In this article, we round up a few of the best cat houses on the market and highlight their features. But why would you consider purchasing a cat house for your feline friends? Well, there are a number of reasons, and we’ll look at these first.
Perhaps you own outdoor cats – that’s those that spend the majority of their time outside, whether through choice or because you don’t like them being in the house. Alternatively, you may play host to feral cats which have resisted all attempts at being tamed. Despite their fur coats, cats suffer from cold and extremes of weather just like we do, and need a place to shelter out of the inclement weather conditions or even strong sunlight.
Many other cats just like a bit of peace and quiet and like a safe place, somewhere they can retreat to away from the hustle and bustle if things get too much, to rest in peace and quiet.
Indoor cats – ones that live inside and aren’t allowed outdoors – also have specific needs. Alongside their own hidey hole, owners should also provide additional physical and mental stimulation. Exercise is very important to prevent feline obesity, which is on the rise and can cause serious health consequences including diabetes and arthritis. An opportunity to play frequently is vital too. Cats are hunters by nature, and indoor cats especially can get bored and cause mischief. Some of that excess energy can be burnt off or diverted by giving them a cat playhouse of their own.
Having considered all these factors, we’ll now take a look at some of the houses that can offer benefits like this and more.
Best Cat Houses Buying Guide & FAQ
Cat House Types
The broad options when looking for cat houses are indoor or outdoor; and heated or unheated. The first is important because if you are placing the cat house outdoors, you need to know that it is draft proof, waterproof and sturdy enough to resist strong winds, so it doesn’t blow away. Heating is often an additional option for outdoor cat houses, as many owners buy these to keep cats warm in winter if they choose not to come into the house.
All the cat houses mentioned in this article are ones that offer your pets additional shelter and a place to play or hide from the hustle and bustle. Some owners, though, who have indoor cats are looking for a secure cattery, so that their cats can experience the great outdoors without wandering off, falling victim to predators or putting themselves in danger from passing cars. If this sounds like you, then you’re looking for a cat run or pen instead.
Cats that are habitually confined to the indoors need extra stimulation and resources to keep them occupied and happy in their day-to-day lives. If you’re the owner of an indoor cat, you might also like to look for additional accessories such as cat condos and scratching towers. Cat condos usually feature a variety of levels, shelves, toys and even cat hammocks which will give your cat an indoor play center to keep him occupied and give him somewhere new to chill. Scratching towers are essential around the home as they’ll allow your pet to sharpen their claws, stretch and exercise their muscles, as well as marking their territory, as they would in the great outdoors. They also help save your furniture from damage!
Things to Consider When Purchasing a Cat House
- Size: while cats seem to love confined spaces, often sneaking themselves into what appear to be impossibly small nooks and crannies around your home, the dimensions of the cat house are still important. You want one that will allow your cat or cats enough room to get in and out comfortably, and to curl up and sleep.
- Play Features: As mentioned in the introduction, indoor cats especially need stimulation, so many owners look for a cat house that can double up as an additional play area for your pet as well as somewhere to shelter. If this sounds like you, look for things they can interact with, or at least room inside to put their favorite toys or a scratching tower.
- Safety: Particularly if your cat house is for the outdoors, it’s important to look for a model that features two doors. This is so your cat cannot be trapped inside by predators. Alternatively, some products restrict the size of the opening to prevent animals larger than a cat from accessing it.
- Weather Resistance: Outdoor cat houses must at least be shower-resistant if not fully waterproof to offer protection against the elements and to preserve its life. If you live in an area that suffers from extreme winds and are worried about a cat house blowing away, look for a sturdy model made of wood rather than fabric.
Are There Any Additional Tips for Outdoor or Feral Cats in Winter?
Some cats just won’t come inside, no matter how cold it is. Their fear of contact with humans or being confined is far greater than their own physical comfort. If you’re concerned about any feral or outdoor cats making it through the winter without suffering from hypothermia, then heating is a must. In terms of heating, then, what should you be looking for?
- Ensure the heater is guarded by a shade or similar, so that the animal cannot burn itself on it.
- Two heat settings are desirable, a high and a low one. As the winter draws to a close, you should turn the heat down to low to help them adjust as the weather gets warmer.
- Look for a low wattage heating element or system to keep your bills down.
- Check the length of the cable to make sure you have a convenient power socket for plugging it into the mains.
- Once the heating pad is plugged in, you may feel it and wonder whether it’s making any difference. Remember that cats’ bodies are more sensitive than ours and what might not seem much warmer to you is actually perfectly sufficient for your feline friend to feel the benefits. A good way to check whether the heat pad is working it to place a blanket or pillow over it, then around 20 minutes’ later, feel underneath it. This will give you reassurance that the pad is emitting warmth.
Other steps you can take to make sure your feral cat is comfortable in the worst of the winter weather include making sure the surface area of their bedding is raised at least three inches off the floor. This helps ensure that the cold and damp doesn’t penetrate upwards through it.
If it’s really cold, you can add a blanket or other covering to the outside of the house to insulate it. However, just check that you haven’t blocked the exits if you have a nervous cat.
It’s also worth noting here that you should feed outdoor or feral cats a little more in winter than you would usually do during the warmer months. They’ll be expending extra energy on trying to keep warm, so they’ll appreciate the increase in calories.
Unplug the heater in summer and prop open or remove the doors if possible when it’s really hot to allow a free flow of air.
Q: Where Should I Place My Cat House?
A: This is very much dependent on whether you’ve bought a cat house for the indoors or for outdoor use.
For indoor cat houses:
- Look for somewhere off the beaten track and away from the general run of traffic through the home. One of the benefits of his cat house should be that it’s a quiet place for him to chill and relax, or hide when feeling stressed, so you don’t want it in any area that’s too busy or noisy.
- If he has a preferred room or likes to be close to you while work or sleep, for instance, then consider placing it here.
For outdoor cat houses:
The most suitable place to position your cat house is a sheltered spot out of the worst of the wind and other elements:
- It could go on your porch, for instance, if you have one; or under decking.
- If a garage or barn is habitually left open or has access points large enough for cats, then these kinds of locations would be great as they will provide additional protection from the weather.
- If none of these apply, then anywhere out of the prevailing winds or sheltered from the worst of the rain is good.
Q: Is There a Way to Encourage My Cat to Use his Cat House?
A: You know what it’s like with an independent minded cat. You spend a fortune on expensive toys or play equipment and they won’t go near it; they’d rather have the cardboard box it came in! If you’ve invested in a cat house and you pet doesn’t seem keen, there are a number of handy hints for encouraging him to have a go.
- Put a familiar-smelling blanket or his favorite cushion in it.
- If possible, remove one wall so it’s more open initially, or prop the door open for a little while. This will give him reassurance that he’s not going to be trapped inside. Cats are curious by nature, so you may be able to entice him to explore a bit if the cat house doesn’t look threatening. When he becomes accustomed to wandering in and out at will, you can then think about replacing the flap or closing the door.
- You could also try enticing him in by sprinkling a little catnip inside, or using his favorite treats to encourage him to enter the cat house.
Q: Can I Put my Cat’s Food And Water in the Pet House?
A: It’s not advised. For one thing, many of these cat houses aren’t big enough to take bowls as well as the cat. And if you have invested in a heated model, there are often concerns that a bowl of water, if knocked over, will damage the heating pad or worse. Also, despite their reputation for cleanliness, cats aren’t always the most fastidious of eaters. With food in their cat house, you may need to clean it up more regularly or it’s liable to become smelly, attract insects and bacteria, not to mention other animals, especially in winter when food is scarce.