was NOT the optimal way of introducing the two of them.

      You want to slowly re-introduce them & get them used to each other's scent. The inside cat getting outside was "threatening" to Blackey. His (Blackey) territory was invaded. Over time, try putting a sock over your hand and pet your inside cat. Then (same day) go pet Blackey using the sock. This will rub the scent on Blackey. Then reverse the process. Pet Blackey with a different sock on your hand and then pet the inside cat with the sock/Blackey's scent. (one sock for each cat...don't use same sock for both cats). Here's a good link that discusses in detail how to introduce cats to each other - http://maxshouse.com/introducing_cats.htm

      Just remember, in the beginning, the cats will growl & hiss & spit. This is NORMAL. Cats are territorial. As I said earlier, it takes lots of time & patience, but it is possible for them to live together in peace (if not total harmony).

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Tami,

      Yes, many of us have found the SnuggleSafe product to be GREAT. You can usually find it on Amazon.com (for the best price)

    • profile image

      melissa 6 years ago

      hi there! finally a site where i feel i will ghet some informative info and maybe some help. ok...where do i start? so,theres 4 cats in my yard. well 2 main ones that i care for tremendously..ones big n fluffy and gorgeous,and the others orange and baout 7 mo's old. i dont know theyre sex because they never let me too close to them. =( i been feeding them 4 times a day for the past 3 mo's! i do this to make sure theyre getting nice n chubby to keep em warm. i even buy them cat milk for added vitamins!i cry evernight for these cats! i live in an apartment in rockland ny,and my ladlord isnt very nice when it comes to animals. theres NO way for me to make a mini house or shelter,its not my property,and i practically sneak to feed them. they hide under a neighbors shed that has a space under it about less than a foot. someone found out i was putting theyre food there and stuck thorned branches and BIG sticks just so they cant go under! i was hysterical! my hubby moved the sticks and all..however its 4degrees below tonight,and i cant sleep worried sick for them! i just heated up some food and water with a lil milk,(i know milks bad for kittys but i cant help it) and its 3am,i look out my window and see theyre little heads under the shed. ive put my hubbys thermal shirt,a sheet,a towel,and a toilet seat cover (the ones made of carpet) under there and i feel it isnt enough! im willing to bring them in at night to sleep warm (i can get evicted for this btw) but they will not follow no matter what. well they come but refuse to come in the hallway and up the stairs! lol..theyre so scared! i cant do what i want! im willing to buy a lil house for them and whatever else,but i cant! have no where to place it! people are so mean and evil i tell ya! sheesh! well....i wish someone can help! i wanna keep them warm. ill feed them,whatever they need,anything!!! i even told my sister that iwished i could put a coat n boots on them! lol...well... im open to ANY suggestions! help! thank you for all u do. just cause they dont have a voice doesnt mean they dont have a heart n soul! =) thats how i feel! take care....

    • profile image

      Donna 6 years ago

      I have a extremely large black cat I have been feeding for a while now. He is neutered and not afraid of people. It seems like someone just left him. I have two indoor cats and one of them got out when I was in the hospital and got into a fight with the black cat and really hurt him. So I can not let the black one in and now there are times he comes to the back door and I think he wants in. i do not know how to ever have these two get alone or let alone live together. I have not taken him to the vet because he will not let you put him in the carrier. That comes to my second question I live in South Florida and it has become extremely cold lately with freeze warnings. Blackey the black cat lays on this big generator box with alot of matress pads and sheets on top of it. This is also inside my screened in patio. The bottom half of the enclosure is metal and top half is screen and I leave the door cracked for him to come in and out of. I put a large box out there with a lot of blankets and he would not go in it at all. He will only lay on the top of the generator box. So i go out and cover him with the blankets and towels and even a sweater of mine and he will stay under them until he wants to come out. Is that okay? I read about the sleeping bag and will save money to buy one as soon as I can. In the mean time is this okay. I am worried about him. Also, my son says not to even try to like keep him in the bathroom because one we do not know if he is sick and two we really do not think he would stay in there can you let me know if what I am doing is okay and about the cats getting along and possibly living together. My son does not think that is possible after how bad he hurt the inside cat.

    • profile image

      tami 6 years ago

      I have whats called snugglesafe dor my outsie cat heat in microwave last 10 hours or so it keeps him real warm get on internet..

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Gina,

      First of all - THANKS for the great comment about NOT sleeping directly on a heating pad. This will help us all out.

      Next - you are correct. When someone is searching for answers, they usually don't want to take the time to read everything, but want it short, sweet & to the point. I normally do point out to folks (after giving a hopefully short & to the point answer) that IF they want more info, they can then scroll thru the comments on this Hub.

      I also really like your suggestion about the "things not to do compilation" to bring more attention to them. I think it might even need it's own Hub. I'll have to do a bit of research on it, and since I'm in the middle of researching another Hub, guess I've got my work cut out for me (besides my day job, that is...LOL). Anyway, thanks for the great comment & wonderful idea.

    • profile image

      Gina 6 years ago

      THANK you for all you do on this page - I just wanted to give you my perspective on something:

      I think that when someone mentions something that is commonly thought of as safe, but isn't (as in the recommendation to NOT use towels/blankets to line any enclosures because they draw heat away from the body and can freeze when wet), that it doesn't matter how many times it's duplicated. People do not, and will not read every single comment - especially when they're just looking for information - when it comes to safety, the more comments the more chance it will get noticed - and hopefully save a cat's life.

      It would be great also to have a "5 things not to do" compilation to really bring attention to them.

      Gina

    • profile image

      Gina 6 years ago

      Just wanted to leave this comment - someone mentioned buying a heating pad - I would NOT recommend this. Heating pads get EXTREMELY hot and their instructions specifically say "do not sleep on the pad." I would NOT advise to let any pet sit on the mat, much less sleep on it for hours at a time. DO NOT use heating pads for keeping your pets warm as it may cause injury/burns!

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Anne,

      You're certainly welcome.

      Just remember, during the daytime, the cat can soak up the sun's rays, but at night it gets lots colder. As you point out, going down to 14 is COLD. Bringing him inside when it's that cold outside is a good idea. It's ultimately up to you - you'll make the best decision. (Also remember that a cat's normal temp is somewhere above 100 degrees, so they usually do feel warmer to our touch.)

      Good for you for checking out getting him some straw for insulation!

    • profile image

      Anne 6 years ago

      Thanks for the advice. I was considering bringing the cat in tonight. Its suppose to be 14. However, he would have to stay in the cat carrier and wouldn't cooperate. But I noticed that even though he supposedly has been outside all day, he wasn't the least bit chilled. He felt like he had just come out of a warm place and was just slightly cold on the fur. So, I'm not too worried about him. But I will see about getting him some straw. Maybe someone else took pity on him and gave him a warm place to sleep.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Karen,

      You're certainly welcome. Glad this Hub is helping you keep those kitties warm this winter. Great surprise getting that wonderful cat shelter...now they've got the best house in the neighborhood!

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      JeremyEvans,

      Sorry to hear about your Mum insisting the cats be put outside due to their old age & incontinence. This can be a problem for many people - it's mostly a misperception on our (humans) part.

      As cats age, just like we do, there are things that just don't work like they used to. Sometimes there is a medical reason the vet can point to, sometimes not. Bottomline, sometimes a cat, like an older human becomes incontinent and that's just a fact of life. I personally would NOT put a cat that's been inside for it's whole life. That is cruel & unusual punishment for many years of companionship. It's confusing to the cat - the cat has no clue why it's been suddenly punished and put outside. Plus it's not intentional on the cat's part...they do NOT intend on being incontinent. They PREFER to be tidy & go in the litter box, that's the way they're made.

      If they are as close to the end of their lives (and I believe you...you know them best) - then I most definitely would not put them outside. A suggestion would be to get a cat enclosure (cage) that you could keep them inside of. Be sure to have fresh food, water & a small litter box inside & go and spend time with them.

      Another idea - if you have a small room you could "isolate" them in, especially if it was a tile floor instead of carpet - then you could let them loose in this room with fresh food, water & a litter box & be sure to go and spend time with them. That way they'd have room to play & move around, but would be more confined. So if there was an "accident" it could be cleaned up easier and Mum wouldn't have to worry about all of the house getting "messed up."

      Should all this fall on deaf ears & they have to stay outside, you might want to scroll through the comments on this Hub. There is a link (in several places on this Hub) that shows some great ideas and designs for cat shelters that will fit into any budget, even low end budgets. Also, SnuggleSafe is a great product. And straw is an outstanding insulator.

      There are tons of terrific ideas throughout the comments on this Hub, so hopefully you see something that will help. Hope what I've written helps you out.