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Outdoor Pet Shelters | Instructions for Building

Cats and dogs housed outdoors are extremely succeptible to frostbite, hypothemia and dehydration. Frostbite is a result of exposure to freezing or subfreezing temperatures. It most commonly affects the tips of the ears, the tail, the scrotum, and the feet, especially the toes. Hypothermia will take their life very quickly, especially in rain or snow when their fur is wet and can't provide as much insulation as usual. Contrary to popular belief, an animal's fur coat alone does not keep an animal warm in freezing or subfreezing temperatures when living outdoors in the elements. They need shelter, plenty of food for body fat to convert into energy to keep warm and to maintain a thick fur coat to survive the outdoors in the winter.

Providing an adequate shelter for your cat/dog such as a shed, barn or garage protects them from the wind and the elements, but it is not enough. (Garage concerns - antifreeze containing ethlene glycol can cause kidney damage or death; carbon monoxide poisoning is another potential problem for animals kept in a garage.) Your cat/dog needs a "special place" to go inside these shelters where they can conserve their body heat to keep warm. Their "special place" should be large enough for the animal or animals to curl up comfortably and generate body heat to keep the space warm. It should be insulated to help hold the heat. If the space is too large the animal can't generate enough body heat to keep it warm. See links below to build that special place.

Proper Bedding - Use straw as bedding as it stays dry and insulates. Pack your space full and put plenty of loose straw on the bottom and let the animal arrange it so she/he can burrow into it to keep warm.

No Blankets - Blankets hold moisture and cats/dogs can get cold and sick from sleeping on wet bedding.

Mylar Blankets - If you can, line the walls of your cat/dog space with a mylar reflective blanket it will help reflect the animal's body heat back into the shelter.

Food Daily - Outdoor cats/dogs need regular feeding on a daily basis. They need the calories to convert into energy to keep warm and maintain their body temperatures when its cold. Well fed cats are also better hunters. They need food on a daily basis so they can be strong enough to hunt. A cat is only successful 2-3 times out of 10 when it hunts whether its a feral or domestic cat.

If you need help coming up with a plan to keep your cat or dog dry and warm when living outside, feel free to contact Faith at 518-781-0362.

 

Online Sources for Information and Instructions for Building Shelters

Red's R10 Insulation Cat Shelter | SNAP Spay Neuter & Protect www.snap-cats.org
Claudia Allen's touching story of how she saved Red, an abandoned and neglected cat, and illustrated instructions on how to build an insulated outdoor cat shelter.

Build an Inexpensive Cat Shelter | alleycat.org
Another type of outdoor cat shelter with illustrated instructions on how to build it.

How to Build a Feral Cat Winter Shelter | neighborhoodcats.org
More illustrated instructions on how to build outdoor cat shelters.

How to Build a Winter Cat Shelter
Several examples of winter cat shelters.

Winter Cat Shelters
Instructions for building an inexpensive cat shelter

Do-It-Yourself Fence for Domestic Cats | alleycat.org
Illustrated instructions on how to build a cat fence.

 

 

 

 

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