Winterize for Your Outdoor Cats
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I keep my fur babies indoors, but also take care of a feral colony, and no matter how badly I want them to come inside they just aren’t having it. It is finally getting chilly here in the Austin area and already snowing in other parts of the country. If you have outdoor cats that you just can’t bring in the house on those cold days and even colder nights then it might be time to build them a shelter. There are many different designs, and depending on your skill level you can get really fancy or just do something very basic. My skill level is low and I don’t really have any tools so, I made mine out of plastic bins. You will need one very large bin and one smaller bin. You can use an old styrofoam cooler for the insulation or old egg cartons. They also sell insulation sheets at your local building supply store. You can also use a foam cooler inside the bin but I found these hard to find in the winter. If you have some lying around it will save you some money. These are super easy, though I did struggle a little with cutting the plastic. After I tried heating up a knife and filling my kitchen with toxic plastic smoke I read that if you heat the plastic with a blow dryer it just melts away as you cut it. The smaller bin should fit inside the larger one with enough room for the insulation to go between. Also remember to make two holes for entrance and exit, as they may need to escape quickly in case of predators.
Here is a Tutorial from Dansferals.
I used a heating pad in the bottom of mine. I also recommend the pads that warm up with the cat’s body heat.
Another shelter I have is made from an igloo dog house. I just lined the floor with blankets and a heating pad-no skill needed! This, however, is not suitable for very cold climates. I like to put a little cat nip in the shelter to entice them to go in. Once they realize it’s warm they keep coming back. Most shelters fit two or three cats. Depending on how they get along you may need to make one for each of your outdoor kitties. Large plastic coolers make good shelters as well but you will need a circular blade attachment for a drill to make the hole. Make sure you position the shelters in a protected location, such as near a fence or hedge, or under a covered patio. If you don’t have outdoor outlets for heating pads then straw makes a really good bedding and insulation material.
We love our outdoor feral kitties and want to take care of them. Their comfort is as important to me as my indoor-only kitties. If you have noticed neighborhood cats that seem to be left out in the cold or you take care of outdoor cats, consider building one of these. They may not be able to thank you directly, but you will know that they are safe, cozy, and warm all winter long. Here is a link to different types of shelters from Alley Cat Allies.
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