If you have a feral cat who’s called your house home or an outdoor cat of your own—you might want to consider an outdoor cat shelter. Not all days glow with sunshine, which means wet and cold kitties stuck outside in the rain or snow. Adding a cat shelter to your porch, balcony, in your garage, barn, or as a backyard addition can provide both warmth and protection for your cat.
The best cat shelter will protect against the elements—rain, wind, cold, snow, and predators. Read on to learn about the features and factors to consider as you shop for cat houses, and find out why the following models are among the best cat shelters available for your feline friends.
- BEST OVERALL: K&H Pet Products Outdoor Heated Kitty House
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Petmate Barnhome III, UP to 15LBS
- BEST FOR SMALL CATS: CO-Z Topnotch Weatherproof Outdoor Wooden Cat Shelter
- BEST DESIGN: PETYELLA Heated cat Houses for Outdoor Cats in Winter
- BEST WEATHERPROOF: Aivituvin Cat House Outdoor Cat Shelter Weatherproof
- BEST TWO-STORY: Petsfit 2-Story Weatherproof Outdoor Cat House
- BEST FOR INDOOR CATS: Ruff ‘n Ruffus Portable Foldable Pet Playpen
- BEST FOR TWO CATS: Kitty City Outdoor Cabin Cat House, Water Resistant
What to Consider When Buying the Best Cat Shelter
When shopping for the best cat shelter, consider the cat’s size, the number of kitties who might try to fit inside, and whether or not they all get along. Also factor in the seasons and weather conditions they’ll use the house for—sunny, warm weather or cold, wet weather. Will you place the house close to the garden, on a porch, in a garage, or under a special outdoor upgrade where it has additional protection? Insulation and weatherproofing will play a key role. You’ll also want a cat shelter that’s easy to set up and to clean, so keep the features below in mind when shopping for the best cat shelter for your feline friends.
When looking at the size of a cat shelter, there are a few factors to consider: the cat’s size, the number of cats who will use the house, and whether they all get along.
Single cat houses will work fine for most cats, but if your kitty weighs more than average, you may need something bigger. Ideally, your cat should be able to comfortably turn around in. Remember too, that if the house has too much room, it will take longer to warm up and keep warm.
For multiple cats that all get along and typically sleep together indoors, look for a cat condo that provides enough space for two or more cats. They’ll be able to warm up the available space together.
For those looking to purchase a house for multiple feral cats or for household cats that aren’t the best of friends, you might want to consider buying more than one kitty home.
Insulation comes in various forms. Some houses come with heating pads or sleeping mats to provide extra heat on colder days. If you purchase a home that doesn’t have a heating pad, you can buy them separately. Place these houses in a dry, safe place as they should not come into contact with water.
Some houses have padded insulated fabric that helps to hold in the heat, and some materials, like wood, are natural insulators. Regardless, it’s a good idea to add insulation, like a bed, blankets, or other insulation, like straw for nesting, during colder months.
Location, location, location—as they say. It’s best to keep cat shelters in dry, sheltered locations for those who will use them on rainy and snowy days—such as a porch, a garage, or a balcony.
Apart from the cover, materials and construction play a crucial role in weatherproofing. Cat houses typically come in three materials: wood, plastic, or fabric.
A wood house provides fair weatherproofing. It protects against rain, wind, cold, and snow. Many wood homes come with asphalt roofs that offer additional protection against the rain. Wood, however, is vulnerable to rot with continued water exposure.
Plastic has good wind-blocking properties but doesn’t give off a whole lot of heat during colder months. If you’re planning on using a plastic house, you’ll want to add a heating pad or blankets during cold snaps.
Fabric, even water-resistant fabric, isn’t great in direct rain and can become soaked very quickly. Most fabric houses come with heating pads, and they make an excellent choice for providing a warm and cozy space in cold weather when placed under a porch or in a garage.
As well, a house that is elevated off the ground will dry quicker and will help preserve heat.
Any outdoor cat shelter will require assembly so look for one that won’t take an engineering degree. There are plastic and wood houses that snap together and others that require screws. Some homes come with pre-drilled screw holes to make assembly easier.
Fabric houses usually have hook-and-loop fasteners or zippers. They’re generally effortless to build. Look at the product details so that you have an idea of the commitment you’re signing up for before buying.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Eventually, the house will need to be cleaned, so disassembly or simple access comes into play as well. Keeping the house clean and ensuring there are no bugs or other contaminants in the home that can cause harm, will keep the cat comfortable and healthy.
Wood houses might have doors that open to allow access to the inside for washing. Some also have slide out floors that are easy to wipe down. Most fabric homes can be spot-cleaned and plastic houses can be hosed down. Some heating pad covers are machine washable but be sure to read the instructions before washing the heating pad itself.
Plastic houses can fade in direct sunlight. Wood homes will require maintenance after a few years—a fresh coat of paint, for instance—which means sanding too. If you have cats who love to scratch, a fabric house might not be the ideal choice.
Our Top Picks
The following outdoor cat shelters take into consideration all of the criteria mentioned above. These models are among the best cat shelters in their categories.
Set up this outdoor kitty house in a garage, on a deck, on the porch, or in a barn. The heated, fleece-lined pet bed provides warmth throughout the year, and the water-resistant vinyl and nylon construction protects against the elements. The bed heats when the cat uses the bed—and heats only to its body temperature.
Attach the removable, clear door flaps when the forecast calls for rain or leave them on to provide an extra shield against the snow and the wind. The outdoor shelter also has roof overhangs in the front and the back for additional shielding. The cat shelter comes with two exits to allow escape from potential predators.
Assemble the house by attaching the walls and the roof with the hook-and-loop fasteners—no tools required. To clean the house, simply remove the top and wipe down the inside with a wet cloth. Clean the heated bed using a damp towel or sponge with mild dish soap. Wash the bed cover on a gentle cycle, in cold water, and line dry.
Providing a shelter for feral, neighboured, or household cats can be affordable. This plastic outdoor cat shelter from Petmate will not rot or mold over time—and it will never need painting. The barn-shaped house has a raised interior floor that helps keep a cat weighing up to 15 pounds dry and has an extended roof guard to keep the rain away. On hot days, the rear ventilation promotes air circulation.
The house fastens in seconds with a two-piece snap-together assembly. To clean, simply spray it down with a garden hose.
Made of cedar, this cat shelter from CO-Z provides a sturdy outdoor home for smaller cats. The anti-corrosion finish ensures the structure will provide shelter and protection for years and through different weather conditions. The roof offers heat insulation, waterproofing, and heat resistance, through its wood, asphalt, and gravel, three-layer design.
This house comes with the necessary parts for construction and instructions for easy assembly. Once built, open the roof for straightforward access for cleaning. Use the metal stand to keep the top open.
Once open, the front door acts as a ramp for a cat to come and go as she pleases. The inside has enough space for a smaller feline to play, move around, and sleep. For protection against predators—lock the front door with the rotary knob. The back wall of the house has two air vents to keep fresh air coming in and a sleeping kitty happy and safe inside.
The exterior pattern of this cat shelter meows adorable. Its brick print, faux shingled roof, and pretend windows decorating the walls add a touch of character to a space. Set the cat house up in a barn, on a porch, in a garage, or even on a balcony.
The water-resistant roof helps keep cats dry in the rain, and the heat mat helps keep them warm on colder nights. The heating mat comes with a 1-meter chew-proof cord and a 4-meter extension cord. It also comes with a plug-in timer for setting up a schedule that coincides with daily routines. This cat shelter also boasts two doors for safety to ensure predators don’t have the opportunity to trap a cat inside.
Simple to assemble with the hook-and-loop fasteners, just stick the walls together and place the roof on top when finished.
This outdoor luxury kitty getaway offers two stories of weather-protected shelter. The asphalt roof and door overhangs help to weatherproof the house and protect against rain and snow. The raised floor with four rubber feet, stands level on most ground surfaces and helps keep the inside warm and dry. Both doors have flaps to allow for even more protection against the elements.
With a door on each floor, a cat can escape from either level if a predator comes in. The door on the second level boasts a ledge outside the house to allow a cat to do a little sunbathing. The second floor also sports a plexiglass window that lets in light and keeps drafts out. Each floor has a large side door that opens to allow access for easy cleaning. The middle floor also slides out to wipe it down.
The house is constructed from 100 percent natural fir wood. Assembly is required.
This two-story cat house from Petsfit provides both an indoor and outdoor lounging area. The main level of the house allows a cat to find shelter and privacy in an enclosed space. The front entrance has a small asphalt overhang to protect against rain, and the back entrance provides an escape route in the event of a predator attack. The raised floor keeps the inside dry on rainy days. On sunny days, a cat can climb the stairs to the second floor, lie out in the open, enjoy the heat, and still find protection against the rain under the asphalt roof.
The solid structure can hold up to three cats weighing a total of 18 pounds. The house has an anti-rot cedar construction tested to last up to 3 years outdoors. The pre-drilled holes help make assembly simple.
The floorboards are not butted up against each other, and this supplies ventilation on hot days. To provide insulation on colder days, place a blanket, a pillow, or a heat mat inside the house (not included).
Give an indoor cat some fresh air in the warmer weather using this collapsible playpen from Ruff’n Ruffus. The zippered top and door and the attached floor mat assure a safe and secure outdoor environment. The protected seams, reinforced corners, and water-resistant materials ensure sturdy construction.
The playpen boasts a roomy 8-panel design that allows for one or more cats. This house pops up in seconds with no assembly required. The portable and lightweight design makes it ideal for carrying from the house to the yard or for bringing along on vacation or camping trips. When indoors, remove the top and watch the cats jump in and out. The door can also be unzippered and left open while indoors. The playpen folds flat for storage when not in use.
This outdoor cabin from Kitty City provides enough space for two cats to hide out and rest on a sunny day or during rainfall. The kitty lair has two cubes stacked on top of each other. Each cube has an entry and an exit to provide an escape from predators.
The walls have double layer insulation with a water-resistant outer fabric that protects against rain and cold. Each doorway also comes with removable flaps to provide even more protection against the weather. The folding walls will set up and take down in seconds.
FAQs About Cat Shelters
For more information about cat shelters, check out these answers to some of the most frequently asked questions. If additional concerns arise, contact the manufacturer.
Q. How can I keep outdoor cats warm during cold weather?
You can place an outdoor cat house on your porch, in your barn, or in another covered structure. Be sure to put a bed, a heating pad, or other nesting material, such as straw, to help keep the house warm.
Q. What kind of shelter do outdoor cats need?
Look for something that will protect them from the elements and that will keep them both warm and dry when it’s not sunny and beautiful outside. The house should also fit the cat in question. One big enough they can turn around in, but not so big that they can’t get warm inside and stay warm. If more than one cat will use the house and they don’t get along, you should look at purchasing more than one home.
Q. Should outdoor cat shelters have two doors?
Yes. A cat shelters with two doors allows the cat to escape if a predator comes and threatens them.
Q. How long do outdoor cat shelters last?
It depends on how well you care for the house and where you place it in your yard. A home that’s left outside all year long won’t last as long as one on a covered porch or placed inside a barn or a garage. Cleaning and maintaining the house also plays a key role in longevity.