Cats make themselves comfortable just about anywhere inside. That means the couch, your bed, a perch in the sun, or even the laundry basket. Snuggle spots are easy to come by. If you have an outdoor explorer, or if there are feral cats you care for, finding a sleeping place may not be so simple. Outdoor cat houses not only provide a soft spot to lay a feline head, they also keep the cat safe from the elements.
The Great Outdoors
Not every cat is a homebody. Some felines like venturing into the backyard. Others explore entire neighborhoods. Barn cats take patrolling their farm territory seriously. When it’s time to take a break from the adventures, those cats prefer somewhere safe and secure to rest their feet. Outdoor cat houses make the perfect spot to flop down.
When the weather’s nice, your cat might enjoy stretching out on the grass to soak up the sun. But what about when the sky opens up and pours down rain? Or when snow lies thick on the ground? Even a good wind storm can ruffle thick coats. Outdoor cat houses provide shelter from the storm, keeping kitties warm and dry.
Feral cats may put on a show of bluster when you set out their daily offering of food. They’re not interested in settling into housecat life. However, they’re still susceptible to attack from larger predators such as coyotes, roaming dogs, and raccoons. With outdoor cat houses available, they have somewhere safe to run to and hide out from such dangers.
Outdoor cat houses come in a lot of forms and designs. Depending on whether you’re providing a casual residence for your cat while they explore outside, or you’re trying to comfort the neighborhood feral, you may favor one design over another. No matter which house you choose, make sure you keep several factors in mind.
- Size: We know cats like to wedge themselves into tiny boxes. However, you want the outdoor cat house to fit your cat appropriately. Too large, and they won’t stay warm in the cold. Too small, and they can’t use it. Try to measure your cat first.
- Material: Where do you plan to keep the house? Fabric outdoor cat houses won’t hold up to the elements, so they need to stay under cover. Wood, plastic, or asphalt roofs do fine out in the open.
- Doors: Two doors are an essential safety feature. If a predator can fit through one door, your cat can escape through the other. That said, if there’s only one door, make sure it’s too small to permit a coyote or raccoon from joining your cat inside.
- Weatherproofing: You’re purchasing an outdoor cat house. Make sure the house can withstand rain, snow, wind, and heat.
- Insulation: For cold locations, check for built-in insulation or a heating pad. If the house doesn’t have them, aim for enough space that you can line it with straw (straw makes an excellent insulator).
- Assembly: Different outdoor cat houses come together in different ways. Some use Velcro, others zippers, and some require a toolbox. Make sure you’re prepared to handle your choice.
- Ease of Cleaning: Your cat appreciates a clean house, the same as you. If you need contortionist abilities to clean the outdoor cat house, you may want to skip it for an easier option.
Best Outdoor Cat Houses
Not just outdoor felines benefit from outdoor cat houses. Even our indoor cats enjoy occasional jaunts outside. With a cozy shelter to retreat to, cats feel more secure investigating the wide world. Or you may want to provide a comfortable home for that feral cat who calls your porch home. Whatever the reason, outdoor cat houses make the outside world a little safer for our feline family members.
Best Standard Outdoor Cat Houses
While these outdoor cat houses may not come with bells and whistles, they get the job done. They provide adequate shelter and give your cat a sense of privacy. You can easily provide insulation from the cold with cushy layers of straw or hay. (The layers add padding, as well!)
PetMate’s sturdy shelter provides a comfortable outdoor cat house for your feral or barn cat to call home. The plastic keeps rain and snow off while also preventing the wind from coming through. You can opt to purchase a protective flap for the door, though you may need to train your cat to tolerate and use it. There’s plenty of room to add insulation or pillows as you see fit, and it’s a cinch to clean.
Downside? There is only one entrance, and it’s large enough to admit a predator. If you’re not in an area with coyote or roaming dogs, you’re probably fine.
PetMate provides another option for those that want just a little more from their outdoor cat houses. The Kitty Kat Condo offers plenty of spacious room. The ample design accommodates larger cats or even several cats at once. A carpeted base provides insulation from the ground while cushioning your kitties during their sleep. The igloo design diverts rain away from the top, and the sturdy plastic holds up against the outdoor elements. The opening makes it easy for you to reach in and clean.
The downsides? Again, there’s only a single entrance, and it’s large enough for anything to get inside. This can include water if the rainfall’s heavy, so consider keeping it under a shelter. The carpet’s permanently attached to the floor, which can make cleaning a little annoying (maybe invest in a handy pet vacuum).
Best Insulated Outdoor Cat Houses
You’re worried about your outdoor feline keeping warm as the mercury drops. Maybe you don’t have ready access to straw (or you’re highly allergic to it, like someone I could mention). Choosing insulated outdoor cat houses solves the problem perfectly. Your cats still get shelter from the elements, but they also benefit from a little extra warmth. After all, even the thickest, fluffiest coats are no match for winter and snow.
Kitty City’s outdoor cat house breaks the plastic tradition, constructed from a durable, water-resistant fabric. Two exits with detachable panels provide safety for your cats, as well as protection from wind and rain. The insulated walls reflect your cat’s body heat at them, keeping them toasty in the chill. Best of all, if you buy more than one, they comfortably stack atop one another to form a kitty condo!
Downside? The floor and roof aren’t removable, making cleaning a bit of a pain.
The Kitty Tube combines a little bit of everything into the perfect outdoor cat house. The sturdy plastic exterior keeps cats sheltered from rain and show. There’s even an awning over the door and a vent to keep condensation from building up inside. The insulated interior keeps felines warm in the cold and cool in the hotter months. There’s only a single door, but it comes with a detachable clear flap, and the design deters predator access. The top unscrews to allow for easy cleaning, and you even get a machine-washable pillow for extra kitty comfort. Best of all, you get a lifetime warranty against cracking, fading, or chipping!
The downsides? This isn’t the cheapest of the outdoor cat houses. The anti-predator design is based around small size, which means larger cats also get excluded. And if water’s allowed to pool on the roof, it may seep in through the vent. (Try to keep an eye on things to prevent this)
Best Heated Outdoor Cat Houses
If you live in the colder regions, or you experience icy winters, you may prioritize keeping your outdoor cats warm. Heated outdoor cat houses fit the bill nicely. Just keep in mind that such homes need access to an electrical outlet. As such, you want to keep them AWAY from the elements (rain) to avoid potential electric shocks. Be careful with the use of heating pads, as well – they CAN cause unwanted burns. Ideally, you only want the heated pad under part of the house. This allows the cat to move away if they get too warm.
If you want to give your cats the chance to experience the camping life, you can’t go wrong with K&H’s A-Frame. The comfortable outdoor cat house holds up to four cats at a time. You can choose a heated or unheated version (if the power cord leaves you nervous). The cable stretches 5.5 feet, and it only requires 40 watts of power. The pad WON’T activate unless pressure gets applied, so don’t worry about a fire hazard. The sturdy fabric has a waterproof coating, but since you’re using electricity, it’s best to keep it out of the water. Two exits feature detachable plastic flaps to keep out the elements.
Downsides? This outdoor cat house rests flat on the ground, making it susceptible to rot. You’re best bet is to place it on a sturdy platform. You can’t adjust the controls for the heating pad, unhappily. And people noted the A-Frame was smaller than pictured, so make sure you measure your cats appropriately.
K&H’s Kitty House provides another multi-cat option for outdoor cat house shoppers. The nylon exterior with vinyl backing provides waterproofing. However, if you select the heated option, you should keep it under a shelter. Both the heated and unheated options come in three colors (green, red, and grey). Two exits keep your cat safe from unwanted predators and gusts of wind, while the insulated walls and roof keep them warm in the colder months. You get the same electrical cord length and settings as the A-Frame, with room inside the house for two medium-sized cats.
The downsides? The house is LIGHT. Consider weighing it down or keep it out of the wind, so it doesn’t blow over. And while it may claim waterproofing, people who kept theirs out in the rain saw water leak through. Your best bet is to keep it well-sheltered. And, again, you don’t have control over the setting of the heating pad.
If you want to give your cat a little style with your outdoor cat house, Petyella provides the best option. Your cat not only gets shelter from the storm, but they also get a decorative home, complete with shingles, a garden box, and a house number. The bottom is entirely waterproof, and your kitty gets extra padding with their heating pad. You get three feet of chew-proof electrical cord for peace of mind, along with a 13-foot extension cord for a little more space. A plug-in timer gives you more control over the heating pad’s settings. Two doors with protective flaps ensure your cat’s safety and protection. And grommeted tabs at the corners let you stake the house in place to keep it from blowing away.
So what are the downsides? All this cuteness comes with a little higher price tag. And while it may be waterproof, it’s still utilizing electricity and should stay under shelter for your cat’s safety. Some people also felt their heating pads were weak or faulty, so check your product before you set it up for your cat.
Bring on the Outdoors
We want our cats – or the cats in our care – to stay as comfortable as possible. Outdoor cat houses provide necessary shelter, safety, and comfort. Whether we go for a simple design and basic insulation or splurge on an elegant dollhouse with all the trappings, we’re still doing the best we can for our feline companions.
So let your cats venture out into the great backyard. As long as they have their outdoor cat houses to retreat to, you know they’ll be safe and secure.