Do you often feed the local stray and feral cats and you’ve become concerned that they’re left out alone in harsh weather conditions? Feral cats often hide in dark, warm places in cold weather conditions, but in freezing temperatures, they may not survive without your help. The best outdoor cat house can keep a cat warm, safe, and secure. These shelters will keep a cat warm in rainy and cold weather, can protect them from predators, and can even help them stay cool in the summer.
If you’ve decided to purchase a shelter for your local strays but you don’t know what type of house to buy, where to put it, and what features to look for, then you can take advantage of this buyer’s guide that I’ve created, which includes all the information you’ll need to purchase a great house for your local ferals. I’ve also tested out several of the top-selling houses and have chosen six of the best models currently on the market, each of which scored well in several areas. Below, you’ll find a comparison chart that lists each of the models that made it onto my list, how they rated, and what features each house has to offer.
Outdoor Cat House Comparison Chart
EcoFLEX Albany Outdoor Feral Cat House
This outdoor house is designed with durability in mind, featuring a construction that’s insect-resistant, will not rot, crack, splinter, warp or fade, and includes a couple of exits, which will make the cat feel safe and secure. This model is also weatherproof, so it’s perfect for use in colder climates.
The inclusion of two exits will help cats with anxiety to feel more relaxed since they will not feel trapped. Instead, they will be able to safely and secretly exit the house if they are pursued by a predator or spooked by you checking on them.
- Two exits
- Not heated
This model can easily be assembled within fifteen minutes and is low maintenance. The durable construction, two exits, and rot-proof design makes this model perfect for a variety of climates, although, this house is not heated so it may not be a good choice for freezing temperatures.
Petsfit Weatherproof Outdoor Cat Shelter
This is a weatherproof cat house that comes equipped with a plastic flap on the back entrance, which is designed to minimize wind exposure, while helping to retain heat. The floor in the house is removable, so you can take it out and hose it down. Unfortunately, the roof is not removable, so cleaning can be difficult. The house is made out of cedar and is designed to handle windy conditions and rain. The house is also highly portable and easy to assemble.
This attractive house comes with a nice little porch, which will make it easier for cats to get in and out, in addition to a small cat box on the side of the house that cats can use during sunny days to enjoy the weather and relax.
- Made out of cedar
- Side cat box
- Two exits
- Removable floor
- No insulation
- Roof is not removable
This is one eye-catching cat house. The inability to remove the roof can make it more difficult to clean the house out, although the removable floor tray does make it easier to clean up small messes or change out the bedding. The two exits are a huge plus since they will make cats that use the house feel more secure. Overall, the house is well-built, but it’s not recommended for colder weather since it lacks insulation.
K&H PET PRODUCTS Outdoor Heated Kitty House
This heated outdoor house is perfect for both feral and outdoor cats. It’s designed to keep cats of all sizes comfortable and warm. The house itself is winterproof and very easy to assemble. This model comes with a twenty-watt plush heated pet bed. Thanks to the house’s insulation and the bed, combined with the cat’s body heat, the cat will remain nice and warm, even in freezing conditions. The house also comes with two exits, which will give the cat some peace of mind knowing they will not be trapped in the house if they’re pursued by predators. This model is covered by a one-year limited warranty.
- Heated pet bed
- House is insulated
- Two exits
- One-year warranty
- Bed does not have adjustable settings
This house is perfect for cat owners who have outdoor cats, or those who take care of ferals and live in a part of the country that experiences harsh winter conditions. The insulated design and heated pet bed will work to keep a cat nice and warm, while the plush pet bed is very supportive and will keep a cat happy, comfortable, and safe during their stay.
K&H Pet Products Outdoor Multi-Kitty A-Frame
This heated house will keep a cat nice and warm in freezing temperatures. The included pet bed comes in at forty watts and features a plush cover designed to keep cats comfortable. The house includes two exits, both of which are equipped with plastic flaps that will minimize how much wind and rain is able to enter the house. This is an A-frame style house that’s very eye-catching and comes covered by a one-year limited warranty.
- Two exits
- Heated pet bed
- Weatherproof construction
- Bed does not have heat adjustable controls
This model is built tough, designed to keep pets out of the rain and nice and warm, even in freezing temperatures, and comes with a removable floor panel that allows you to easily clean out the house when it’s vacant. This is a great buy if you live in a part of the country that experiences freezing temperatures, snow, sleet, and heavy rainfall during the winter months.
Trixie Pet Products 2-Story Cat Cottage
This durable wooden outdoor house is weatherproof and lightweight. It comes with a front door that will fold down, working as a ramp. The floor is raised to promote air circulation and prevent mold. The house is made out of nontoxic, weather treated pine, for durability. The floor of the house is removable, which allows for easy cleanup. Additionally, the roof is also removable making it easier to clean out the interior of the house or remove an injured animal or nursing mother and kittens. Unfortunately, the house is not insulated, so it’s not recommended for use in freezing temperatures. The house also only includes one exit, which can make cats feel insecure and trapped, making it impossible for them to escape if they’re hiding from a predator.
- Removable roof and floor
- Raised floor
- Only features a single exit
- Not insulated
While this house can’t be used in harsh winter conditions, for those who live in a part of the country with mild winters, or for spring and summer use, this model can provide ferals and strays with a comfortable place to rest and relax. The low maintenance design is a huge plus for any buyer, while the house’s beautiful design and paint job is sure to complement any yard.
Kitty City Large Cat Bed, Stackable Cat Cube
This is an affordable, discreet outdoor house that can be placed in dense brush, barns, porches, a garage, or under a porch. The house is made out of durable fabric that’s water-resistant. The house also has two exits, which will allow a cat to escape to safety if they’re trapped inside the house or become startled by the family dog. The house itself is easy to assemble and comes with step by step instructions that will quickly guide you through the process. The exit panels that cover each door will block wind and rain and are removable. The walls are insulated so the house will retain the cat’s body heat, helping to keep them warm in colder temperatures.
- Includes two exits
- Made out of waterproof fabric
- Easy to assemble
- Difficult to clean
This insulated house is durable, lightweight, and features the type of discreet design that allows you to easily camouflage it on your property to keep your ferals hidden and safe from predators, making them feel more secure and encouraging them to seek shelter in inclement weather. The house doesn’t come with a removable floor tray or roof, so cleaning out the house can be difficult and time-consuming. Aside from its maintenance needs, the house scored well in a variety of areas including insulating power, durability, and innovative design.
Outdoor Cat House Buyer’s Guide
A shelter for an outdoor cat will be essential to keeping them safe and warm. Many cat lovers and feral rescues place their shelters in their garages, backyards, and under porches, or other types of places on their property that strays and ferals tend to hide and seek shelter.
If you’ve decided to purchase one of these houses for your local strays, there are some key factors that you’ll want to consider before you buy.
But first, let’s go over the many benefits this type of shelter can provide.
Benefits of Outdoor Cat Houses
These outdoor houses possess unique features that are designed to meet the needs of strays and ferals, but you first must identify a particular cat’s needs before you start shopping. Be sure to choose one that comes with all the features a cat will need to stay protected, such as multiple exits, insulation, and a waterproof design.
- These shelters can also provide the perfect space for a nursing mother to protect and feed her kittens. When a cat gives birth, she will need a small personal space to care for her kittens. If the cat is feral, it can be difficult to provide her with the care and nutrition she needs. Using one of these houses will allow you to keep a close eye on her and her kittens, while maintaining the proper distance she will need to feel safe.
- Using an outdoor cat house will give stray and feral cats a safe place to hide from predators
- Some heated or well-insulated models can keep a cat alive in freezing temperatures
- Waterproof shelters will keep a cat dry and warm during rainy weather
- Insulated shelters can keep a cat cool and prevent them from overheating during the summer months
Do I Need an Outdoor Cat House?
- Feral cats are very different from strays in that they are born in the wild, they have never had an owner and they will not allow a human to pet them, pick them up, or touch them at all. Stray cats have had an owner at one point, so they are more trusting. It’s possible to tame a stray, pet it, touch it, and earn its trust. Ferals are difficult to care for in that if one appears sick or injured, you would need to trap it in order to probide medical attention. But just like housecats and strays, ferals need care and protection in order to survive. Cat lovers and even those homeowners with a soft spot for ferals, can purchase a cat house and provide care from afar.
- Strays and ferals can carry germs, parasites, and disease, which is why many people do not want to have direct contact with them.
- Purchasing an outdoor cat house ensures the ferals and strays stay away from your pets and kids and do not bring parasites or disease into your child’s or pet’s playing areas.
- If you have a younger feral hanging around your property, you can potentially tame them, if they are twelve weeks old or under. Any older than three months and a feral will be impossible to socialize. But by purchasing an outdoor house you can try to socialize a younger feral and allow them to get used to your presence. In time, the cat may become comfortable enough to let you pet it, but in the meantime, you can provide shelter and food and ensure it stays safe, even in inclement weather.
- Another reason to have one of these houses in your yard is the many homeless pregnant cats that give birth just about anywhere. These outdoor shelters will provide these cats with a safe space. If you’re having trouble with many unaltered female cats in your neighborhood, then it’s just a matter of time before you find some feral kittens in your yard.
- Some people prefer to allow their cats to roam outdoors as well as indoors. If that’s the case, you won’t have to worry about your cat being stuck outdoors in inclement weather, and you can also give your pet a space away from home where they can finally find some peace and quiet, away from the kids and the family dog.
Now that you know more about the benefits of these houses, their purpose, and how putting one in your yard can be a major help to local ferals and strays, I’ll go over the many important features to search for that will indicate the house you purchase can keep a cat safe, warm, and protected from predators and the elements.
Other Important Features
These shelters are essential for people who own an outdoor cat or those who provide care to strays and ferals. These shelters will provide cats with the benefits of enrichment and stimulation that outdoor life has to offer, yet still helps to keep the cats healthy, safe, and protected from other animals and the elements. Ferals and strays will both benefit from an outdoor shelter and will encourage them to stay on your property, away from dangerous roads and backyards with large dogs. This will make it easier for you to keep a close eye on them to determine if they need vet attention, a feral has become pregnant, or if one of your strays is eating enough.
There are many types and styles of cat houses to choose from. I recommend carefully choosing a house based on weather and climate. As an example, if you have mild winters, but intense heat in the summer, then look for a model that features excellent insulation, so a cat can stay cool and out of the heat. If you have harsh freezing temperatures and snow during the winter, then a heated house is the way to go. Now, let’s take a look at the key factors you’ll want to consider before you purchase a new outdoor house for your local feline friends.
The biggest factor to consider is how safe the house is. If the house can keep a cat safe and secure and features more than one exit, then this is the perfect model. If you have dogs on your property, or the neighbor does, using one of these houses can be the perfect way to protect the feral cats that come around by giving them a safe base to run to. If the house has two exits, then the cat will be able to sneak out of the house as the dog focuses on the main entrance.
Ease of Assembly
Some houses will be easier to put together than others. Many models will come fully assembled, but you will come across some models that can be difficult to put together. If you’re not very handy with a screwdriver then search for a model that scored high for it’s beginner friendly design and low assembly requirements.
If you live in a cold climate, then a model that’s heated can prevent hypothermia and frostbite. These houses come preinstalled with heaters and will maintain moderately warm temperatures. Make sure you double check the specs and learn about a heated house’s power requirements, and how safe each model really is.
Insulation can be used to keep a cat warm or cool. Models that are fitted with insulation will have the ability to maintain a stable temperature all year long and can make a cat nice and comfortable.
Smaller felines are often more vulnerable outdoors, whether they need to hide from dogs, larger cats, or wildlife. A house that comes with more than one exit will allow a cat to get away and escape the house if they feel threatened.
The size of the house will also be important, since it should be large enough to accommodate the cat but not so large that a dog can enter. Obviously, a larger cat will require a larger space, but for the most part, smaller compact houses tend to make a cat feel safer and more secure.
Additionally, a smaller house will often provide better insulation. However, if you’re purchasing a cat house for a family of cats, a pregnant feline, or a few of your own cats, then you’ll want to purchase a model that’s designed to handle two or more cats. Manufacturers will clearly list how many cats a house can accommodate, based on the average size of a cat.
Choose the material of the house based on where you intend to set it up. If you’ll be locating the house in an open backyard, then choose a model that’s made out of plastic or wood. If the house will be placed under or on a porch, then a waterproof material may not be as important.
If you’re looking for a durable house to protect your feral cats, then make sure it’s made out of waterproof materials. Additionally, a house that features a raised platform will also be a good idea since it will prevent the house from flooding during the rainy season.
A cat house will need to be cleaned out at least once a month, unless a nursing mother is using it, in which case you will need to wait until both mom and the kittens have vacated the home. To make your life a little easier, make sure you choose a model that’s easy to clean. Buy a house that comes with washable cushions and an interior that’s easy to wipe down. Some models will also come equipped with removable roofs and trays, both of which can make cleaning out a shelter a cinch.
Where to Place an Outdoor Cat House
Once you’ve purchased the house, you’re probably wondering exactly where to put it and how you can encourage a stray or feral to use it, so that they know this is a space that’s safe for them to enter.
- The house should be situated with the front of it facing away from snow, rain, and wind. It should also be placed in a discreet location so the cats will stay safe and the house will not be visible to any neighbors who may not be thrilled with the idea that you are keeping your cat outdoors or providing a home for strays or ferals.
- If possible, avoid placing the house directly on the ground since it will make it an easier target for other wildlife and will also make it much colder. The house should be elevated five or six inches using bricks, or old wood pallets. The house should also be camouflaged. You do not want to draw attention to the structure. Fortunately, many manufacturers know this, which is why they often produce houses that are painted in earth tones. To make the structure somewhat hidden from view, you can also add some branches, leaves, and other types of material.
- If the inside of the house does not have any cushions, then you can lay down a thick layer of straw. Never use hay in any type of outdoor pet shelter. When it gets wet, hay holds onto the moisture and will quickly become moldy. Straw is able to resist the elements and can provide a comfortable and cozy bed for cats. If the house is larger and there’s a spot that will remain dry, even with high winds, then you can place a wool or fleece blanket on top of the hay to provide additional warmth.
- Make sure that the opening of the house is not bigger than eight inches wide. This will make it difficult for predators to enter.
So, how can you attract cats to their outdoor house?
- Placing the house in a discreet location
- Camouflaging it by placing leaves, sticks, and branches around and on the exterior
- Facing it away from wind, rain, and snow
- Placing straw on the floor to keep the cats nice and warm
- Adding a fleece blanket if there is room
- Ensuring that the opening is too small for predators to enter
Frequently Asked Questions
How Can I Keep an Outside Cat Warm?
Be sure you read the specs concerning the material that the house is made out of and ensure the house is insulated. You should also purchase a house that’s just large enough for the cat, without too much extra space. A small, insulated cat house will stay warm by trapping the cat’s body heat inside. If you live in a part of the country that experiences harsh winter conditions, you can also purchase a heated cat house or use a weatherproof heating pad or heated cat bed.
Will a Feral Cat Use a Shelter?
A feral cat will use a shelter if it’s placed in a safe, quiet location. The shelter should be placed in a quiet spot in your yard, out of reach of dogs and out of view of domesticated cats that you may have inside the house. Often, feral cats spend several hours and even days in search of a safe quiet place they can hide and remain protected from the elements and predators. Ferals may become curious about a shelter in your yard if you have food set up and the shelter located in a safe area. If the cat smells dogs or other cats in your yard, he or she may avoid using it.
The best outdoor cat house will one with all the right features to keep a cat warm or cool, and dry and safe. The type of cat house you choose should be based on many factors, such as size needs, climate, weather, and environment. This guide and the products I’ve recommended can help you to narrow down your choices and choose the perfect model that will meet the needs of your strays and ferals, providing top of the line protection against predators and the elements.