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Cats outside in cold: OK?

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  • Cats outside in cold: OK?

    We are having ridiculously cold temps here in Washington. OK, OK, nothing like what you folks in the Midwest or Northeast or (god forbid) Canada have to put up with. But I don't live there, I live HERE, and I am being faced with animal issues that I'm not prepared for!

    I'm assuming the horses are all going to make it just fine. Some are in stalls, some are turned out; they are getting lots of hay and are drinking just great (normal volume, bless them). Dogs are all inside.

    I don't have the option of bringing the barn kitties inside. One reason, shared housing; another reason, cats aren't really catchable. They are inside the barn but the barn is hardly snug (lots of open air which most of the time -- not now -- I really appreciate!). There's hay for them to get up on, and a loft. They have food and water. Are they going to be OK with temps in the teens or single digits? So far they seem OK...

    Also, we have some cats in cages. Long story -- basically they are new introductions to the farm and they haven't been neutered yet (they are teenage kittens). We have hay in the cages, and a blanket over the cage. Food, water and company (2 furries in one cage, 3 in the other).

    In general, does this sound like adequate care for the kitties?
    Shall I tell you what I find beautiful about you? You are at your very best when things are worst.

  • #2
    I think that sounds just fine, especially since the caged kitties have friends!

    We have barn kitties here and temps were -15 earlier this week. Kitties are fine

    If you are concerned, is there a place you could plug in a heating pad? One barn I was at had a teenaged kitty, and she lived on the heating pad in the winter.


    • #3
      Our barn cats in Central Michigan live outdoors all the time. (Well, in the barn, but it's not like it's heated.) If it gets REALLY bad, Dad will put on the kerosene heater for them in the tack room. But generally, they're fine--they have all their kitty beds in the tack room, and the hay in the loft or the old stalls if they like. They all seem to get along fine.
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      • #4
        Safer than a plug-in heater might be one of those pads that reflect the heat back when the cat is on it. Like this. I got one for the working student's kitten one winter after I finished changing my clothes in the tack room and she was curled up on my semi-warm discarded riding clothes. They do get pretty warm. I sat on it to test it out.

        I suspect the cats will be fine tho, especially with their friends for warmth. I saw cats living outside in New England.
        The Evil Chem Prof


        • #5
          Mine are fine, when it gets really cold, they either fight for prime real estate under the heat lamp or dig caves in the hay and straw and curl up in cat heaps. The biggest thing is a source of water - heated dish works best, and feed some tinned food as well and the cheaper the better because of the higher fat and moisture content. Also left overs from the house would be appreciated - things like fat trimmings, too tough to eat bits of meat, gristle, poultry skin...all fatty and calorie laden. The fat does really warm them up. Of course lots of cat petting time if you can manage it.
          Founder of the Dyslexic Clique. Dyslexics of the world - UNTIE!!

          Member: Incredible Invisbles


          • #6
            Ah, a similar story: I'm in WA with an airy barn and barn kitties that I'm worried about. For them I created a little cave on the hay with some saddle pads. They seem to enjoy it more than their hay nests, but I'm sure they'd be fine without it. Your setup for the other cats of blanket covered, hay bedded cages with multiple cats inside sounds more than adequate. As long as they all have access to food and water they should be fine.

            Supplementing them a little bit with fats and oils might help. My cats are taking that a little further and adding some birds into the mix (first catch I've seen from these two). Time to break out the canned food!


            • #7
              With food, water and shelter they'll be absolutely fine. Remember they've got lovely made to measure fur coats.

              It tends to be persistent freezing rain and wet and lack of food that does harm to animals.

              The only ones I'd be concerned about are the caged ones if they're not able to move about a lot to keep warm. I'd suggest using a vet bed (is that what you call them? purpose made fleecy that always stays dry) and putting some polystyrene or pack hay round the wind prevailing side of the cage.

              I definitely wouldn't suggest heat pads and stuff like that unless they were very tiny kittens or unwell.


              • #8
                Well, I brought the outside cats in last night...but not because of the cold. Because of the snow and winds. However I have outside feral cats...not barn cats. Go figure...I get feral cats who claimed my back deck as a home and refuse to go in my barn. So while I do have 2 insulated cat houses out on the deck...they weren't happy about trying to hop through loose powdered snow that's deeper than they are tall. Hubby and I felt bad, so they're shut up in my finished basement family room.
                But if it were just really cold they;d be fine outside. When I lifted each to bring him in last night, both were toasty warm to the touch even without having a barn to live in. We're just dingbat suckers who felt bad for them, they were fine.
                Cats so amazingly well in cold temps. And really hot temps too. They're an extremely adaptable animal. Many times when it's below zero with the wind chill I've watched Spare Kitty happily sitting up on the deck railing enjoying the night instead of in his insulated and fleece lined igloo.
                Do make sure they have water, keep their water bowls from being ice skating rinks and keep them well fed during the cold temps.
                You jump in the saddle,
                Hold onto the bridle!
                Jump in the line!


                • #9
                  granted i'm not even close to your temps, but our 3 cats stay out all the time, they will bed in the fresh straw and snuggle up together. we do have a cat bed for each and they do use that as well...our barn does not have any area that is completely closed off, so they are in the elements...


                  • #10
                    Here's another idea from a friend of mine.
                    She takes an old, rectangular, plastic hard shell food cooler (large, Igloo type), flips it upside down and cuts a doorway hole in one of the short ends. Then she puts pads/blanketing down in the sheltered corner of her deck, puts the cooler-turned-cat-shelter over the stuffing, and then covers it all with blankets and a plastic tarp, so that just the doorway is open for entry. The cat(s) stay warm, toasty and dry in it.
                    "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." Albert Einstein



                    • #11
                      That is a clever idea with the cooler turned condo for an outside kitty.

                      To the OP, your crew sounds like they have been very well provided for during this tough time. I have one older kitty, she is 14, who lives in the barn. She has her box on a table, with a pillow in it which has a nice old plush bathrobe over it. Above the box is a heat lamp which keeps her toasty and her drinking water melted for a couple hours- twice a day it gets dumped and refilled. She gets canned food at night and dry food 24/7.


                      • #12
                        Ditto on the heated water dish!
                        The only drawback to mine is the birds use it too so I need to empty & refill nightly or kitty has to drink birdy bathwater w/poop. Mostly she hops into the stalls through the feed opening and drinks from the horses' water buckets (also heated) anyhow.

                        I got two of those fleece pet beds on sale (2 for $10!) and kitty sleeps in one that I've cocooned with an old sleeping bag on the stacked hay inside the barn. My barn is open as the stall doors to outside never get shut, but it is insulated and noticeably warmer than outside.

                        If those heatable gel pads go on sale I'll get one, but right now she's doing just fine in single-digit temps w/o.

                        I also feed her canned food for the extra fat & liquid but just as much as she'll eat at one time or it freezes.
                        *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
                        Steppin' Out 1988-2004
                        Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
                        Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


                        • #13
                          I pretty much agree with Thomas on this one. The loose cats will be fine as long as they have a place to get into shelter. The ones in cages are more vulnerable because they don't have the option of running around to warm up or finding better shelter if theirs is inadequate. The one thing I'd add is that it makes a difference how well the cat is acclimated. A barn cat is much better prepared for weather extremes than an indoor cat. My shorthaired indoor only pet cat suffers when we turn the heat down to 60 degrees. He'd freeze if I abruptly put him outside; his coat and his metabolism aren't prepared for it. In contrast, his country cousins are perfectly happy in a hay loft when it's 15 degrees outside.


                          • #14
                            My barn cats stay warm and toasty in all sorts of weather, as long as they have hay, food, and water. I've even seen them out in the field hunting when it was negative-brrr and they could have been tucked up in shelter. One of the best cat cubbies I've ever seen was two plastic storage stackable things, the kind that have an opening on the front and are airtight when closed, like you would store cookies or flour or pet food in. They are about 18 inches cubed. I found two unused in a relative's garage, took the doors off, put some hay in, and put those in my garage. Nearly every morning when I go out to feed, at least one cat pops out of each of them at food call.


                            • #15
                              My cats are total wusses. They have heated beds.


                              • #16
                                Well we've 4 cats and all supposed to be farm cats.

                                One is lying sprawled on top of the radiator next to me with her head on the phone. One is under the christmas tree playing with the tinsel. One is flat out asleep on the settee.

                                The fourth "Sid Vicious" will be somewhere outside. He's the only one we have that decided he didn't want servants and feed on demand. He was an older un-neutered Tom cat when we first acquired him. My wife went to see him at the vets after he'd just been trapped as part of a huge feral colony clear-out. Our vet (some friend he is!) said come and see them, no obligation. Sid had a sign on his cage that said "euthanase or neuter after Susan has viewed"

                                Needless to say he got neutered and came to Flodden Edge! He's not sociable - indeed he's a total wild thug! We often don't see him for weeks on end.We put food down for him and he copes perfectly well each winter. He normally gets himself in the hay barn and somewhere between and in the middle of the stacks of round bales


                                • #17
                                  I always worry about this, especially as my barn cat makes her annual bid to become a house cat. Unfortunately, she doesn't get along with the house cats - I actually tried it over Thanksgiving and it just doesn't work. So, it's -9 here this morning and Molly is out in the barn. She has a box house with a wool sweater insulated by hay bales on all sides, and also has a "front porch" in front of the box, also surrounded on all sides by hay. This morning when I went to feed, she was in her hay hole on the "front porch". The box is actually warmer, so she's obviously doing just fine out there. I stuck my hand in to pet her when I brought her food to her and she was toasty warm. I still worry, but there's really no reason to. I do have a heated water bowl for her so she gets her water.


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Thomas_1 View Post
                                    Well we've 4 cats and all supposed to be farm cats.

                                    One is lying sprawled on top of the radiator next to me with her head on the phone. One is under the christmas tree playing with the tinsel. One is flat out asleep on the settee.
                                    I can just see it!


                                    • #19
                                      We have 4 farm cats that live in the barns they do fine even at -30 F they curl up in the straw or hay except old mama cat she sleeps on top of the outdoor wood boiler we use to heat the house.
                                      Quality doesn\'t cost it pays.


                                      • #20
                                        Our 2 barn cats do fine in all temperatures, right down to below zero. They have shelter in the barn, and have found all the warm little spots to cuddle in. They especially like the hayloft, and the rumps of the horses. Usually I see one cat perched on each horse's butt every time I drive by the barn if it's not snowing.
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