How to Keep a Stray Cat Warm Outside in the Winter

Anyone who lives in an area with stray cats will wonder what they can do to keep these sweet creatures warm outside during the winter.

While cats are resourceful, constant exposure to low temperatures can be very unhealthy.

It can put even the healthiest and strongest cat at risk of illness and even death.

Understanding how to keep stray cats warm when it’s cold outside will allow animal lovers to take care of these furry friends without scaring them by trying to bring them into the house.

Here are a few ways to keep a stray cat warm:

  • Convert an old doghouse
  • Add straw to a plastic tote
  • Reuse a styrofoam cooler
  • Plug in a heating pad
  • Keep the cat off the ground
  • Consider which bedding you use

Convert an Old Doghouse

Old doghouses are easy to find, making this an inexpensive and easy option for anyone who wants to take care of stray cats in their area.
Doghouses already have plenty of insulation in them, so most of the work is already done.

The key to using an old doghouse is to put up a board in the doorway, then cut a small hole in the board big enough for the cat.

Leaving the door completely open could put a cat at risk if they do decide to sleep there in the winter.

It will also deter them from even trying.

Adding straw to the inside of the doghouse can provide a nice place for the cat to sleep and is easy to clean out and replace.

Add Straw to a Plastic Tote

Most people have a plastic tote around their home that they are no longer using.

These are the perfect option for a stray cat to sleep in, but it may need modifying.

The first step is to cut a hole in the side or end of the tote but to make sure that it is small enough to keep out any predators.

Next, fill the tote with straw.

Unlike other options that are more insulated, it’s important to add straw to completely fill the tote.

A stray cat will be able to push their way inside, and having more straw in the tote will help to keep out the cold air.

Finally, make sure that the lid is on tight and secure so that it can’t be pulled off.

Reuse a Styrofoam Cooler

Styrofoam coolers are everywhere, but they’re not easy to dispose of since the material can’t be recycled.

Rather than throwing them in the trash, you can use them to make a great outdoor winter shelter for a feral cat.

They already have plenty of insulation built-in, which helps to keep cats warm without much effort.

Cutting a hole in the side of the cooler and adding a base of straw allows access and makes the shelter much more inviting.

Unlike the plastic tote, which needed to be filled with straw to keep cats warm, the cooler already has a lot of insulation.

Adding a layer of straw to the bottom gives cats a warm and comfortable place to sleep.

Plug in a Heating Pad

Even with proper shelter, it can be too cold for strays in some bad storms.

So it’s a good idea to go one step further to protect these cats.

Placing the winter shelter near an outdoor outlet will allow a homeowner to power a heating pad for the cat.

The thing to consider when using a heating pad in an outdoor stray cat shelter is that it needs to be one that will turn off after a set period of time.

This will ensure that the shelter is nice and warm, which will help the cat stay cozy during the night or the storm.

Since the heating pad will shut off, it prevents homeowners from having to worry about whether the heating pad is still on.

Keep Everything Off the Ground

One thing to remember when setting up outdoor winter shelter for a stray cat is that it must be above the ground.

The easiest way to do this is to set the shelter up on a wooden pallet.

Placing it on bricks or pavers can also keep it off the ground.

The reason why this is so important is that the ground can be cold and damp, making stray cats uncomfortable in the shelter.

Face the shelter so that the hole is facing a wall and not into the wind to ensure that any cats using the shelter will be as warm as possible.

Consider the Bedding

The bedding is one of the most important things to consider when setting up an outdoor shelter for a feral cat.

It can make a huge difference to whether cats will actually enter and use the shelter.

Many people assume that using blankets or a pet pillow is a good idea, but these are not the best options.

Hay is actually a great choice for bedding.

It is inexpensive, which is great for setting up more than one shelter.

It does a great job of keeping cats warm during cold nights and is replaceable.

Soiled blankets and pillows are much more difficult to clean or dispose of than old straw.

You can also compost the straw too.

Keeping stray cats warm when the temperature is near freezing can seem daunting at first.

It’s easy to do with the right items.

Once you’ve blocked the rain, snow, and cold air from getting to the cat, as well as how to provide warmth during the night, cat lovers can ensure that their favorite stray is warm all winter long.

If a cat isn’t using the shelter, but there are strays in the area, then adding a bit of catnip inside the shelter can help to entice them and make them feel much more comfortable about entering.

Once you’ve enticed the cat to the shelter do not use catnip again otherwise it may attract unwanted cats or predators.