Winter Weather and Cats

Winter Care and Safety 

for Community Cats – Petfinder Logo, Adopt a homeless pet

Even though feral cats are at home outside, they can always use some extra help in cold or severe weather. Find out what you can do to help them stay safe, warm and healthy during the winter months.

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Car Safety: Before starting your car, give the hood a tap and check between the tires — cats will sometimes crawl into the engine or hide underneath the car for warmth. This is also the time of year for antifreeze, which often tastes irresistible to cats and other animals, but is toxic and deadly. Keep it out of reach and clean up any spills!

Shelter: In the winter, shelter helps keep community cats comfortable. [see Petfinder staffer Sara’s great homemade feral-cat shelters here]. Dog houses can also do the trick with a few modifications.

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How to care for feral cats during the winter

Help needy outdoor cats by providing food, water and shelter.


January 7, 2014, 9:05 a.m.

The Humane Society of the United States estimates that there are tens of millions of feral cats in United States.

Ferals originate from domestic cats that were lost or abandoned and learned to survive outdoors. Most of them are difficult to tame and can’t be successfully adopted into a home.

Outdoor cats often live in colonies, and while they may be resourceful, they need help to survive the winter.

Here’s what you can do to help feral cats in your community.

Provide shelter

A cat takes shelter from the snow.A cat takes shelter from the snow. (Photo: kisluvkis/flickr)Cats have thick coats, but they still need warm, dry places to protect them from harsh weather.Building your own shelter is relatively simple, and there are a variety of plans for inexpensive cat shelters available online:

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When cold weather hits, feral cats suffer—and unfortunately there are just too many feral cats for all of them to find safe, warm forever homes. Spaying, neutering, and cat adoption are critical to solving the problem long term, but many cat lovers take the extra step of buying or building outdoor winter shelters for the feral cats in their neighborhood. Check out these winter shelters for feral cats, and get inspired to make a homeless cat’s life more comfortable and safe this winter.

Easy DIY shelter made from a flowerpot


The folks at Bushwick Street Cats help further their mission to serve the feral cat population by teaching people how to make winter shelters out of a plastic storage bin and a flowerpot. Check out the DIY instructions.



Cold weather can bring with it a number of dangers for our cats. How cold is too cold for cats? Don’t believe the myths! Even in mild winters, we still have to take precautions to help our kitties thrive during the winter months. Do you know what cold weather conditions could affect your cat?

Title Photo Credit: Darrel Birkett via Flickr


Cold weather can be dangerous for cats.How cold is too cold for cats? Keep reading to find out the truth about 5 common myths about cats in cold weather.

Photo Credit: Paul Joseph via Flickr

The Myth: A cat’s coat is enough to keep them warm through any kind of cold weather. They live just fine in the wild, right?

The Truth: While it is true that some cats’ coats are more adapted to cold weather than others (see the Norwegian Forest CatMaine Coon and Siberian), cats are just as susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite as humans are.  Sadly, animal rescues here in Michigan are called on to rescue cats that are found frozen to the ground regularly throughout the winter.


Feral Cat Shelter Options Gallery

Guide/How-to| Alley Cat Allies

Pre-Built | Assembly Required: Easy | Moderate | Advanced

Providing shelter is a great way to keep cats safe from the elements and can help you monitor their ongoing well-being. There are several options available for feral cat shelters. Below are just some of those options.

Learn what makes a good shelter for outdoor cats.

Looking for other ways to keep cats more comfortable outdoors? See our tips for wintersummer, and year-round care.


Shelter Image Shelter Details
K&H Outdoor Heated Kitty House
Purchase the shelter. Advantages: waterproof vinyl backing, easy to assemble, 2 exits, thermostat-controlled, heated floor pad, comfyPossible Drawbacks: Cost, not as sturdy as more permenant shelters, may not provide adequate protection from predators because of the materials used and large door openings. Special thanks to Drs. Fosters and Smith.
Catio Furniture Feral Cat House
Purchase the shelter. Advantages: Weatherproof, drain holes. Possible Drawbacks: Cost, may not accommodate more than one cat.
KatKabin – READ MORE