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#1
Old 11-29-2012, 04:55 PM
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How Cold Is Too Cold For Cats To Be Outside?

So I have this stray cat that hangs around. She belonged to the previous resident of my house that is now deceased. The son-in-law of that person lives next door but he doesn't take any responsibility for this poor homeless cat, and would let her starve to death- he apparently thinks that she can catch mice, moles, birds, whatever and drink out of the creek. So I do feed her every day. She has at least doubled in size since I moved in 6 months ago, and she is several years old.

I have my own kitty, that I always make sure is in the house at night. So I've never really paid attention to the basic guidelines of when to let your outside pets in at night. This stray cat is not litter-boxed trained, so I don't want to let her in for the whole night unless I really have to. Last night it got to 24 degrees out, so I did let her in. Nothing bad happened.

At what temperature do you think I should let her in for the night? Do I really need to do this at all- do outside cats just somehow find warm places for themselves? I doubt that.
#2
Old 11-29-2012, 04:58 PM
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Depends on her fur and metabolism, too.

Can you make an outside place for her? Just a cardboard box with a lid and some straw would help her a lot, I think.

I also wonder if cats need to be litterbox trained. Doesn't that come naturally to most cats?
#3
Old 11-29-2012, 05:01 PM
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Cats outdoors will find a place to hole up, but it wouldn't hurt to provide something.

If they haven't been litter trained at a young age it's a gamble. A used litter box will usually clue them in, if you can, borrow one from a friend (that will be a fun conversation).

Last edited by TriPolar; 11-29-2012 at 05:01 PM.
#4
Old 11-29-2012, 05:12 PM
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I don't have any straw, but I do have lot of boxes and I'm sure I can rustle up a towel or blanket. I will do that for her- I'll probably still feel bad that she's outside, but not as much.
#5
Old 11-29-2012, 05:20 PM
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I suggest a sturdy wooden box, rather than cardboard, which doesn't have much insulating quality. Go the local thrift store and buy three or four cheap wool sweaters. Put two underneath the box to get it off the porch and provide a little more insulation and put the other two inside for kitty to snuggle down into.

If your other cat tolerates the interloper (and it sounds like it does, because you've had it in at least one night already), please give serious thought to adopting the homeless cat outright. You're already feeding her. I agree that she'll probably figure out the litter box thing on her own. Give her an indoor-at-night home. You'll both feel better for it.
#6
Old 11-29-2012, 05:23 PM
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I would think it better to assume it can learn to use a box pretty quick, rather than not. Litter box "training," at least for kittens, normally consists of picking them up and placing them in the box once.

My father has a former housecat who now prefers to be semi-stray. She also looks like a wildcat, spotted and all (no pictures, bad doper). He had a cardboard box (like the Office Depot kind) and put blankets in it, and a heating pad in winter, like the kind intended for reptiles. He later bought a fancy, pricy, custom box, but she didn't cotton to it of course.

I don't know what an Asheville winter is like, although almost certainly colder than CA, so take my advice with a grain of salt. Here, it is a bit colder, but the stray cats in the neighborhood do okay in the snow. Although I don't know if anyone lets them in.
#7
Old 11-29-2012, 05:28 PM
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Yes, my other cat tolerates her. He's only 7 months old, so he tries to play with her but she really doesn't like that- she don't play. Otherwise, they get along well. Now I'm torn. I guess I will let her in at night, until something bad happens, and then I'll re-evaluate.
#8
Old 11-29-2012, 05:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayrey View Post
I suggest a sturdy wooden box, rather than cardboard, which doesn't have much insulating quality. Go the local thrift store and buy three or four cheap wool sweaters. Put two underneath the box to get it off the porch and provide a little more insulation and put the other two inside for kitty to snuggle down into.
If you can find one on the cheap, a dog house is even better. We've got one out in our backyard, lined with towels, despite not having had a dog for many years. What we do have is neighbors who occasionally fail to let their cats in over night. Wee footprints in the show have shown it has been crashed in by something four-footed a time or three.
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#9
Old 11-29-2012, 05:51 PM
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There are little cat electric heating pads. My wife's barn cats sleep on them in the winter.
#10
Old 11-29-2012, 06:21 PM
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It depends on the cat. I had a Maine Coon Cat (very fuzzy) who apparently fell asleep outside one evening. During the night, there was a 3-inch snow. The cat showed up for breakfast in the morning wearing a 3-inch mound of snow. It didn't faze him a bit.

It helps too if the cat is well fed and has a layer of fat. Still, I'd bring a cat in any time the temperature gets close to freezing.
#11
Old 11-29-2012, 06:45 PM
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cats can live outdoors year round in the northern USA. small dog house with pillows on floor is deluxe.
#12
Old 11-29-2012, 06:56 PM
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Is it possible to put a sleeping box in a garage or under a porch? We once did that for a stray that wasn't allowing us to get too close, but we wanted him to have someplace better than just under a bush. We cut a cat door opening in the outer garage door. It may have been cold in there, but at least he was out of the wind and weather.
#13
Old 11-29-2012, 07:03 PM
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We live in central Ohio and have three barn cats. One of them is 12 years old. The cats have never been indoors. (Well, not quite... every now and then one of them will sneak into the house, and I promptly throw it out. I will not tolerate a cat inside our home.)

They seem to love the cold weather. But I also built them a heated cat house. It is insulated with thick Styrofoam and contains three light bulbs. It's nice and warm inside.
#14
Old 11-29-2012, 07:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Crafter_Man View Post
But I also built them a heated cat house. It is insulated with thick Styrofoam and contains three light bulbs. It's nice and warm inside.

Aww, I knew you were a big softie.
#15
Old 11-29-2012, 07:19 PM
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Cats can live outside year-round just about anywhere in the continental US. She'll find a garage she can sneak into or a porch she can squeeze under, and probably already has a half-dozen spots all scoped out. That said, giving her a box and some towels or straw will make her life a lot more comfortable and safer. No camping out on a truck's heated engine block, etc.

Litter-training cats is fairly simple and fool-proof IME. Lock the cat and litter box together in the laundry room or a bathroom one night, and she'll figure it out. +1 if it's already been used ("What the heck, whose pee is this I'm smelling?!? I'd better get to work!").

Oh, and congratulations on the new cat.
#16
Old 11-29-2012, 07:40 PM
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Originally Posted by wheresmymind View Post
Litter-training cats is fairly simple and fool-proof IME. Lock the cat and litter box together in the laundry room or a bathroom one night, and she'll figure it out. +1 if it's already been used ("What the heck, whose pee is this I'm smelling?!? I'd better get to work!").
Cats automatically use any loose dirt/sand/other that happens to be around, whether it is outdoors or in a indoors box or tray. There's no "training" like you do with dogs.

I had a friend once, Sara, who was renting a room, and decided to get a kitten, but didn't know about cat toilet habits. She left the kitten in the room while she went to work, thinking, "She can just wait until I get home to let her out."

But when she got home, Sara found one of her shoes in the closet had been shat in. She was upset and complained to me. I said, "Did you provide a litter box for her?" Sara said, "What's that?"

So I got an empty Kleenex box, half-filled it with dirt, and set it down next to the kitten, who promptly jumped in and squatted down in the dirt, looking ecstatically happy.

Sara was amazed. "How did you know she would do that?"

"That's what cats do. It's that simple."
#17
Old 11-29-2012, 08:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Musicat View Post
Cats automatically use any loose dirt/sand/other that happens to be around, whether it is outdoors or in a indoors box or tray. There's no "training" like you do with dogs."
I know, but I learned the hard way that it's good to make absolutely certain that they know about the litterbox and view it as the best place to relieve themselves. When I first brought my kitten home he had been using the litter pan for about a week at a friend's house (the person who found him). I showed him where his litter pan was at my house, and figured that was sorted. Well the next day I discovered that while he enjoyed flopping around playing in the box and kicking litter all over the place, when it came to shitting and pissing he really preferred the pile of wool and cashmere sweaters that I had on the kitchen table in preparation for taking them to the dry cleaners.

Let's just say he's lucky he's so cute!!!
#18
Old 11-29-2012, 09:13 PM
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Originally Posted by wheresmymind View Post
Well the next day I discovered that while he enjoyed flopping around playing in the box and kicking litter all over the place, when it came to shitting and pissing he really preferred the pile of wool and cashmere sweaters that I had on the kitchen table in preparation for taking them to the dry cleaners.
You have to be sure that nothing else in the house resembles loose dirt, even in the slightest. A pile of fluffy sweaters might be too close in the abstract, although it sounds a little farfetched to me. I would expect him to enjoy getting entangled in them, then falling asleep instead. Your cat is weird.
#19
Old 11-29-2012, 09:13 PM
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If you don't want to bring the cat in, a snug box with padding will go a long way. Heat is a plus. You've got lots of recommendations already on that.

I had a cat once that wasn't litter box trained, although at the time I didn't know there was such a thing. I'd gotten a new kitten to keep my cat company. She kept doing her business by the front door; I couldn't figure out what was wrong with her. I had showed her the litterbox several times with no luck.

One day I went to the bathroom. My original cat followed me in, his kitten followed him. I sat down to do my thing and he hopped into the litterbox to do his. You could almost see the lightbulb come on over her head. She really hadn't the foggiest clue what that box was for until then. That was the end of the problem.
#20
Old 11-29-2012, 09:16 PM
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We have a cat-proofed backyard and a cat door that allows our cats access to it at will - they stop going out around 5C or so (41F). I'd say 5C.
#21
Old 11-30-2012, 07:00 AM
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Glad to read this thread as I've been feeding this stray mackeral Tabby & bringing it into the garage when nights have gotten cold. I'm allergic so I can't bring her inside. I do plan to get a heated house when I can.
#22
Old 11-30-2012, 11:42 AM
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Cats are fine with cold weather as long as they have a place to stay dry and out of the wind.

If you put out a box of some sort, don't put a towel in it; the cotton gets damp. Some sort of fleece is much better. Make the entry hole small enough that the cat has to duck his head to get in -- that helps keep the heat his body produces inside the box.

An internet search for something like "outdoor cat house" or "insulated cat house" (you need some kind of qualifier along with the words "cat house" ) will find you lots of instructions on the right sizes and materials.

There are also lots of cat houses for sale. I've had one of these for about 10 years. A feral cat was hanging around and I decided to blow the money. He moved into it about a minute and a half after I put it out, and he still lives here.

Last edited by Turble; 11-30-2012 at 11:42 AM.
#23
Old 11-30-2012, 12:21 PM
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If it's getting below freezing at night, make sure to provide warm water so kitty has access to non-iced-over water.

We feed two short-haired ferals, and it got down into the 20s (F) with snow a few winters back. They were fine. turble is right, they just need to stay dry and out of the wind.
#24
Old 11-30-2012, 08:59 PM
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Presumably the outdoor cat was spayed by her previous owner?

Also, before letting her contact your indoor cat, it would be a good idea to have her tested for feline leukemia and feline immune definciency viruses. It is very sad to lose a cat to either of those conditions. The leukemia virus is quite contagious.

Finally, if you plan to let her indoors at all, you are going to want to assume she has fleas and take appropriate countermeasures. We had a rescued kitten reward us by infesting an entire room with fleas. Remedying that situation was not fun.
#25
Old 11-30-2012, 09:26 PM
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Originally Posted by MLS View Post
Presumably the outdoor cat was spayed by her previous owner?

Also, before letting her contact your indoor cat, it would be a good idea to have her tested for feline leukemia and feline immune definciency viruses. It is very sad to lose a cat to either of those conditions. The leukemia virus is quite contagious.

Finally, if you plan to let her indoors at all, you are going to want to assume she has fleas and take appropriate countermeasures. We had a rescued kitten reward us by infesting an entire room with fleas. Remedying that situation was not fun.
Yes, she was spayed. As for the other stuff... er, that insulated box outside is looking good right now.
#26
Old 11-30-2012, 10:19 PM
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Originally Posted by laina_f View Post
It depends on the cat. I had a Maine Coon Cat (very fuzzy) who apparently fell asleep outside one evening. During the night, there was a 3-inch snow. The cat showed up for breakfast in the morning wearing a 3-inch mound of snow. It didn't faze him a bit.

It helps too if the cat is well fed and has a layer of fat. Still, I'd bring a cat in any time the temperature gets close to freezing.
My parents' Maine Coon must have a brain defect. She spends 75% of her hours in the winter completely draped over various radiator vents, and on several occasions, the stove burners shortly after they've been turned off.

Guess it depends on the cat.

Last edited by chizzuk; 11-30-2012 at 10:19 PM.
#27
Old 12-17-2012, 11:35 AM
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Bumping this thread to see if Alice the Goon or anyone else has any updates on their chilly kitties. (We had one or two nights in the upper 20s F here ... our two ferals are just fine.)
#28
Old 12-17-2012, 11:47 AM
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A neighbor and I share taking care of about 20 feral/stray cats, including TNR (trap-neuter-release.) And we're in Mchigan so it gets pretty cold in winter.

This organization has tips on caring for strays; scroll down for cold-weather tips. They also hold classes - last year we did their winter shelter building class and now have a half-dozen cozy insulated houses.

One thing: Do NOT use fabric for bedding in a shelter. Animal goes in and out, tracking moisture or snow. It won't take long for the fabric to get damp, and stay damp, in winter. If it freezes, it'll thaw back to dampness if an animal is laying on it. That's why straw is a much better option.
#29
Old 12-17-2012, 12:02 PM
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Drop the cat from 6 feet high upside down. If the air has become cold and thick enough that the cat can't spin fast enough to land on its feet its too cold.
#30
Old 12-17-2012, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by billfish678 View Post
Drop the cat from 6 feet high upside down. If the air has become cold and thick enough that the cat can't spin fast enough to land on its feet its too cold.
Cite?
#31
Old 12-17-2012, 12:10 PM
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Originally Posted by billfish678 View Post
Drop the cat from 6 feet high upside down. If the air has become cold and thick enough that the cat can't spin fast enough to land on its feet its too cold.
I don't understand how to do this. Do I have to hang from my feet?
#32
Old 12-17-2012, 12:13 PM
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When you wake to find the fire's dead, it's cool for cats.
#33
Old 12-17-2012, 12:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billfish678 View Post
Drop the cat from 6 feet high upside down. If the air has become cold and thick enough that the cat can't spin fast enough to land on its feet its too cold.
do this over deep snow so the cat doesn't get injured when it can't right itself.
#34
Old 12-17-2012, 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Musicat View Post
You have to be sure that nothing else in the house resembles loose dirt, even in the slightest. A pile of fluffy sweaters might be too close in the abstract, although it sounds a little farfetched to me. I would expect him to enjoy getting entangled in them, then falling asleep instead. Your cat is weird.
I have another weird cat. She's peed in boxes of clothes, in the clothes that fall off the hangers and land on the closet floor, and in a messy pile of paperwork stacked up on a desk (these incidents were connected to a fight for dominance with other cats).

She's like my greatest inspiration for keeping things tidy and put away fast. It's better than watching Hoarders.
#35
Old 12-17-2012, 01:05 PM
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When the Indians send signals from the rocks above the pass.
#36
Old 12-17-2012, 01:09 PM
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Originally Posted by johnpost View Post
do this over deep snow so the cat doesn't get injured when it can't right itself.
As an aside, is there anyone who has a cat in a place where it snows who hasn't thrown their cat in a snowbank at least once? There's some cheap entertainment!
#37
Old 12-17-2012, 01:25 PM
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go to Rural King . they sell these huge clear bags of small chunks of corn cobs. A bag 4 x the size of a cat litter bag can be had for $4 on sale, $7 normal. It is made to be ground insulation for outside animals. Walmart sells a bag about half the size and price.
I found an 1/2 of old plastic dog house, (so the opening is flush to ground), and used half a bag of the ground up corn cobs for a floor.
The stray cat uses it as a dry, warm home to snooze in. I placed it at the edge of the woods. The cat comes out daily, and you can see it pouncing on mice in the huge yard where it is near the woods. Win-Win.

Also, after weeks of coaxing, I took in a stray kitten prior to winter 3 yrs ago. like another poster mentioned, just one intro to my other cats catbox, and it used it ever since. Took her in for a check up, shots, meds, after shampoo with Dawn (yes, Dawn is well known for killing / ridding fleas in seconds)...she got along fine with other cats from day one....3 yrs later, one big happy family.
before i took her in, a neighbors dog got her in his grip and body slammed her into a wooden fence...suspect rib damage as she hates to be picked up or have rib cage touched...while the other two cats try at every chance to get out for some sun and grass, this one will refuses to ever set foot outside again. hid from all humans the first months, but now naps on my lap every time I sit down.

PS tip: use 50% of the corn cob chunks, below 50% of regular cat litter...absorbs liquids and odors....big plus: it makes the weight of emptying the litter box into a trash bag half as much to haul....plus it is a cost savings

Last edited by cougar58; 12-17-2012 at 01:30 PM.
#38
Old 12-17-2012, 02:17 PM
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Originally Posted by johnpost View Post
do this over deep snow so the cat doesn't get injured when it can't right itself.
1) Make toast
2) Butter that toast or put jam on it
3) Tie toast, topping side down, to cat's belly
Now they'll always land the right way down.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cat Whisperer View Post
As an aside, is there anyone who has a cat in a place where it snows who hasn't thrown their cat in a snowbank at least once? There's some cheap entertainment!
Yeah, but he deserve(s/d) it. Cats in the snow is one place where you notice: holy crap, when cats walk, their hind foot lands in the exact same place as their front just was, without much effort.
#39
Old 12-17-2012, 02:21 PM
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Originally Posted by wheresmymind View Post
I know, but I learned the hard way that it's good to make absolutely certain that they know about the litterbox and view it as the best place to relieve themselves. When I first brought my kitten home he had been using the litter pan for about a week at a friend's house (the person who found him). I showed him where his litter pan was at my house, and figured that was sorted.
Another issue that may or may not have been the case in your situation is that sometimes new cat is afraid to use litterbox of established cat. usually it is recommended to have multiple litterboxes so cats can avoid committing the "faux paw" of intruding on each other's marked territory in that way.
#40
Old 12-17-2012, 02:40 PM
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We've had a few nights of temps in the 20's, and I have been letting her in on those nights, and I made her a warm wooden box in the woodshed outside for warmer nights. But the last couple of cold nights, she woke me up early horking like she was going to puke, and I've had to race her outside risking getting puked on, so... looks like the box from now on!
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