A lot of people have outdoor cats that they feed and give water to regularly. Due to different reasons, some people their cats indoors and have them live outdoors, leaving them trying to figure out how to keep their cats warm in a garage. There may be any number of reasons why people own outdoor cats – like having a cat allergy, using them for rodent control or even for any behavioural issues the cat might be having around the house.
Outdoor cats are usually independent and often wants for nothing except food and water. The challenge they face as outdoor cats is usually changing in winter weather conditions when it's cold and the accompanying dark winter days and nights. At these times, outdoor cats find solace in garages that they can access and exit easily while remaining warm in the cold winter.
We have organised this epic guide to provide you with all the information that you need to know about how to keep cats warm in your garage. Whether it is a cat that prefers to stay outdoors or this is just a feral or starry cat that you want to give some food and shelter in your garage, you will be able to keep them warm by applying the below measures.
Also, if you have considered adoption or have a favourite cat as a pet inside your home, you can also apply some of these methods listed below to ensure that they stay warm all through the winter.
How Cold Can Cats Survive Outside?
If you are a new cat owner, there is information on how to proceed, but you should always monitor the living conditions of your cat closely. If you overlook that they are outside your home in low temperatures, there's a chance that may fall prey to medical conditions like hypothermia and frostbite. Both serious conditions can lead your cat to death.
It is difficult to find the exact temperature that can be considered too cold for cats but you can hazard a guess based on various factors like age, body mass, fur thickness, etc. The exact temperature threshold for indoor and outdoor cats is also different.
Based on feedback from many cat owners, below is the recognised temperature threshold for indoor cats, outdoor cats and kittens. Showing how cold cats can survive outside;
- Indoor cats: For indoor cats, if the temperature drops below 7°C or 45 °F, they should not live outside.
- Outdoor cats: For outdoor cats, once the temperature drops below 0°C or 32°F, you'll see your outdoor cat seeking shelter inside your garage.
- Kittens or older cats: The temperature limit is for kittens or older cats is similar to indoor cats. If the thermometer drops below 7°C or 45 °F, you should definitely not leave them outside, especially at night.
How To Keep Cats Warm in a Garage:
The garage is usually colder than inside your home – the walls are thinner and there are quiet space heaters you can use indoors that may or may not suit your garage, depending on the size. If you want your outdoor cat to live in your garage during the cold, then you will have to take some extra measures to keep this place warm.
There are a number of ways to keep your cat warm in the garage. The natural rule to apply here is that your cat also feels as cold as a human would.
Here are some simple tips and tricks that will help you keep your cat warm in the garage:
1. Buy a Shelter or Kennel:
The perfect shelter for your cat may be a kennel, a cat house, or an igloo. There are a lot of cat shelters available in the market made of plastic, metal wires and fabric, available in different sizes and designs. The most popular cat house is a cat cave or cat igloo. The cat igloo is a perfect shelter for cats to live in the garage as it is an enclosed home that stays warm and cosy. It comes in different sizes and completely insulated, with a hole in one side for the cat to get in and out.
Last update on 2020-12-03 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
2. Place the Cat Shelter on Right Place:
Place the cat shelter or kennel in the spot in your garage. Find the right place in your garage where there is no cold air draught coming through, possibly by a wall that provides a windbreak. If you have a carport in the garage then that would be the best place for a cat shelter. Usually, the carport has walls on three sides and provides a windbreak. It tends to maintain a temperature that is 5 degrees more even in the coldest winter days.
3. Using a Heater or Heating Pad:
A cat heater mat or heater pad is another way to keep warm your cat in the garage. Buying a small heater mat or heating pad is an inexpensive way to keep your beloved pet warm without risk to their health. Oil-filled radiators are the best choice for this purpose when used in a fully enclosed space as there is no risk of fire or burning. But cats enjoy the extra heat that a heating pad gives.
Last update on 2020-12-03 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
But remember to set the temperature according to the requirement and comfort of your cat. Too much heat or running the heater for an extended period of time may cause discomfort for your pet.
Heating pads or warming pads only last for a few hours before they need to be reheated. A maximum time of a heating pad can be up to 10 hours, a time that is sufficient for a cat living in the garage. A heating pad is also a much cheaper option when compared to buying a radiator or heater.
4. Proper Food & Hydration:
Keeping your cat fully hydrated and proper food is another best way to keep them warm in cold winter days. It is really important to keep your cat fully fed and hydrated regularly. Fully fed and hydrated cats are perfect hunters and the mobility helps to keep them warm.
It allows your cat to remain full of energy and helps defend it against the cold weather conditions.
5. Cover the Igloo with Towels or Blankets:
Using towels or blankets is another good way to insulate your cat shelter. Putting some towels or thick blankets underneath and on its sides is the best way to prevent the internal heat from escaping from the shelter.
The thick layer of towels or blankets can give your cat enough warmth. These should be changed often as they can get damp in the cold, so always use fresh, dry and clean towels.
6. Elevate the Cat Shelter from Ground Level:
The floor in your garage will be a lot colder during the winter. If the bottom of the cat shelter is in direct contact with the ground, the heat can escape from shelter to the ground due to temperature difference and your cat may feel cold.
You can prevent this heat loss by elevating the shelter to a certain height above the ground. It will create a buffer zone between the colder ground and the bottom of the shelter and will prevent heat loss.
7. Keep Your Cat Dressed If Possible:
The right dressing is another way to keep your cat warm in the garage. While some cats hate clothing and become furious and show destructive behaviour when clothing.
Other well behaved cats will have no issues wearing a cat turtleneck to stay warm. So where possible, you should consider using cute cat jackets or coats to keep your cats warm. It will help your cat to look more adorable and more importantly keep them warm.
Special Precautions to Take When a Cat living in the Garage:
If you own pets but have a pet allergy and can't bear to see your cats outdoors in the cold, then this air purifier will work great while you have them indoors.
Other precautions to take when your cat is living in your garage to help you avoid any accidents, include the following –
- Before starting your car, hit on the car boot once or twice to check if your cat is hiding underneath it to get warm. Starting your car randomly can startle your cat or even worse, hurt it.
- Your neighbours might use salts or ice melts for the snow around your property, there's a risk that it can hurt the cat's paws. There's also a chance that it may be toxic if licked off their paws. Instead of using possibly toxic chemicals, try to ensure they use pet-friendly ice melt, available online, in most markets and stores.
- Crosscheck the bedding of the igloo to make sure that it is not wet. Wet bedding may be one of the worst cold conditions for your pet to be in on a cold winter day.
- Always look for any signs that your cat might be feeling the cold. These signs include any obvious shivers, weakness, lethargy, anxiety or destructive behaviour.
- Always keep an eye on the temperature level – using a thermometer – if you are using a heat source like a heating pad or heating lamp. Too much heating may make your cat uncomfortable.
Is it OK to let an indoor cat outside?
- Allow your cat out in the day but have indoors at night as there is a higher chance of getting hurt at night. There are more predatory animals at night and cats can be dazzled by car headlights on the road. Getting a reflective cat collar will also ensure he is seen, particularly in the winter months when it gets dark earlier.
- If you live on or near a busy road, then try persuading your cat indoors (by regulating the feeding pattern) during the busy morning and evening times.
- Check to make sure your cat is vaccinated against all possible infectious diseases.
- If you do get your cat a reflective collar, make sure it is one with an easy release safety catch allowing a quick escape should the collar get snagged on a tree or fence. Clearly write your phone number clearly so that anyone that discovers your cat sick or injured can contact you to let you know. Many people now get GPS cat trackers for their cats. It operates on a special radio frequency and comes with a homing tag to help identify the location of your cat.
- Make sure that your cat is neutered. The overall risk to other animals is much greater than it is to neutered cats. Neutered cats are not aggressive, at lower risk of being infected while in a fight and tend not to wander far from home. The risks of pregnancy are also eliminated when you have a neutered female cat.
Anyone who loves and lives with a cat knows how difficult it is to keep cats warm in the garage, especially in cold and dark winters when the temperature drops to being freezing and frosty. It can get quite tough keeping your cats warm and comfortable in winter days as compared to the summer season.
During the winter, you may also observe that your outdoor cats discover new hideaways to rest where there some sun during the day. It may also be near a fireplace, a heating vent or on the top of the clothes dryer. Cats are smart creatures and they can find good spots on their own, but there are some areas where they might need your help.
The above-mentioned measures can be very helpful in keeping cats warm in the garage during winter and ensuring that they stay comfortable. Even if you adopt any of the above measures, it is still very important to keep your cat fully fed and hydrated. This helps fulfil a primary need that will help your cat remain warm in the winter.