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.

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?

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).

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

There are little cat electric heating pads. My wife’s barn cats sleep on them in the winter.

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.

cats can live outdoors year round in the northern USA. small dog house with pillows on floor is deluxe.

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.

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.

Aww, I knew you were a big softie. :smiley:

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.

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.”

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.:mad:

Let’s just say he’s lucky he’s so cute!!! :smiley:

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.

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.

We have a cat-proofed backyard and a cat door that allows our cats access to it at will - they stop going out around 5ºC or so (41ºF). I’d say 5ºC. :slight_smile: