This article primarily concerns outdoor and stray cats. This is because indoor cats are unlikely to venture into your garage.
The interior of the house, if warm enough for human habitation, will also be cozy enough for your cat.
Outdoor cats tend to be fairly self-sufficient and only really need food, water, and shelter.
In the summer they will be unlikely to even really need shelter. This is because the warmer temperatures will make it suitable to sleep almost anywhere.
This is a different story in the winter when the temperature begins to drop. A good shelter for your cat in the winter is your garage if you do not want them to come into the house. Most garages, particularly if they are detached from your house, will have no heat source.
You cannot simply leave your cat outside to fend for themselves in the winter as it will be very cold and they can become ill. This article will run you through a few simple ways to set up your garage to be the perfect shelter for your cat when it is cold outside.
You cannot just allow them access to the garage and be done with it. The walls of a garage tend to be much thinner than house walls and there is often no internal heat source.
What You Can Do
Buy a cat kennel
There are hundreds of options for cart shelters on the internet. These include options such as cat houses, kennels, and igloos. They are made of varying fabrics and come in lots of different designs and sizes.
CAt igloos are the best choice as they are fully insulated, but all will come with a level of insulation and an entry/exit access point.
When placing this in your garage, it is important to choose the location carefully. Place it out of the way of any draughts, by a wall is usually a good option for this.
The wall acts as a windbreak, but another idea is to place the shelter in your carport. This is because they tend to have 3 sides to act as resistance to the wind.
Carports tend to keep a temperature no lower than 41 degrees Fahrenheit, so this will ensure your cat does not freeze.
Purchase a heating pad or electric heater
While your cat will definitely be warmer in the garage than outside exposed to the elements, they may still be cold.
Heating pads are relatively cheap to buy from pet stores and do not come with any associated health risks. They only stay warm for a few hours and will regularly need reheating in order to maintain a good temperature for your cat.
They have a heat retention time of up to 10 hours so are a good option for the night time.
You can also purchase a freestanding heater, although this is slightly more dangerous. The safest choice would be an oil filled radiator as these cannot catch fire and will keep your cat as safe as possible.
Don’t set the thermostat too high or allow the heater to run constantly for an extended period of time as this could cause it to overheat which could pose health risks to your cat.
Either way, a heat source is something you should really invest in for the winter months to keep your cat safe and well.
Ensure it is well fed
Cats, particularly outdoor cats, will expend a lot of energy during the winter as their bodies burn extra calories in order to maintain their internal body temperature.
Cats need a regular supply of food and clean drinking water to keep them in optimal health. A well-fed cat will be more active and will stay warmer and healthier throughout the cold winter months.
Add some layers of towels or blankets to the kennel you have got for your cat. Place some all the way around – under, on the sides, and on the top. This will help the shelter to retain its internal temperature. The thicker the layer, the better job this will do.
You should change these towels and blankets regularly as they can get dirty, damp, and cold. All of these can reduce the effectiveness of the insulation.
Do not place the kennel on the ground
As hot air rises, the ground will be the coldest place in your garage.
To try and raise the shelter’s temperature slightly, consider elevating it from the ground. This prevents the heat from escaping straight into the ground and will help your cat to retain heat better.
Dress your cat
If your cat is open to wearing extra layers, consider buying it some winter clothes. This will not be suitable for all cats, as some have extreme negative reactions to clothes.
If you try it and your cat doesn’t mind, consider buying them a jumper, jacket, or turtleneck to trap an extra layer of heat in. Plus, your cat will be the most stylish on the block!
Other things to be aware of
In cold weather, cats like to hide under car boots to stay warm. If you keep your car in your garage, knock loudly on your hood before starting your car. This will indicate to your cat it is time for them to move and they will stay safe.
Antifreeze is toxic to cats and gritting salt can cause them injury. Be aware of this and buy a pet-safe antifreeze to de-ice your car. Check their paws regularly for any caught salt or grit that could cause injury.
Regularly check inside of the kennel. Ensure the bedding or base layer of blankets is not dirty and wet, and if they are then replace immediately. Damp blankets will not keep your cat warm, they will make it colder faster.
Keep an eye on the temperature and ensure it does not reach either extreme as this could be harmful. Check your cat for signs of hypothermia such as shivers, weakness, lethargy and acute anxiety.