Need Info About Outdoor Cats

Updated on November 01, 2010
M.D. asks from Rockport, TX
19 answers

We recently rescued a cat from the park. I looked for the owner but no luck. She is a very sweet kitten (and I normally dont like cats) We have decided to keep her as an outdoor cat- she will at least keep any wild animals away. (We live near a field) Anyways, We are dog people and are clueless when it comes to cats. My question is what is your cats set up outside. We have her a little bed with her food and water but what about when its cold or rains- where does your cat go? She cannot come inside at all- 3 dogs and Im allergic to most indoor cats. Also, how much does your cat eat. Right now this poor kitty eats non-stop, she is pretty underweight so we just keep feeding her. Any helpful cat tips would be appreciated.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I have 2 outdoor cats - they find places to go when it is cold - I feed them twice a day - and I do worm and flea them - they are both fixed.
I also live in a wamish climate, so it doesn't get cold that often.
My cats eat about 2 cups of food each a day.
They do have a cat bed - actually a cat carrier, each with a blanket, that is a warm dry place they can go - they rarely use them

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answers from Chicago on

I think you should try to find the kitty a nice indoor home. Cats in the wild don't survive long and they are exposed to all sorts of bad things: weather, other animals, parasites, cars, ticks, fleas, etc. You wouldn't want your kids playing with that, right?

And what if she used to be a housecat and now can't come in? I think it would be much kinder to find her a nice home.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

First, take this kitty to the vet right away! You rescued her but you don't know what she's had to suffer. You may have to make some expenditures to get her healthy again (and to my mind it would be worth it). Ask your vet about her eating.

You do need a shelter for the kitty. She may be up against bigger critters out there than mice, and even Texas gets bad weather! Can she come in just at night? Or can she stay in your garage? We had a cat who lived in ours a couple of years (because one of our indoor kitties was so territorial). He had a comfortable bed in an open cat crate, food and water supplied by the faithful wait staff (us), and even a little ceramic heater for when the temperatures dropped. What we didn't have in the garage was a cat door; you might think about installing one.

Even if she must be an outdoor kitty, socialize her as much as possible. Teach her to trust you, and give her lots of attention and love. And treats.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

Thank you for giving a home to this cat.

You can give the cat free choice food right now, or follow the package directions for the cat food. Since it's a kitten, get "Kitten Chow" for growing cats; when you think the cat is about 1 year old, switch to an adult food.

Don't leave food out--this will draw skunks, mice, rats, possibly birds, possums and raccoons to your doorstep. And please don't expect the cat to chase away or prevent these animals from being around; the cat may catch or determine mice or other rodents, but they are not a good means of getting rid of them (and don't expect the cat to eat the mice/birds, etc.--unless the cat's mother taught it how to eat a mouse some of them can't figure out how to do it).

Definitely get your cat vaccinated, at the very minimum for rabies, and provide it with a place out of the rain--the garage or shed, or a waterproof box on the porch. If you can catch the cat, get it spayed or neutered. Otherwise, if it's female, you'll end up with a lot of kittens, or if it's male cat will will be wandering around searching for unspayed females to mate with (and be gone for days at a time). Google "low cost spay neuter" and your your county, town or area to see if there is a clinic near you that can do that for you.

You may also need to deworm the cat, even if it's staying outdoors; if you have kids or your dogs go outside, if the cat has worms, it can easily get passed on to your dogs or your family. (It's really pretty easy to do--pick some up at the pet store, and be sure to read the label).

I've found Dr. Foster & Smith's "pet education" website to be very helpful and would recommend you take a look at it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Congrats on your new pet and Thanks for saving her! She is probably use to being outside already, which is great for you...keep feeding her, most animals will let their food go untouched if they aren't hungry any longer. As for protection from the elements, I have an area where rain can't get into the cats home, it has blankets for winter and I just change them out whenever, the container is one of my dogs home and I just covered it for protection from the elements, during the summer I unwrap it to let more air in it...I also have a double chair outside and have a comfy towel on it with a stuffed animal that all the neighborhood cats come and sit on at one time or cat came to me as a stray and hung around because I fed her. We will have other cats come around too, and as long as they get along, we have no problems. Cats will also find their own area when the elements are to much for them, ie., under your house.
I have dogs as well, my cat stays out front or wanders around, she can see the dogs through the fence, but that is about it, there is no love between my dogs and cat!
Good Luck!



answers from Austin on

Good for you for adopting the kitty. Please get her spayed at about 6 months! Cat allergies are more often for short haired cats, not long hairs, by the way. Can you let her in the garage at night? Cats in Texas fall prey to coyotes and big owls, a big problem in our neighborhood right now. Cats will self regulate on food much better than dogs, so let her eat as much as she wants. Don't leave food out or you'll attract vermin you don't want. If there is just no way you can provide shelter at night, please consider finding her a home where she can go inside. Totally outdoor cats don't live long happy lives for the most part.


answers from San Antonio on

Aww poor kitty. I wish there were more ppl around that were compassionate like that. My cats would eat alot the vet recommended that there should always be food in the bowl at all times. Since shes so underweight she'll probably eat a lot for a while since she might be afraid it won't always be there like shes used to :(



answers from Raleigh on

I have three cats- one indoor, one indoor/outdoor, and one outdoor only. The outdoor only cat was already here as a kitten when we moved in 6 years ago and has stayed. We get her shots and she is spayed. Our neighbor and I (and who knows who else) share the feeding- we call her our "community cat". She is very sweet and tame and is perfectly happy. Cats CAN adapt very well to outdoors. I would suggest getting her fixed, and keep up with her shots and flea meds. Our outdoor cat sleeps under the car or on the porch when it rains. She gets a fluffy fur coat in the winter and does fine with the cold. With you living in TX, I don't think you have to worry about extreme temperatures. With her eating like she is, it's possible she has worms. Have a vet check that her out for that. Good luck with your new friend!



answers from Oklahoma City on

She definitely needs a covered shelter. You can pick up a plastic pet kennel at Wal-mart for pretty cheap. Also pick up a cat bed and smush it inside the kennel so that the sides of the cat bed go up the sides of the kennel walls. That way if she leans against the wall of the kennel it will be insulated also. Put something under the bed (an old pillow, a folded up old blanket) to insulate the bottom of the kennel better also. We had a stray cat that would hang around our last house. My husband did what I just described, as well as covering the whole kennel with a thick army blanket to keep the wind out and rigging a flap for a door to keep the heat in. The cat used it right through a pretty bad snow and ice storm. We kept the kennel right outside the front door on the porch where it was easiest to keep the snow off of it and also easiest for us to step outside and feed the cat (and replace the frozen water!)

You definitely need to have her spayed or you WILL eventually wind up with one or more litters of kittens. Even if you never see a tom cat in your area now, as soon as she goes into heat they'll find her. The sooner you can have her spayed, the better it is for her health, too. Usually local animal shelters can spay/neuter on a sliding pay scale if money is an issue. Or you can contact any local pet rescue and they should be able to point you in the right direction.

We have two indoor cats and a feeder that we just keep full, but that may not be the best idea for an outdoor cat because other animals (and bugs) will come to eat the food as well. I like Red's ideas about feeding her.

I'd also encourage you to do some research online about cat foods (and dog foods, for that matter). It's surprising how many pet foods there are that use preservatives that are carcinogenic. No wonder so many family pets die of cancer! Argh! Let me stop now before I get on my soap box :)

Good luck with the kitty! Thanks for rescuing her!



answers from College Station on

We have indoor and outdoor cats as well as dogs (we actually got our dog a cat when his dog friend passed away- they are best buds!). Our outside cat is spayed and she has her own bed and blanket that she uses in the winter. We have an enclosed porch that she and the dog sleep in in all weather. She also has a catbox you there. THe last thing I want is to find catpoo in my garden!

Kittens eat a lot. It will slow down at about 9months old.

Expect little presents left for you on the doorstep. I have had all kinds. As she hunts more, you will see her food intake go down. But watch for opposums and racoons. They love cat food!



answers from Austin on

If you have a garage or barn, put in a small cat door - it's a flap that you buy at the pet store, so she can have shelter. I'd keep her food in there, too. Agree with other posts about keeping food and water elevated, I keep mine on a counter top so the dog doesn't get it. An old blanket is fine for bedding, use something that can be washed. My cat loves his round fleece bed - small with sides that come up a bit. It's washable, too. I keep his bed up high, on a counter and he loves that so he can see all around him. However, there are some outdoor cats in our neighborhood who seem to be outside all the time and use whatever shelter they can find, so I guess they adapt.


answers from New York on

You are very kind to take in a homeless cat. I work with a local feral cat group fostering friendly ferals and feral kittens so that they can be adopted. They also have colonies of ferals that will never be able to be adopted but are cared for every day.

This page has a lot of good information.

I would suggest not leaving food out all the time because it'll invite other critters to your yard. I usually put food out in the morning and bring it in at night. My outdoor guy is waiting on the porch for me every day. He'll let me pet him but won't come in the house. At least I know when I see him in the morning that he's safe and still around.


answers from Cleveland on

One thing you do NOT want to do is leave food outside & water outside in a lil bowl over night. Like you said you live near fields.
It will actually attract other animals to your house. If those animals have any sickness it can spread through that water bowl.

I've never had a cat that I called mine that was always outside. My outdoor cats were allowed in the house whenever they pawed at the door to come in.

what about a garage? do you have one? Maybe you could do a lil set up for her out there. SO it's kinda in doors but not in your house.


answers from Bakersfield on

Keep a full dish of dry food and a bowl of water somewhere "high", this keeps other animals and bugs from getting to it. Cat's like to roost off of the ground, so if possible I'd put her bedding up on top of something as well. Make sure she has a roof over her little area so she doesnt get wet in rain.... She may find some other place to hang out in bad weather tho, like under the house or under the car. As she gets use to the surroundings you will see a pattern form with her.
A can of wet food would probably be a nice thing to do for her either in the morning or the evening...



answers from Houston on

It is great that you are willing to help out the poor stray. There are just too many of them. She is probably eating a lot right now because she didn't have a lot of food for a while. She is probably afraid if she doesn't eat it now it will be gone. She could also be going through a growth spurt. The eating should calm down after a while. Make sure you are feeding her a kitten food so she gets the nutrients she needs. She really does need a place to get out of the rain so if you could let her go in to the garage perhaps when it is raining or cold since she can't come in the house. If you don't have a garage perhaps getting a small dog house would work for her. Please also take her to a vet and have her checked out. There are a all sorts of different diseases that she can get... So since she is going to be outside she should have her shots, Rabies, FIP, Feline Lukemia... and I'm sure there are others. These shots can be expensive so you might see if one of the shelters in your area will give them at a lower cost. The other thing is when she is old enough you will need to get her spayed to make sure she doesn't have more little kitties that you need to take care of. I think usually the vet likes to wait until after they are 8 weeks. Again you might be able to find a place that will do it discounted... but just be careful because you want it done right. Cats are GREAT pets (I have 2 inside cats along with one dog) and can be very sweet and loving. I'm glad to hear this one has a nice home.



answers from Chattanooga on

I have always had my indoor cats and outdoor cats... For the outdoor ones I made a "kennel" that had a small opening (think the size of your palms put together) and a hinged top (so I could keep it clean). the small opening helps keep bigger animals out and hold in heat... The box part itself was about the size of a small dog kennel. I usually just put old blankets in there, but not too much (cats like clean) During the winter (I lived in Idaho, where we got a lot of snow....) I would add a flap to hold the heat in. It worked great! As for food, I would feed her small amounts throughout the day so she doesn't overfill her hungry stomach... when she gets up to weight, she could eat about a cup in the morning and a cup at night. Feed her at specific times, so other animals won't come and steal her food.... Good luck!



answers from Tulsa on

my outdoor cat came in through the ac vent when it rained or was really cold outside. she will probably go under your house or porch or barn if you have one. feed her till she is full since she is a kitten and apperently was neglected. is she wormy? get her checked by a vet to see if there is a medical reason for being underweight. when the cold snaps hit quit feeding her. so she will hunt the mice and eat them. if you have enough fields she will survive off the mice. Mine had fields on three sides of us and ate mice and only came home to eat if there were no mice to eat.

he would come in through the ac vent and announce himself by meowing at us eat and announcing his leaving by meowing at me again. they adjust on thier own.



answers from Mansfield on

He have an indoor outdoor cat. He comes in at night but you could offer your garage or a shed or perhaps even a little dog house type shlter for her at night or in the rain/snowy weather! Plus it would offer her a hiding place from a bigger or aggressive animal. (Or from your dogs when they are out! :)
We feed ours half a can of wet food in the morning and fill his dry food bowl once daily also. I'd say the dry is about a cup to cup and a half daily and the wet is just shy of a cup! Outdoor cats tend to be more active than indoor cats with all of the space they have to run and explore so you may find that her bowls are empty sooner- you'll figure out what works best for her!
Good luck!



answers from Houston on

My parents have several "farm" cats. My dad built a "cat house" several years back. It's about 4' X 4' square and 6' tall. It's chicken wire around the sides. Then he has a log that goes up to a loft. The loft is surrounded and topped by corrugated metal for protection from the elements. In the winter he keeps hay in the loft so the cats can get in there to stay dry and warmer. He also keeps a couple of "beds of hay" in the leeward nooks around the house. Not all of the cats like to cozy up to each other.

He also has set times in the morning and evening that he feeds them. He can't leave food out for them all the time, because this attracts other critters.

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