A cat crawls through the snow.

Why Keeping Outdoor Cats Warm in Winter is So Important

It’s widely known that outdoor cats live shorter lives than inside cats. Cats that live their lives predominately outside are exposed to more dangers and risks because they’re constantly out in the wild where anything can happen. Keeping outdoor cats warm is an important factor of winter cat safety that should be addressed sooner rather than later.

If you keep your cat outside, it’s important to make sure their safety is being taken care of. Keeping outdoor cats warm is a pertinent part of cat safety that’s often overlooked because of more aggressive risks and the assumption that outside cats can fend for themselves. However, an outside cat is still your responsibility, and shouldn’t be forgotten about. Especially when the temperatures outside begin to fall.

Outdoor cat safety becomes even more important in the winter season, because cats face far more hazards due to the inclement weather. Keeping outdoor cats warm is key to helping them continue to live healthy and happy lives in the wild, and it’ll also give you peace of mind.

Don’t wait until the last minute to wonder if you should’ve done something more to keep your cats warm. Taking steps to keep outdoor cats warm will help you ensure that your cats are safe no matter what kind of weather comes your way.

Keeping Outdoor Cats Warm 101

Many of us love cats for their tough, independent nature. Cats know how to take care of themselves, and it makes our job easy, right? Not so much. While cats do have a thick, protective coat of fur to keep them warm, for outdoor cats this will only help them with temperatures above freezing. Once it gets past this point, especially at night, outdoor cats are going to need some help if they want to stay warm.

The biggest part of keeping outdoor cats warm is that you’re doing more than just providing heat. Without protection, cats run the risk of hypothermia, frostbite, and even death. Not to mention all the other problems that can befall cats during the colder months. Their paws can be damaged from salt on the roads, and if they eat the salt, they can get sick. Making sure your outdoor cats have somewhere to go can keep them off the roads and out of the cold so they’re not searching for a warm place to spend the night.

In the winter, many outdoor cats will sleep on cars because they’re seeking warmth. Cars take a while to cool down, and outdoor cats looking for somewhere warm will mistakenly think sleeping near the engine is a good idea, putting themselves at serious risk for injury.

Providing shelters to keep cats warm can help avoid this problem, but unfortunately, not every outdoor cat will be able to find a shelter. Always make sure you take the time to check under your car and knock on the hood. This will help prevent you from having a disastrous morning and potentially injuring a cat.

Keeping Outdoor Cats Warm With Homemade Shelters

The best way to help keep outdoor cats warm in winter is to build or buy them a sufficient shelter that they can use while the weather is chilly. You can find good outdoor cat shelters at local stores, or you can build one yourself. Thankfully, shelters are easy and inexpensive to build if you’re not interested in purchasing one. They can even be a fun family or neighborhood project.

The best shelters are built with wood or plastic because they hold the most heat. You can go to your local hardware store and see if they have any scrap wood you can use, or you can even see if anyone is getting rid of a doghouse to use as shelter as well.

When you’re building your shelter, you should make sure that it’s not too big. Your shelter should give your cat enough room to turn around in, but it shouldn’t be bigger than that, otherwise it won’t be able to hold your cat’s body heat. If you have more than one cat, you can make a slightly larger shelter or just make more than one.

For the inside of your cat shelter, make sure you use materials that will reflect your cat’s body heat. Shredded newspaper, packing peanuts, and straw are all easy for cats to burrow in and are sure to keep them toasty. You can also stuff any of these in an old pillowcase for a quick bed that won’t make a big mess.

Don’t use a blanket, folded newspaper, or towels as warmth for your shelter. While they might seem warm, your cat will just lay on top of them, and they’ll just absorb body heat rather than reflect it so your cat won’t actually be cozy.

You should make sure to take the time to replace the bedding inside your shelters when it’s moist or dirty. This will ensure that your cat continues to stay warm throughout the winter and also doesn’t get sick.

Make sure you put your shelter in a place your outdoor cat will easily be able to find. Placing food next to or inside the shelter will also help draw them in. Keep your food in plastic, insulated bowls to keep it from freezing, and if you put it inside, keep it away from the door so it’ll stay warm. Water, on the other hand, should always stay outside the shelter. If your cat spills it inside, her shelter will basically be ruined because it won’t be able to stay warm, (and no one wants to sleep in soggy bedding anyway). Try to find a solar-powered water bowl to keep the water from freezing.

If you live in an especially cold area or you are unable to check on the shelters regularly, you can line the shelter with Mylar. This material is safe for cats to lay on, and it’s excellent at reflecting body heat, so you’ll be able to keep your outdoor cat warm all winter long.