That means it is starting to get cold outside and our beloved cats who live outdoors might need a little extra help this winter. One way that you can help them stay warm is to prove outdoor cat shelters for winter.
This is the first post in a series of posts I’ll be doing to help you keep your barn cats and other outdoor felines safe and warm this winter!
If you’re unsure what to do with a ‘stray’ or outdoor kitty that found you, please read my How to Save a Cat post for tips!
You can definitely make your own outdoor cat shelters for winter (or any season), of course, and many, many people do that. However, I am kind of a klutz and I am not very crafty. This list is mostly for those of us who either have the money for it or have no time or can’t carve a round hole out of a plastic tote without stitches. (This is me, BTW)
In this post:
- Do you need outdoor cat shelters for winter?
- Petmate Barnhome III
- K&H Outdoor Kitty House
- Petsfit Outdoor Cat House
- The Ark Workshop Outdoor Cat Houses
- ecoFLEX Albany Outdoor Feral Cat House
- Petmate Kitty Kat Condo
- CozyCatFurniture Outdoor Cat Houses
- Feralvilla Outdoor Cat Shelter
- The Kitty Tube!
- Is Price an Issue? Looking to Build Your Own?
- Essentials for Cat Shelters
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This simply means I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase at no extra cost to you. See Affiliate Disclosure for full details. Thanks for supporting the kitties!
Do You Need Outdoor Cat Shelters for Winter?
I’m going to preface this by saying it is an awesome idea for cats to have small shelters anywhere they live because they often do more than just provide warmth in the winter months. They help a cat stay dry in the rain. They also help cats escape predators, too!
So it would be cool to start building a little cat village where they can feel safe with outdoor cat shelters and boxes and tables, feeding stations and watering areas, or anything else you can think of to help the cats thrive happily outside.
Realistically though, not a lot of places will allow this, especially if it is on a property you do not own.
If your area gets below freezing, has snow and ice, then you will want to help them survive with some form of cat shelters. If your area stays above 50 degrees, this might not be vital.
If you have barn cats, you probably don’t need to as the cats love hiding around the barn, in tack rooms, in haylofts, and more. I myself don’t build shelters because of this. They already have one giant building to stay warm in. That said, this year, I’m looking into getting a couple for two cats that don’t really like being around people much and are often scared to come inside.
If your cat colony lives in a trailer court, chances are, they are going underneath the trailers to stay warm. Be sure to leave a gap in the skirting to allow them to come and go freely. Try to keep the insulation away from them. You can also add a few cat shelters under your trailer if you want.
Without further ado! The list!
9. Petmate Barnhome III (Extra Small)
If price is a consideration and you don’t have time, or imagination, to build your own cat shelters, the Barnhome here will work in a pinch. You can purchase a door flap, too. It does say for dogs and feral cats.
My issue with this one is that it isn’t exactly insulated, so use a lot of straw. The doorway is also kind of big, even with a flap a predator could get to your cats if you live in a rural area.
Personally, I don’t recommend flaps because it takes time for a cat to learn to use them sometimes. This is also not going to be as sturdy as a wood shelter. But if price is an object and you’re looking for something for your yard where predators aren’t likely to hang out, it’s a good idea!
8. K&H Outdoor Kitty House (Heated or Unheated)
I’ll be upfront here. If you have your cats in a barn, protected from extreme weather like thunderstorms and predators, this heated house would be pretty awesome. There are a couple of different shapes and colors available. It is insulated and waterproof.
Why I don’t really like it as well as the other houses in this list? It is not very durable as it actually zips together. That means it can easily allow predators to get to your cat. I’m also not convinced it is going to last that long. That said, it has SUPER easy assembly and it is a lot cheaper than some other houses on this list.
7. Petsfit Outdoor Cat House
These are adorable. Kind of pricey, though. I also don’t feel they will last long as they only have a 1-year warranty and some people have complained they don’t hold up well in wet weather. But they are big enough to hold a few cats, they look so cute taking up some space in your yard, and that’s pretty cool!
Another bonus is they have a LOT of cat house styles you can choose from! This one also has an emergency exit door, if you believe you need that type of thing. I personally don’t as most outdoor cats find tight, small hiding spots with only one door to defend and so nothing can sneak up on them.
The reason these aren’t higher on my list is these are pretty lawn furniture for your pets, basically. Yes, they will do well for any cats that visit your home to be fed, definitely. But feral cats aren’t going to hang around playing on these and with the added balconies and stairs, it is useful for cat play. Not that ferals don’t play, they do. With each other. Out of sight of humans. So I’m not convinced these are going to be great for any unsocialized cats.
Plus, if you have an outdoor colony in a rural woody area, these will stick out like a sore thumb.
6. The Ark Workshop Outdoor Cat Houses
I do love these sturdy houses! You have a couple of different options to choose from. I do tend to prefer heavier duty wood or similar building material as it does provide more protection from predators.
The Ark Workshop does a fine job with these! Be prepared to wait for your order though as it does take some time. They do have emergency cat shelter options that can be shipped much faster. These are also kind of pricey.
I wouldn’t recommend their wood shavings though for bedding. I would do straw, personally, it keeps cats warmer and doesn’t soak up the water as much.
5. ecoFlex Albany Outdoor Feral Cat House
It’s a good little sturdy house that won’t look like an eyesore in your yard, which is a huge bonus. It’s also supposedly weather-proof, bug-proof and rot-proof!
My issue with this one is the doors look kind of large, which means that a lot of warmth will be lost in this house. It is also not insulated. This house might not be great for people in the northern climates where windchill gets to 40 below. In southern climates where it gets to barely freezing, maybe adding a bit of straw would help. I’m also not a fan of flaps.
Also, the two-door build is used because people believe a cat is safer being able to escape a predator. Now, with doors this large, then yes, they need an escape door as it looks large enough for predators to at least push their head through.
So if predators aren’t an issue and the sight of a homemade cat shelter bothers you in your yard, this might be a great shelter.
4. Petmate Kitty Kat Condo Outdoor Cat House
If predators are not a concern, then this one would be a nice-looking cat igloo on your porch. You can also buy the door or make your own to help keep it warmer inside. Ignore the carpet and load the thing with straw and you’d have a fine little house for a couple of cats in your yard that doesn’t look horrible.
Be sure to put the opening somewhere wind won’t blow in.
The reason I like this one more than some others is it will likely handle the weather better than some of them if it gets wet or snowed on. I would not recommend this one for rural areas with coyotes.
3. CozyCatFurniture Outdoor Cat Houses
I love how sturdy this one is. You can apparently also order a backdoor or a flap if you feel the need! There are also various sizes of CozyCatFurniture houses available, which you can check out their other cat furniture and houses here. They apparently even take a special order for adding a heating pad cord hole or other stuff that you might find necessary. If they can do it, anyway.
These are made of cedar in the USA, too! Very durable.
My only issue is these are very, very expensive cat houses. But they can help keep your outdoor cats cool in the summer or warm in the winter, they are sturdy and come with or without a backdoor. Plus, they would look great in your yard, if you can afford them.
They also wouldn’t look bad in more rural settings or less populated areas. You can decorate it to hide it from sight unlike a lot of the other ones that are made to look pretty in your yard. This way, both a bonus for your yard OR out in the woody areas.
2. Feralvilla Outdoor Cat Shelter II
These are some excellent, sturdy feral cat houses! Having spent some time with feral and outdoor cats of different flavors, I actually really love this design as it will encourage even the more timid or feral cats to try it out. With the doorway so close to the bottom and small, it presents a safe hiding spot to a cat!
The design is definitely not an eye-sore for a yard or the woods, either. This small company seems to only build feral cat houses and feeding stations! I love that idea.
1. The Kitty Tube
Hands down the best cat shelter design I have ever come across! Firstly, it’s completely insulated. It is also environmentally friendly as it is made from recycled materials. It’s also made in the USA!
Its round design helps with the wind, it is very insulated to help kitty stay warm, and the door is small enough to protect your cats from coyotes, large raccoons, and any other larger predator. It can fit 3 cats if they really like each other, but more likely two comfortably.
The Kitty Tube also comes with a lifetime warranty for the outside casing of the tube.
Another bonus is you can buy accessories for the Kitty Tube! Want a low-voltage heating pad? Looking to add more straw? Looking for a pillow instead? Do you want the doorway awning? Needing additional insulation?
I do agree with the one entrance idea for outdoor cat shelters in winter. If the shelter is sturdy enough, and the opening small enough, a predator can’t get inside of it. A cat is safer inside the shelter from a coyote than running outside from a back door.
If you’re interested in leaving shelters in undeveloped areas, the black color wouldn’t stand out like a bright white or red cat house would.
The only downside is the price. I do believe they are worth every penny, definitely. But if you live paycheck to paycheck and more money than is wise is already going to caring for your outdoor colony, this one is going to pinch. But seriously, save up. I am!
Is Price an Issue? Looking to Build Your Own?
Alley Cat Allies has a few DIY Outdoor Cat Shelter designs available, as well as other choices for purchasing cat houses. Another excellent site for DIY Cat Shelters is at Neighborhood Cats which is based in New York City, where it can definitely get cold as hell.
If you’re interested in the best EASY DIY Outdoor Cat Shelter, I choose the Rubbermaid tote and lining it with styrofoam, or a styrofoam cooler inside. You can line it with Mylar blankets (which are not soggy blankets, but great insulators!) in really cold weather!
You can find very awesome instructions for this here.
If you’re really good, you can build your own wooden shelter too! Those are better hands down but take some skill.
Essentials for Cat Shelters
What else do you need for your outdoor kitties?
Remember to keep the shelters away from the feeding stations! Food attracts predators and other wildlife if not careful and cats prefer to sleep away from their feeding area.
Tell me, y’all! What are your choices for the best outdoor cat shelters for winter? Or show me your DIY cat shelters! I would love to see them!