There’s a lot of quick and easy outdoor cat houses that you can make to help keep your TNR’d feline colony warm during the winter.
Years ago we purchased the Feral Villa and it has always been a big hit with the colony cats.
Then we made another wooden, insulated cat shelter, kind of like after the style of a dog house. The cats use it year-round. Since Jim made it, we called it the Jim Villa.
This year there was a lot of new construction in my area. A lot of abandoned homes were torn down, and a new park is being built. The cats used these buildings and land for shelter, and I got worried they would have nowhere to go. So we decided to add another outdoor cat house and include heat in all of them.
I am so thankful for this decision, as this winter is also the year of the Polar Vortex, and I live in Chiberia. The winter has never been this cold since I started caring for and TNR’ing outdoor cats a decade ago. We’ve been having our own problems as the pipes have burst in our basement this year for the first time.
But I digress.
First, Jim made a new insulated cat house, using these directions from Alley Cat Allies. He modified a few of the measurements, and we call it the Alley Cat Allies Villa. Here it is in progress.
We have outdoor electric outlets and decided to take a step further this year. We ordered outdoor heating pads for all three of these houses from K&H Pet Products. The heating pads are activated by weight, and come in different sizes. We also purchased Thermo Cubes, which are plugs that make the heating pads turn off once the temperatures reach a certain level.
I love this company. I also bought their Thermo Kitty Cafe bowls to use for wet cat food and water. They’ve been a huge hit with the feral cats. The directions say not to leave them plugged in outside, but they’ve been outside working ever since I purchased them.
Bouncy Bear loves to eat and drink from all of the heated outdoor bowls.
We placed the outdoor heating pads into all three of the wooden cat shelters.
Here is the heating pad fitting nicely in the new Alley Cat Allies Villa. That little shelf is for them to go up on, but I’m not sure how necessary it is. It’s not a waste, by any means, because they can also fit under it.
I put some straw around it to add warmth and cushion for the colony cats, but honestly, they push it to the side. They are more interested in keeping warm.
We drilled a hole for the electrical cord to go out of the villa, and then plugged it into our outdoor outlets. I had to use a few extension cords because my outlets are actually up on the deck.
You can see the hole drilled here. The Alley Cat Allies Villa was also taken over almost immediately by Dice, my James Gang Colony cat in my yard.
When it gets really cold, he lets Bouncy Bear in there with him.
The entrance hole is about six inches across, and seems to be the perfect size.
Now on to the Jim Villa.
Every year, it gets cleaned out, and we add new straw and insulation. The front can be easily removed with a power drill.
We use the old insulation pieces as templates to cut out the new insulation pieces.
And here is the Jim Villa drilled closed, with the outdoor heated cat pad inside, added straw, and a drilled hole for the outlet. You can see the cats pushed the straw to the side again.
Dice also loves it.
And so does Funny Face.
Now on to the Feral Villa. This was the biggest success because even the Doggy Woggy, the opossum, approves.
But really, this is Dash’s house. Dash is the O.C.C. – Original Colony Cat. He was TNR’d in 2007 and he loves the Feral Villa. He just keeps his a low profile.
This is the inside of the Feral Villa with the heating pad and straw in it. Again, the straw is pushed to the side. I’m pretty sure Dash doesn’t share it with any other cats, and leaves if Doggy Woggy the opossum is in there, and vice versa.
The cats come and go as they please, but with this extra added heat in this brutal weather, they don’t seem to be going anywhere as much. This is the scene that usually greets me when I come home.