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Lowest Temperature to Allow Cat to Sleep Outside?

128821 Views 14 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  ArtNJ
We rescued a 3 year old stray (not a feral) that had been on her own for some time. For various reasons, including the cat's strongly expressed wishes, she has remained an indoor/outdoor cat. She does not like going outside when its raining, but seems unfazed by the cold and gets annoyed if she cant go out. She does get over it easily enough, but its clear she wants to go out if allowed to do so. I have several times let her out when its a bit below freezing during the day, on the theory that she knows how to get our attention and get readmitted if its bothering her, and she doesnt seem to change her behavior at all. She has also been out on nights when it might fall to say 28 degrees without any ill effects or diminished desire to outside the next day.

We have no outdoor shelter for her, and dont really know where she hangs out outside. She is a classic tabby domestic short-hair, with a thickened winter coat.

What do you think the temperature cut-off should be? We are in bed by 11, and it obviously can fall 5-10 degrees after that, so its not like we can trust her to come back before 11 if she is cold.

I'm not likely to build her a shelter, so its really a question of just whether to let her go out for the night when its going to fall below X temperature.
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Thank you for rescuing and taking care of the stray cat.
In so far as how cold is too cold: cats are survivors and know where to find the warm(er) places. Bushes, near buildings where there is some escaping heat. My cat survived a 20 inch snow storm before being rescued. I think it in part depends on how healthy the cat is, how well he is being fed.
You can buy discs that you microwave for around five minutes and are suppose to stay nice and warm for up to 10 hours. Some posters say the disks stay warm for ten hours, I found it to be less than that. You can place the disk any where, perhaps in a cardboard box, with a nice blanket in it near your house. Then she can decide to go in the box or not. I feed a feral cat colony and when possible, feed them warm food. Don't know if it helps keep them warm, but I like to think it does!
The discs sound interesting, do you recall the name? Thanks! I am with you, I assume she would be fine outside regardless because she is healthy and young. . . but the low was 20 last night, and I dont want to push it. Besides, even if she was fine I bet she would really regret being locked out till morning in that cold :)
I have heard that humans can get hypothermia at 50F, without windchill. Though I don't know what sort of outfit that would be in (I would assume just a regular shirt & jeans type).
I don't let Xanthe go out if it's below 40... but then, I like to pamper my pets! There is a little box for her, made of insulating styrofoam (the kind that meat is shipped in) with straw in it, but it's only warm after her body heat gets it that way...but then it stays relatively warm from the straw/foam.
I also have these boxes for the ferals, though obviously they stay out all the time in temps that got to 5F last year! I think Disco got some frostbite on her paw, as she had a weird dark gray spot that sloughed off after a week or so... I felt so bad for her!
I cut off at 60 for the dogs. Anything below that and they only get a quick go pee and come back instead of their usual hour of playtime before coming in for bed. For the kitten, anything below 50 she has to come in like it or not because I'm too scared of a sudden temperature drop, but I'm in Texas so my definition of cold is very different. I don't think you can get blood thinner than mine.
Our cats are all indoor, but way back in the 80's & 90's we had an outdoor cat. They are survivors and will find warm places. Here it can get to -40F before windchill. That's fairly rare, however it's common to have daytime temps at -13F and lower. Ginger lived to be 20, outside all her life.

Now as an adult, I know better, and if I had an indoor/outdoor kitty, I think I would cut it off at the 10F level. Anything colder than that I would imagine she wouldn't want to go outside.

I guess everyone's version of cold is different depending on where they live lol.
That's for sure! I was worried about the outdoor/feral kitties that hang out next door, but the girl who sits next to me said where she grew up, there were feral cats (in Utah) and they were just fine.

It gets down to the 30's and 40's here, though. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrr!
Midnight, the wild cat, has an insulated outside house under the porch and an insulated house in the garage that has a heating pad. He roams day and night in all weather. Now that it is cold, we lock him in the garage at night if he returns. If he doesn't, he will use the outside house. After an early breakfast, he leaves again. He goes out in below freezing and even below zero weather for hours in the snow. Drives me crazy that he won't stay where it is warm, but he is just not bothered by the cold. He has been doing this for the 2+ years he has been here.
my outdoor cat has a low level heated bed in insulated house in his kennel. my parents semi feral colony live on their patio that has a roof above,, several insulated houses and a heated bird bath are placed there.. the rest of the area is stacks (4-5ft tall) of fire wood, most of the wood is covered with tarps for protection from the blowing snow(this is mn.)the colony started with yeti's mom having kittens in the woodpile before they even knew about her.. the bird bath was there and acted as a source of not frozen water.. the cats live out there 24-7 , -20f is not uncommon out there.. cats can handle the cold if a safe place is available(the fact that they didn't have to go far for water helped here) yeti and his sister were playing out there at 10f at 3months old..
The discs are called Pet Supply Imports SnuggleSafe Pet Heating Pad, available at Amazon and other outlets. [ame][/ame] [hope I linked correctly]
I think it also depends on how use the animal is to living outside; Ritz, my strictly indoor cat, would not fare well. The ferals I take care do survive, and even in this weather, dumpster dive for food.
An interesting post. I'm kind of amazed at how much adversity the ferals can endure and winter time can be a stressor. The feral/strays that I observe don't appear to have any problem being outside when it's cold and it does get cold here in S. Michigan. It seems to me that as long as they can get out of the cold/wind/wet when they want to then they are fine. They can and do sleep in the unheated part of the garage (temp right around freezing) laying on just a pad. Two of them, however can be found on occasion sleeping in front of the small wall furnace and all of them generally prefer to be in the heated corner.

My unemotional self believes that, as animals, they can "take it". Them as can't for whatever reason, don't survive. My emotional side believes that they will "take" whatever comfort they can. Kinda like people, don't 'cha know.
Forgot to mention that my avatar is Midnight, the wild cat, snoozing on a rug on top of the recycle bin on the South side of the garage on a sunny day.

Temperature - 6 degrees below zero!
103 centigrade
Forgot to mention that my avatar is Midnight, the wild cat, snoozing on a rug on top of the recycle bin on the South side of the garage on a sunny day.

Temperature - 6 degrees below zero!
Maybe he's frozen fast to the rug ;)

I went to the U at St. Cloud for 3 yrs. I sympathize with Minnesotans come Jan-Feb and I definitely would NOT like to be a feral cat there.
Thanks all, I guess we can let her out more than I thought. She will be pleased.

She is tolerant of my older cat, they have even started to play a little (6+ months later). However, when she gets hungry she turns mean and hits him. Unfortunately, I forgot to feed them this morning, hope my old boy didnt get beat up too bad, lol.
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