Monday Musing: Caring for your outdoor cat

Caring for your Outdoor Cat

Outdoors cats can fall into several categories. They could be your barn cats, a feral cat that has wondered onto your property or a stray/lost cat. Please refer to our Monday Musing from last week if you think that your outdoor cat might be stray or lost.

Caring for your outdoor cat is an especially important task to consider in the winter. Frigid temperatures and a lack of food can make survival a real challenge for outdoor cats. Although most outdoor cats really prefer the elements, following the below tips will help to ensure your outdoor cat has the basic necessities to ensure they maintain good health and overall welfare.

Winter Housing

The four main points to consider with winter housing include the size, location (accessibility), insulation and building materials. When building your winter housing, ensure the enclosure has enough room for three to four cats. Cats, especially those in feral colonies, love to sleep together for index (2)warmth and companionship. Finding the appropriate location for your house is also very important. Feral and outdoor cats need to feel safe and protected. The ideal location would have minimal foot traffic and would keep the cat safe from predators. If you outdoor cat is a barn cat, then your winter housing could be located in a loft or a tack room.

Insulation and building materials help to ensure your house will survive against the elements. Common building materials for outdoor cat housing include Styrofoam boxes, hay, towels and newspaper.

Follow this link for instructions on building the ideal winter house for your outdoor cat: OUTDOOR CAT SHELTERS

Food & Water

Quality food and fresh water are the foundation of maintaining health. In the winter food sources can become scarce due to competition from other animals and extreme weather conditions. Food and water sources for your outdoor cats should be checked and refreshed daily. The location of the bowls should ideally be very close to your shelter and be protect from rain, snow and wind. Ideally, the food and water should have an insulated location, much like the housing, to prevent the water from freezing.uc-extended-roof-feeding-house

For more tips on how to prevent water from freezing: CLICK HERE

Preventing Reproduction

Outdoor cats or barn cats should be sterilized, vaccinated and treated regularly with parasite medications. For feral cats or colonies, trap, neuter, release is the best method of population control and colony maintenance.  TNR takes man power, time and patience. As well, to trap a feral cat in Ontario, you must be certified by an appropriate organization or group. The Toronto Feral Cat Project holds regular and affordable workshops on TNR certification. Are you interested? Learn more on their website.

If you are in the Georgian Triangle Area and you have a feral cat colony in your area, call the GTHS to find out if a TNR project has been initiated in your area.

Are you looking to adopt a barn cat? Learn more about the GTHS barn cat program.


Stay informed on GTHS events, initiatives and programs. Learn how the GTHS team is serving the pets and people of the South Georgian Bay Area. Read heart-warming Happy Tails about GTHS Alumni. See a lot of really cute pictures of dogs and cats!