Here are the best outdoor cat houses we’ll be covering:
- Multiple cats option: K&H Pet Products Kitty House Extra-Wide
- Wooden option: K&H Pet Products Birchwood Manor Outdoor
- Weatherproof option: The Kitty Tube with Pillow
- Community/feral cats option: ecoFLEX Albany Outdoor Feral Cat House
- 2-story option: Petsfit 2-Story Cat House
Choosing an outdoor cat house
Keeping outdoor cats warm during the winter is important for their comfort, safety, and well-being. The best way to do this is to provide them with some type of shelter. This could be a homemade shelter, a shed, a garage, or an outdoor cat house.
Outdoor cat houses are designed to keep cats dry and warm in the winter and also can help keep cats cool in the summer. They come in many different styles and are made from a variety of materials. Some are heated while others rely on insulation and straw bedding to provide warmth. They might be large or small, have one or two entrances, and be made from wood or plastic.
In order to find the best outdoor cat house for your needs, you will want to consider factors such as safety, weatherproofing, insulation, size, the weather conditions in your area, and the specific needs and number of cats you care for.
Should outdoor cat houses have two doors?
According to many opinions, cat houses should have two doors so that a cat has a way to escape from predators. The second door can make outdoor or community cats feel more secure by providing a way to escape from common predators such as other cats, dogs, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, and snakes. If they know they can’t become trapped inside, outdoor cats might be more likely to use the shelter.
On the other hand, there are advantages to outdoor cat houses with only one exit. A cat house with a doorway that is small will keep out threatening large predators that tend to hunt in packs. In some cases, it might be riskier for cats to exit the shelter and try to flee from a predator than to remain inside. A second door also lets in more cold air and drafts.
Flaps over doors might deter predators and keep out cold air. However, some cats are reluctant to enter a cat house with door flaps.
What do you put in an outside cat house?
Straw is the best material to put inside an outdoor cat house because it repels moisture and keeps cats dry. Hay, blankets, towels, newspapers, and cat beds absorb moisture and are prone to mold. Wet bedding will make it hard for cats to stay warm, and mold can endanger their health.
Pack the straw loosely to the one-quarter point of the shelter. Once cats nestle inside it, they will shape it into a cozy bed. You can purchase straw for your cat house at pet supply stores, garden stores, farms, or online. Store the extra straw in a dry place, and switch it out once every season.
Are outdoor heated houses safe?
In very cold conditions and when cats don’t have access to indoor shelter, heated outdoor cat houses can help them stay warm. Heated cat houses come with an electric heating pad that becomes warm when the cat sits on it.
To test that it is working, you can put a pillow on it for about 20 minutes and see if it warms up. When in use, nothing should be placed on top of an electric heating pad in a cat house.
To be sure a heating pad is safe, check that it is approved for outdoor use. It should have an MET safety label indicating that it has been tested and meets safety requirements. Before you use the heated pad, test it by turning it on for 20-30 minutes and checking that it is warm and not hot.
You should put a heated cat shelter in a covered place where it won’t come into contact with water. Leaving room for a non-heated area inside the cat house provides the cats with a comfortable and safe place to rest if it becomes too warm on the heated pad.
Our recommendation for the best outdoor cat house
Multiple cats option
This cat house by K&H is comfortable, water resistant, and large enough for multiple cats. It is available in a heated and an unheated version. The unheated version comes with a polyester Berber pad while the heated version comes with a heated bed that is tested and certified by MET Labs for safety.
Two exits provide a safe way for cats to escape if there are predators in your area. The doors come with removable door flaps to keep cold air from entering the house and to further protect cats from predators.
The vinyl backing and 600 denier nylon construction make this cat house somewhat weatherproof. An overhang keeps out rain, wind, and snow. However, it is not entirely waterproof and not as well insulated as some other cat houses, so it is best to use this cat house in a sheltered area.
Pros: Large enough for multiple cats, tool-free assembly, water-resistant structure, zippered roof, two exits, removable door flaps, heated or unheated options, certified for safety
Cons: Lightweight, poorly insulated, not waterproof, expensive
Built for one cat, this wooden house by K&H might be able to accommodate two cats. Easy to assemble, it is available in a heated and non-heated version.
The heated version comes with a heated pad that warms up when in use. The pad exceeds electrical safety standards and is completely removable. The pad should be used only with the K&H cover.
Two entrances with clear door flaps protect cats from the cold and from predators. If you are concerned about predators in your area, the second door will prevent cats from becoming trapped inside.
Made from UV protected real birch wood, this house is attractive and can be decorated and painted any way you like. Because it is not fully insulated and not waterproof, it is recommended to place this shelter in a garage, shed, or barn.
Pros: Easy to assemble, two doors, available in heated and unheated versions, customizable, safe
Cons: Might not accommodate multiple cats, not well insulated, not waterproof, no overhang, not elevated off the ground
This outdoor cat house will provide protection for feral and community cats in all seasons. Designed specifically for outdoor use, it is high quality, requires virtually no assembly, and is roomy enough for two cats.
The Kitty Tube is well insulated so that a heater is usually unnecessary. However, there is one option that comes with a low-voltage electric heating pad and a fleece cover.
With only one door, the Kitty Tube does not provide an escape exit for cats. According to the company, the Kitty Tube still protects cats from dangerous predators because the door is too small for them to enter, and cats are safer inside than they would be trying to run away from a pack of predators.
We have been using the Kitty Tube for our feral cats for years and have never had a problem with predators trapping them inside. The door comes with a removable clear flap door and awning.
The Kitty Tube is made in the USA from recycled materials. Its round shape is wind resistant, and the black color helps provide warmth. The floor, walls, and roof are insulated with flow-through foam that can be removed for cleaning. The foam layer on the floor is raised to keep moisture out of the sleeping area.
The lid can be removed easily to add straw or to clean the interior of the house. Built-in handles can be opened for ventilation in the summer or closed to retain heat in the winter.
Pros: Raised floor, foam insulation, environmentally friendly, designed for outdoor use, protects cats from predators, maintenance free, lifetime guarantee
Cons: Some are concerned about the lack of an escape exit
Community/feral cats option
The Albany outdoor cat shelter is a durable cat house designed for just one cat. Constructed to be tough and weatherproof, this cat house can be assembled without the need for tools. Although it is unheated, it promises to provide plenty of warmth throughout the winter.
A second exit allows for outdoor cats to escape from predators and prevents them from feeling trapped inside. Each door comes with a removable door flap for added security and warmth.
This cat house is made from a plastic-wood composite called ecoFLEX. Unlike wood and some types of plastic, this material is very durable and won’t crack, fade, or succumb to bugs. The double-wall panels provide great insulation for outdoor cats in all seasons.
Pros: Durable materials, good insulation, easy to assemble, weatherproof, easy to clean
Cons: Only for one cat, no awning
The Petsfit 2-Story Cat House is a well-designed house for multiple cats. The second level provides each cat with its own space to curl up. This luxury kitty condo can be assembled easily. Although it is not heated, a heating pad can be added.
A transparent escape door allows cats to escape from a predator if necessary. If desired, the lower level can be used for a cat litter pan.
Made from high-quality cedar, the Petsfit house is safe and attractive. It comes with a waterproof eave made from asphalt material in order to protect cats from rain, wind, and snow. A balcony and opening between the levels make it easy and safe for cats to move from the lower to the upper level.
Pros: Easy to assemble, two levels, asphalt roof keeps out rain and snow, escape door, easy to clean
Cons: Wood is soft and light, not fully weatherproof, best to use in sheltered area
Where should I put my outdoor cat house?
Outdoor cat houses should be placed on level ground in a quiet and calm area away from traffic and sheltered from wind and snow. If your cats are comfortable coming near your house, you can place the cat house against your home or under your porch. That will help you look after them and make sure they are okay.
Facing the cat house towards a wall and away from the direction of wind will help cats stay warm and dry. Our cat house is tucked in a corner by our back door where it is protected on three sides from the wind.
If you choose a heated cat house or one that is not waterproof, it is important to put in a sheltered, covered area. Elevating the cat house a few inches above the ground will prevent moisture from getting inside and keep cats from getting snowed in.
How do I get my cat to use an outdoor shelter?
At first, feral and community cats might be shy about going into an outdoor shelter. If you give them time, they will usually go in on their own. If they don’t, there are some ways you can encourage them to enter.
You can try sprinkling it with catnip, putting it a spot where they usually sleep, removing the top, removing door flaps, or providing more than one type of shelter. Although it took a while for our feral cats to go inside our cat house when we first put it out, they now love it and sleep in it every night.
How can I keep outdoor cats warm in winter?
In addition to getting the best outdoor cat house, there are a few other ways to help outdoor cats make it through the winter. Providing them with extra food and fresh water will ensure that they are getting enough calories, protein, and fat to keep them warm. Heated bowls will keep water and wet cat food from freezing.
Feeding them at regular times will prevent them from spending too much time out in the cold searching for food.
Spaying and neutering outdoor cats is highly recommended in order to prevent cat overpopulation, fighting, and aggressive behavior. In the end, providing outdoor, feral, and community cats with food and shelter will help to improve their quality of life.