If you are looking for the best outdoor cat shelter for your beloved moggy, or are wanting to keep a community of feral felines warm and cosy as we head into the heart of winter, you are in the right place. In this article, we review our top 7 picks of the best outdoor cat houses and answer all your questions about keeping outdoor cats safe.
To help make you with your decision, we have included a really handy buying guide, and our popular frequently asked questions section right at the end.
Our Top 7 Outdoor Cat Shelters at a Glance
What is an Outdoor Cat Shelter?
Before we go any further, it is essential to understand what an outdoor cat shelter is. They are also called cat houses, hotels, chalets or shelters, but they all do the same thing… providing outdoor cats with warmth and protection during the wet and cold weather and a cool and comfy spot to rest in the summer months.
With a wide variety to choose from, outdoor shelters are suitable for pet cats that like spending time outside and stray or feral cats that need protection from the elements and predators.
What Kind Of Shelter Do Outdoor Cats Need?
Depending on your (and your cat’s) needs, there are all sorts of outdoor shelters to choose from. There are basic models to house feral cats in your neighbourhood, as well as options with microchip doors for cats that like their privacy.
In our opinion, any shelter is better than nothing, especially if it is for feral or stray cats, but we do suggest you choose one that suits the circumstances. For example, if you are providing a safe place for a colony of feral cats, you will need a large shelter without a microchip door. But if it is for your precious pet, then an outdoor house with a microchip door is your best option.
What Are The Benefits Of An Outdoor Cat Shelter?
With over one million stray and feral cats in the UK, there are several reasons why an outdoor shelter is a good idea. For example, rescue centres are unable to help every cat in need, which is why they have a programme called TNR (Trap, Neuter, Return). This involves safely trapping street cats, neutering or spaying them and then returning them to the community. Outdoor shelters don’t only provide them somewhere to rest when the temperatures drop, they also give them a safe place to recover from this procedure.
But they are not only used for homeless cats. If your feline likes spending time outside, it is definitely worth getting an outdoor home.
Other benefits include:
- During the summer months, outdoor houses provide cats with shelter from the sun.
- If you don’t have a cat flap, you can rest easy knowing your kitty has a safe place to stay outside.
- Provides all cats with a place to hide when they feel threatened.
- Allows nursing cats to feed and care for their kittens in a safe and secure environment.
Reviews of the Top 7 Outdoor Cat Shelters
If you are thinking about getting an outdoor shelter, look at the reviews of our top 7 picks. We have got something for every situation, and budget.
1. Outdoor Cat House Self Heating Kennel with One Way Privacy Window
The Outdoor Cat House Self Heating Kennel with One Way Privacy Window is an excellent choice if you want a quality product at an affordable price. This wooden shelter is hand-made in the UK and has a one-way window that allows your cat to keep an eye on the outside world but giving it the privacy it needs.
It is especially suitable for our cold winters thanks to the self-heating feature and is also waterproof. The PetSafe® cat flap allows for easy access, while the lift-up hinged roof makes cleaning a breeze. And the three air holes situated at the back of the shelter promotes airflow to prevent overheating.
This is the perfect choice for one cat, whether it is yours or a stray.
2. Outdoor Microchip Self Heating Cat House Kennel with One Way Privacy Window
With a 4.8 star rating, the Outdoor Microchip Self Heating Cat House Kennel with One Way Privacy Window comes highly recommended. With the exact same features as the product reviewed above, you know you are getting a quality cat shelter built to the UK’s exacting standards.
The only difference is that this particular model comes with a microchip-controlled cat flap. This means it is a better option for pets that are microchipped. Keep in mind that strays, ferals and predators won’t be able to get in, so your precious feline will be safe.
3. XL Outdoor Cat House Self Heating Kennel with One Way Privacy Window
Another very popular choice is the XL Outdoor Cat House Self Heating Kennel with One Way Privacy Window. This one scores an almost perfect score on Trustpilot and is one of our best sellers. Waterproof and made using quality wood, it is suitable for our cold and wet weather. The house is delivered fully built; however, you will need to screw the legs in.
If you are looking to house more than one cat, this is your best option.
4. XL Outdoors Microchip Self Heating Cat House Kennel with One Way Privacy Window
Our XL Outdoors Microchip Self Heating Cat House Kennel with One Way Privacy Window is the perfect choice if you are wanting to provide your outdoor cats with an outdoor house. As with all our products, it is made in the UK and is water-resistant with a felt-lined graded roof.
It also has a hinged lift up lid for easy and convenient cleaning and maintenance, and because it is self-heating you don’t need to worry about your pets being outside on cold, winter days. The catnip stick will encourage the most reluctant of cats into the shelter.
5. Feral Stray Cat House Kennel With Thermal Barrier Flap
Perfect for feral cats or strays, the Outdoor Cat House Kennel With Thermal Barrier Flap features a thermal barrier flap for cats that are nervous or unfamiliar with cat flaps. The shelter is water-resistant, and it has a felt-covered roof, which is graded.
Affordably priced, this is an excellent outdoor shelter if you are taking care of a community of feral cats or are involved in a TNR programme.
6. Outdoor Cat Hotel With Look Out Lounge & Mezzanine Sleeping Deck
The Outdoor Cat Hotel With Look Out Lounge & Mezzanine Sleeping Deck is perfect for the kitty that likes the finer things in life. It has a mezzanine level, a one-way privacy window as well as a PetSafe® cat flap. Keep in mind though that this model isn’t self-heating so you might want to add suitable bedding. Take a look at our self-heating blankets.
Like most of the other outdoor shelters reviewed here, this luxurious hotel has a lift up hinged door for easy cleaning and maintenance, and it’s built to withstand the UK weather.
7. Outdoor Cat Chalet | Cat Shelter All Year Round House
Another affordable option from H&R is the Outdoor Cat Chalet | Cat Shelter All Year Round House. Because there is not a cat flap, it is perfect for strays or pets, and the porch area ensures the inside of the shelter stays dry at all times.
We like the apex designed roof for maximum water runoff and that it is treated with an anti-bacterial marcide coating which prevents diseases spreading. Like our other products that aren’t self-heating, you will want to put some warm bedding inside during the colder months.
With a 4.8 star rating on Trustpilot, you can’t go wrong with this outdoor cat house.
Outdoor Cat House Buying guide
If you are buying an outdoor shelter for your pet or helping a stray cat during the chilly winter months, you need to know what to look for. In this section, we are covering the most essential features to keep in mind when choosing one.
Remembering what to look for when buying an outdoor cat shelter will make the process easier, and help you find the best one for your needs.
One of the first things you need to consider is what kind of weather you plan to protect cats from. In the UK, for example, you definitely want a waterproof cat shelter or water resistant, is insulated and has a self-healing feature.
But you also need to think about where you will be placing the shelter. If you are going to set it up under a porch or outhouse, then insulation and water-resistance won’t be that important. However, if it is going to be placed in an open, unshaded area, the house must be built to withstand our seasons, including sun, wind, rain and snow.
A raised shelter is a better option if you are going to be putting it on the ground. This doesn’t only prevent flooding, it also keeps your cat warmer inside the house.
Size is another important consideration when choosing the best outdoor cat house. Like our XL models, Larger shelters are spacious and can accommodate two or three cats at a time. If you are looking to get a microchip outdoor house for your pets, it is best to get one that comfortably houses one or two.
The number of cats you look after will also determine whether or not you need a self-heating shelter. Overheating is a concern if two or more cats will be using the shelter, which is why we recommend getting a few smaller shelters, like our Outdoor Cat House Kennel With Thermal Barrier Flap, rather than one big outdoor house. This will prevent any turf wars from breaking out.
Ease of assembly is essential, especially if you don’t have the time or inclination to build an outdoor shelter from scratch. Of the products reviewed here, only the Outdoor Cat Chalet | Cat Shelter All Year Round House doesn’t come fully assembled. However, this shouldn’t put you off as it comes with easy to follow instructions. All the other models just need to have the legs attached.
Make sure the cat shelter is predator-proof. After all, it is one of the main reasons you are getting one. While foxes aren’t usually a risk, next door’s Fido is a potential threat as well as other cats and depending on where you live, even snakes.
Cats feel safe when they can keep an eye on their surroundings, which is why our outdoor shelters have one-way privacy windows. They are also raised off the ground, so your cat has a better lookout point.
The best thing about the shelters reviewed here is that they all have lift up hinged doors to make cleaning super easy. And they are all made from a high-quality timber that has been treated to withstand our weather.
For inside the shelter, we suggest using an animal-friendly disinfectant. This can also be used to clean the food and water bowls. And don’t forget to regularly clean the bedding, or replace it when needed.
Finally, to maintain the house’s longevity, we suggest applying a pet-friendly treatment once a year to prevent dampness and mould.
Frequently Asked Questions About Outdoor Cat Houses
Is An Outdoor Cat Shelter Necessary?
Yes, an outdoor cat shelter is necessary, especially if your cat likes spending a lot of time outside or if you know there are strays in your area. Not only is it a safe place for your pet to rest, but it is also a base where stray and feral cats can shelter from the cold and rain and escape predators.
What is the difference between a microchip cat flap and a standard cat flap? And which is best?
Outdoor cat shelters with microchip cat flaps work using your cat’s ID microchip. These only unlock for your pet, keeping strays and other animals out. How you plan on using the shelter will determine which one is best.
Obviously, if you are looking after feral cats, you will want an outdoor house that allows any cat inside. However, if it is for your pet, you will definitely want one that restricts access.
Does size really matter?
Again, this depends on how you plan on using the shelter. If it is for one cat, then smaller is better. But if you are housing two or three cats, you will want a larger sized house. Remember, the smaller the shelter, the better the insulation.
How do cats stay warm inside the outdoor shelter?
It depends really. For really cold climates, we suggest getting a self-heating outdoor shelter. If this isn’t an option, then a self-heating blanket is the next best thing. But if neither is possible, cats will snuggle up and keep each other warm.
What can I use to insulate the outdoor house?
As already mentioned, a self-heating blanket will help keep cats warm inside the shelter. But you can also use straw as a cost-effective method of insulation. Do not use hay as this absorbs moisture, as do towels and fabric blankets.
Should I feed stray cats?
Feral cats can take care of themselves during the warmer months, but when the temperatures drop, they need to conserve energy and finding food becomes more difficult. Kittens, sickly and older cats are at more of a risk. This is why feeding stray and feral cats during the winter months is vital. It’s a good idea to set up a food station near the shelter to help outdoor cats.
Can I build an outdoor shelter?
If DIY is your thing, then, of course, you can build your own outdoor cat shelter. It is pretty straight forward, and if you are taking care of a large number of cats, it could prove more cost-effective. But if time isn’t on your side, we suggest the Outdoor Cat House Kennel With Thermal Barrier Flap.
Where should I place an outdoor shelter? And how do I encourage stray cats to use it?
It is best to place an outdoor shelter in a quiet spot, away from too much foot traffic and noise. You also want to put it so that it is facing away from rain and snow. Placing lots of straw inside the shelter will encourage strays to use it, or if you are choosing one of our products, they have a catnip stick that will gently lure them in.
Whether it’s your outdoorsy cat or strays you’re looking after, we think an outdoor shelter is absolutely essential. Not only does it give you peace of mind knowing your pet has a safe place to retreat, but it also means you are making the lives of feral cats so much easier.
Hopefully, our reviews and buying guide have helped you in your search for the best outdoor cat house. Please feel free to share this article with your moggy-loving friends and family and if we haven’t answered your question in our FAQ section, leave a comment below or get in touch via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.