That's what I bought for our barn cats. It shuts off if tipped over. I researched a ton, to make sure it would be safe.
Make sure electrical cord is not where it can be frayed. I also changed out the electrical outlet, because it is an old barn, and existing outlet looked worn/dusty.
When DH and I first started dating, he lived in an ancient farmhouse that he was renting on some land. Yanno the phrase "value in the land"?? Yeah, that would be this place. Floor had sunk in spots, zero insulation, and he stopped using the propane to heat it because it was costing more than $600/mo . He used those oil-filled radiator-style heaters and they kept the house nicely warm, as said by this girl who was a lizard in another life.
Continuing on, I know I've seen cord protectors that you can run over the cords, and I think that would keep critters from chewing on them. Other than the story here, I've never heard of this kind of space heater catching fire.
I had one of those enclosed oil space heaters and got the electrician to put a heavy duty electrical line directly to the master electrical panel, specifically to handle the load. It still melted the socket into which it was plugged.
No fire, but I would not use one again.
I have some guinea pigs that live outside in a sheltered area where it is occasionally cold. I work at a feed store where we get vaccines in styrofoam boxes every week.
So I gave the pigs boxes of styro with an entry door punched in and lots of straw. First bad bought of weather I stuck my hand in the styro box-the little pigs were ROASTING. I swear it was 80 degrees in that box.
I'd get a big styro cooler, make a cat hole, stuff with blankets, and thank thee lucky stars you don't live in Montana. Where my pigs live. When I have had real barn cats I broke up straw bales and the cats burrowed in...they manage. Don't coddle them too much. don't burn the barn down coddling them... :-/
I made a really cool little shelter for my kitty, for outside. I had an old fish tank stand and I wrapped it in cardboard and cut a hole in the middle of it. Inside the hut is a hard plastic thermal heater. It has a thinner fleece pad that is removable and padded a couple of small blankets on the inside to retain heat as well. This heat pad is rated for outside use and provides just enough warmth for him and doesn't get super hot at all.
But it works great, and made for those just in case times he goes out and doesn't come back in. Which happens because he loves to hunt at night. I think I paid $32 bucks for it. Even of you set up a totally contained(plus a door) thick cardboard box with some blankets stuffed inside, I think his body heat would create enough warmth.
I would be leery of a space heater as well! I don't think I could sleep at night knowing it was on. I actually almost lit a couch on fire with a space heater when I was younger! Left it on and fell asleep, when I woke up the couch had an eight inch scorch/melt mark on it! So I tend to stay away from space heaters now lol!
I have two incredibly spoiled barn cats that have heated beds and an electric heater in the tackroom. I bought one that will turn off if knocked over. I have had it for several years and have had no issues with it.
RIP Sucha Smooth Whiskey
May 17,2004 - March 29, 2010
RIP San Lena Peppy
May 3, 1991 - March 11, 2010
You can also buy 2 large plastic storage containers, 1 smaller than the other, and put the small one inside the large one. Fill the space around the smaller one with hay or insulation. Cut an opening that goes through both as a door.Put lid on small one back on, add insulation, and put larger lid on. I put those self heating cat beds from Dr Fosters in them. They are very cozy.
The barn cats where I board have beds that only heat when they lay in them. I'm not sure where she found them but I can ask. Supposedly the heating element only turns on when the cat lays in the bed. I've checked and they are cool when the cats are out and about.
"I would not beleive her if her tongue came notorized"
"I also trap them in a Have-a-Heart and shoot through the bars."
Crone, I don't know how it is in the Hill Country but here in East Texas/Southwest Arkansas, heating is the last thing you need to worry about. It was about 78 last night. I hate to admit it but I turned on the AC in the house because I was sweating like a pig, it was so hot and humid.
If you don't want to do anything heated, there are many instructions for building "outdoor" cat shelters from those big Rubbermaid storage bins, insulated with styrofoam and lined with straw. Here's just one of many links: http://www.alleycat.org/ShelterGallery
We just made one of these for our shitten. We took an old foam cooler, and cut a hole in the front. Then we wrapped it is camo duct tape (classy huh?) and I filled it with fleece scraps. The shitten loves it. It looks trashy but works great! If it ever got super cold I'd put a microwave heat thing in there too.
The cat will be fine as long as he has access to food, water and a place out of drafts to sleep. He already has a fur coat what more does he need? If you must warm him try one of those heated pet mats. My poor barn cat does just fine in well below zero temps, she sleeps on the hay bales. using a heater is asking for trouble.
Proud to be owned by 2 appaloosa mares and an ornery mule.