Outdoor cat is sleeping in the cold

Antonio65

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I have two outdoor cats, boy and girl, both fixed. They have their dishes and a cat house where they sleep in when the weather is bad. The whole setup is in a sheltered part of the yard, it's exposed to southeast, it doesn't rain on it.

Cat House.jpg


The cat house is a two-storey wooden structure. The upper floor was an open space, I closed it with insulating panels and now it's a closed and warm room. Both cats sleep "upstairs".
In the photo, the entrance to the upper floor is on the other side, the hidden one.

In the last few months a third cat joined the crew, she's mother to the boy. She's lovely and shy.
The thing that concerns me is that she always sleeps on the cat house roof, even if the ground floor room is available.
In these days the temperatures at night are between 25 and 28°F, and she's still sleeping outside.

I tried to push her in, but she fights and then runs away.
How could I convince her to sleep inside? I wouldn't like to have her sick when winter gets worse.
How cold can a cat stand?
 

shadowsrescue

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Many cats will not enter a shelter that doesn't have an entrance and exit as it makes them feel trapped. When I first introduced the heated cat houses I used, I had to have 2 holes. Of course that made it so it was not nearly as warm. But after a few months, I was able to patch the hole back up. Just be sure to save the piece you cut out.

Catnip is another way I have lured cats into a shelter. I tend to stay away from adding food to the shelters as it attracted other unwanted critters.

Another option is to have a separate space for this new cat. She may not feel comfortable being so close to the others. I used to have multiple areas on my deck where the cats could sleep.
 
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Antonio65

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Many cats will not enter a shelter that doesn't have an entrance and exit as it makes them feel trapped. When I first introduced the heated cat houses I used, I had to have 2 holes.
Yes, I thought of this.
I forgot to say that this cat comes from a neighbor's yard, where she lived for years and she had a small cat house with just one entrance. And she used it regularly.
Then, for some reason, she moved to my courtyard, about 30 meters/yards away, this last May or June.
She should be used to confined spaces.

Catnip is another way I have lured cats into a shelter. I tend to stay away from adding food to the shelters as it attracted other unwanted critters.
I tried to put her dish in the lower room, but she would just eat and them run out of it.

Another option is to have a separate space for this new cat. She may not feel comfortable being so close to the others. I used to have multiple areas on my deck where the cats could sleep.
I thought of that too, but it would take me some time to create a new space with a proper insulation, and winter is here already. She is confident with the other two cats, one of them is her son and they get along very well.
I feel so sorry for her. When I go feed them in the morning, the two cats come out from the upper room and they are warm, she has been sleeping on the roof all night and her coat is as cold as the rest of things outside :frown:
 
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Antonio65

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Could you just make her a simple rubbermaid box? I used to make them and just insulate with Reflectix Reflectix 16 in. x 25 ft. Double Reflective Insulation Roll with Staple Tab Edge-ST16025 - The Home Depot

I then was able to add either an electric outdoor heat pad or one of the self warming mats or one of the microwave discs.
Before doing such an elaborate thing, I would like to try with a simple cardboard box. A box is better than nothing, and if she likes the box, I could replace it with something more robust.
My doubt is why is she refusing to stay in an confined space? Why isn't she thinking to find a shelter?
What low temperature can a cat survive?
 

shadowsrescue

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Some cats do not like to sleep near other cats. So it might just be her comfort level. How cold is it where you are right now? Before I had warm shelters for my cats they did just fine with temps below 30. I truly believe if she was suffering she would find a warmer place.

Trying a simple cardboard box is a great idea.
 

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I have always been told that 45 F is okay but at 35 F or so there can be danger of hypothermia. Out here it does not get as cold as other parts of the world, but we do hit lower than 45 F during the winter nights and have gone down to as low as the 30s. I have never lost a cat or had one suffer any consequences. I don't know where some of them go. My garage is open from a side door and there is a large heated bed inside and I have various plastic containers around the property. I know that one of them is used from time to time. The garage is not used at all sometimes which always confuses me but I have never figured out what is really going on. For the most part my cat beds are not used. Your cat condo is absolutely gorgeous and they are very lucky.
 
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Antonio65

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Some cats do not like to sleep near other cats. So it might just be her comfort level. How cold is it where you are right now? Before I had warm shelters for my cats they did just fine with temps below 30. I truly believe if she was suffering she would find a warmer place.
Well, in summertime she would sleep along with his son on the roof, day and night, and she was very comfortable with it.

On the past few mornings the low temperatures were between 25°F and 28°F, there was frost everywhere around.
This morning it was 34°F.
Our winter low temperatures can be as low as 20°F, on rare occasions down to 14°F.

I'm sure that she would find a warmer place if she was suffering at night, but I don't think she's fine right now either.
 
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Antonio65

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I have always been told that 45 F is okay but at 35 F or so there can be danger of hypothermia. Out here it does not get as cold as other parts of the world, but we do hit lower than 45 F during the winter nights and have gone down to as low as the 30s.
Yes, I know you're lucky in this matter.
The coldest I have ever seen here was 0°F, but it was really exceptional, never happened before, never happened again, but we might have down to 14°F, though the average low temperature can be around 20°F - 24°F.
Summer can be very hot, though, generally around 90°F, with the highest temperature ever being 109°F.

Your cat condo is absolutely gorgeous and they are very lucky.
Thank you very much.
I bought it for a ginger cat I had in the past, but he rarely used it, and he died a few months later...

The girl who arrived a couple of years later liked it right away, I only added the polystyrene panels to make an extra space.
 

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What about just putting a box on the top of that shelter to see if she will still sleep there? You could start it with the open side up and then , if she agrees, flip it over and cut a door into it for her. If the works it will carry her scent and you can use the cardboard with her scent in a container for a third floor with some better hope that she will use it. It sounds like she wants to be near the others but they have established the house as their territory. A third floor of any available material might be a good start.
 

SweetLittleKitty

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I have two outdoor cats, boy and girl, both fixed. They have their dishes and a cat house where they sleep in when the weather is bad. The whole setup is in a sheltered part of the yard, it's exposed to southeast, it doesn't rain on it.

View attachment 403039

The cat house is a two-storey wooden structure. The upper floor was an open space, I closed it with insulating panels and now it's a closed and warm room. Both cats sleep "upstairs".
In the photo, the entrance to the upper floor is on the other side, the hidden one.

In the last few months a third cat joined the crew, she's mother to the boy. She's lovely and shy.
The thing that concerns me is that she always sleeps on the cat house roof, even if the ground floor room is available.
In these days the temperatures at night are between 25 and 28°F, and she's still sleeping outside.

I tried to push her in, but she fights and then runs away.
How could I convince her to sleep inside? I wouldn't like to have her sick when winter gets worse.
How cold can a cat stand?
You can try putting a warming pad on the top where she sleeps. She probably wants to be up high where she can keep an eye on night-time predators. You might spend some serious time monitoring what "predators" might be coming around (usually around feeding time, and after dark) and determine for yourself if she has legitimate fears (meaning if a real threat was present instead of jus opossums and skunks). She may get over this with time. You might also cut a window in the upstairs so they can see out, and install plexiglass to make it a window. It's a nice house!!
 
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Antonio65

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You can try putting a warming pad on the top where she sleeps. She probably wants to be up high where she can keep an eye on night-time predators. You might spend some serious time monitoring what "predators" might be coming around (usually around feeding time, and after dark) and determine for yourself if she has legitimate fears (meaning if a real threat was present instead of jus opossums and skunks). She may get over this with time. You might also cut a window in the upstairs so they can see out, and install plexiglass to make it a window. It's a nice house!!
I once had a warming pad that I would put in the "lower room", but it got worn out soon, and it was highly unsafe because in case of damage it could have killed a cat. It was directly connected to the mains, no transformer in between to reduce the voltage.
I never found a warming pad with good reviews since then.
Where I live (Italy) we do not have night predators. The only night creatures we have here are hedgehogs, a species that, as far as I know, isn't present in North America. The only "opponent" could be another feral cat passing by.

Yes, I had thought about cutting an opening in the front wall upstairs and closing it with a panel of plexiglass, actually I would have liked to replace all the insulating panels, but then I procrastinated, and now it isn't the right moment to do that, because should the other two cats get stressed out by the replacement, they could end up sleeping in the cold as well.
 
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Antonio65

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What about just putting a box on the top of that shelter to see if she will still sleep there? You could start it with the open side up and then , if she agrees, flip it over and cut a door into it for her. If the works it will carry her scent and you can use the cardboard with her scent in a container for a third floor with some better hope that she will use it. It sounds like she wants to be near the others but they have established the house as their territory. A third floor of any available material might be a good start.
The three cats get along very well, absolutely well. The cat who is sleeping on the top of the house is mother to one of the other two cats. The other one is very friendly to every cat.
I'll try with a box, but I'm so afraid that she might be "scared" and sleep somewhere else, in an even colder place.

Three cats_20211209.jpg

The three cats in my courtyard. The cat who is sleeping on the top is the one on the left. The middle one is the friendly one, the black cat with the blue tag is son to the first one.
 

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As an "in the meantime" solution - get one of those silvery car windshield sun reflectors. Try NAPA auto parts. Use a pair of scissors to trim it to the size of a cardboard box with low sides that fits on top of the house the other cats use. Note: Costco has all sorts and sizes of sturdy cardboard boxes that produce comes in, boxes free for the taking.

Wrap silvery sun reflector in thin towel and place in box, silver side up. When cat lies on it their body heat is reflected back up.

I have this in a box and my indoor only cats enjoy it.

Also, think about taping this heat mat / box to the house beneath it so it won't shift as the cat jumps in and out. There's a Gorilla sticky tape with both sides sticky that should work well.
 

Jcatbird

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Antonio65 Antonio65 You could start with just the mat mentioned by C catapault to see if any changes bother her. If not then use that mat that would then carry her scent in a shallow edged box. From there, put the whole thing into a deeper box , etc. etc. Try doing it by increments until she has more around or over her. A box turned on it’s side might be more attractive to her. I notice in the lates photo that she is sitting next to those flower pots. You could use those as a bit of a windbreak if she will not accept anything else. She seems comfortable beside them and they are familiar to her. If you had two more of those pots, they could act as corner supports for a piece of plywood for a roof for her. That would leave some opening for her between the pots on all sides. The pots filled with soil would be very insulating too. The brick wall behind your shelter may radiate some heat out for her too. Start with small alterations.
 

SweetLittleKitty

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I once had a warming pad that I would put in the "lower room", but it got worn out soon, and it was highly unsafe because in case of damage it could have killed a cat. It was directly connected to the mains, no transformer in between to reduce the voltage.
I never found a warming pad with good reviews since then.
Where I live (Italy) we do not have night predators. The only night creatures we have here are hedgehogs, a species that, as far as I know, isn't present in North America. The only "opponent" could be another feral cat passing by.

Yes, I had thought about cutting an opening in the front wall upstairs and closing it with a panel of plexiglass, actually I would have liked to replace all the insulating panels, but then I procrastinated, and now it isn't the right moment to do that, because should the other two cats get stressed out by the replacement, they could end up sleeping in the cold as well.
This is a tough job, being concerned for them. But as for procrastinating, well either you do the work, or you worry, and worry can be worse than the work! Besides, good timing is what matters. It's my theory that if you have your monitoring system down to a bit of time in the morning and a bit of time in the evening, the rest of the time is your free time, for the most part. The hardest part, I think, is being prepared for some emergency that might come up at an unexpected time, like a veterinary emergency, or a weather emergency. Anyhow, you've done a great job and your heart is in the right place. I am guessing you will get that window done because you won't like to keep worrying.
 

moxiewild

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I haven’t read the whole thread, so I apologize for any repeats.

We have found that some cats only feel safe higher up.This can be as easy as placing a simple tote shelter on top of a table.

More elaborate, but in the past (when tables weren’t an option or we needed to maximize space), we have created multi-level shelters to accommodate cats that prefer to be up high and/or sleep alone (excuse the mess!) -


437C1EAD-7B5A-4530-B64D-37D286C0D504.jpeg

Yellow circles are where an entry is cut out. We screw each tub on top of one another.

A39AAD1E-1721-4572-895E-0A78FAE12AAC.jpeg

The bottom tote has brick pavers on the bottom (then insulation material on top) to help keep everything weigh down and stable.

762D19CC-B810-4A9D-A278-D23FC657A060.jpeg

We put entry and exit holes on each tub. What’s also nice about this design is the little ledges and “porches” on top that the cats love to hang out on (including mine, as you can see!), especially during summer months.

DA6C5571-A959-4E5F-801B-C3EF402532A2.jpeg

If the cats tend to get along, sometimes we also cut holes that allow the cats to go from one level to another. We may do it this in addition to, or in lieu of, a second exit in each individual tub.

D07C5BAD-64BF-4D17-9366-9E9FA9E6BC38.jpeg


Ex. Yellow = second entry/exit, red = holes that connect each tub/shelter. The connecting holes and entry holes are always off to opposite sides so that the cat doesn’t just walk in and fall into the connecting hole, lol.

We’ve done many variations of this set up depending on how many cats there are, how well they get along, and their sleep preferences.

We don’t have super cold weather here, but if you do, that should be another consideration.you would want to limit the amount of holes (including connecting holes) as much as possible to better retain heat.

We also use tunnels for all our entries/exits so that helps with weather and windbreak. YMMV though -

03404B9C-0D77-48DF-BA11-D5944F29B0BF.jpeg

Different shelter (in progress), and we accidentally made the tunnel a bit too long (that’s why there’s a line on it showing us where to cut), but you get the idea.

We have also found some cats prefer to see out better. So we sometimes include (double pane) plexiglass windows, particularly on the sides without an entry/exit -

462F92D0-8BC4-4DAB-A4F0-D5B225711ECD.jpeg


Sorry, this shelter’s due for a cleaning! We also made it in a rush last year, so it’s done sloppier than normal. We usually either do the glue neater or add some wood trim to the outside to hide the glue.

Anyway, we had a bunch of cats who wouldn’t use ANY shelter we threw at them for years (including the one you have!), no matter what we did.

When the snowstorm hit Texas last year, I got desperate and instructed my boyfriend to try this (I was in the hospital at the time), and he did, and now they finally use them!

I have also found some cats don’t seem to like the wood shelters like yours - they would lay on the roof like your kitty, but wouldn’t go in. We have about 4 different variations like yours. They would use totes, though. Maybe it’s the smell or something?

Cats - especially ferals - can be sooo particular. Sometimes it just takes some (or a lot of) trial and error.

The general rule is, if they’re cold enough, they’ll use the shelter. If it’s super cold and they aren’t using it, it’s because they likely have somewhere else that they prefer to shelter in.

Doesn’t do much to ease our worries as their caretakers, but there’s only so much we can do!
 
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Antonio65

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There are some good updates.
On the last two or three mornings, when I went out to feed them, the cat who was sleeping on the roof would come out from the lower floor door. It seems she learned that she could sleep in there without harm or danger.
The bottom floor has an insulating panel and some old clothes in, but I'll make sure it is more comfortable.
 
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