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OK, I need some collective wisdom from those who know.

I am not a cat person because every cat we ever had got killed by some wild animal. No indoor/outdoor cats around here.

I I just built a nice barn and I now have a cat, absolutely wild, that has adopted the barn. He/she won't come near me which is fine but I happen to be a softy so I do buy food and have great appreciation for all the mice and other varmin the cat controls in my barn. He can stay as long as he can stay alive.

I am thinking about creature comforts for him because pretty soon it can go to 20 below zero around here. I am thinking about building a small shelter fot the cat but kicking around a bunch of ideas in my head and unable to come up with a plan.

Talk to me if you have ideas. I am thinking a wild cat wants an entrance as well as an emergency exit. Not sure if it should be up off the ground, how high or if I should think about some sort of minor heat source. Maybe a short heat tape under the floor or even a light bulb left on 24/7 under the floor. I have old doggy beds that would probably feel like a Tempurpedic mattresses to a wild cat used to living in the woods.

What do you think and please don't tell me to try to domesticate this feline and bring it in. It has been around here for two years now and will live a lot longer keeping the wild skills it apparently has.

GaryL
 

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Small box style enclosure and a small heated kennel pad. Did that for my barn cat. Never really saw him use it, but I think he did occasionally. Generally preferred to climb the extension ladder and sleep in the hay mow.
 

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You have a good plan, Gary. High with an entrance and exit, maybe facing barn's entrance so cat can scope out approach of possible threats. Heat tape seems like a very good idea. I had a feral adopt me like yours. The colder it got the friendlier the feral would get. Good for you.
 

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I would get a cardboard box and put a bed in it. Cut doors and make it like a cave. Maybe sprinkle a little cat-nip inside to get them interested. My cats love cardboard boxes.
 

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We have barn cats........ That's what we call them.. We have a 3' x 2' wooden box shelter I made with a small heat bulb.. We place food inside and the cats seem to enjoy it during cold weather..... OMM.:hello2:
 

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Cats are pretty adaptable to just about anything...even in upstate NY winters, if you have some hay or straw tucked away in a corner he will survive....we have two or 3 Tom Cats that hang around the neighborhood and on occasion I find them snoozing in my dog kennels whice{no dogs these days} is attached to my unheated large 2 1/2 car garage....they have been around for years....meanwhile the cat that adopted us last Christmas, since been spayed, sleeps in the basement, but spends most days outside regardless of weather and she seems to prefer it that way{as do we}..
 

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We have barn cats........ That's what we call them.. We have a 3' x 2' wooden box shelter I made with a small heat bulb.. We place food inside and the cats seem to enjoy it during cold weather..... OMM.:hello2:
I can also add, back wihen we lived on the farm in the 1980s...we had about 15-20 barn cats, more sometime, less others, spent those winters, which were brutal back in the 80s, in the barns with straw....they never need much more, as long as we fed them, and they could avoid the Airedales, they survived fine and dandy....
 

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They make a heated pad that is pressure sensitive so it doesn't go on unless the cat steps on it. Draws little current. Heats up to 55 degrees. not that much $.
 

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You know Gary, you could just park the TW near where they hang and let it idle. Should warm it up enough eh? :p Proper ventilation should prevent the CO2 poisoining I'd think hehe.
 

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lol in all seriousness though, I have a feral that lives around here. We don't get 20 below temps so I don't worry about it much... it just figures it out. But +1 on maybe a 60-100w lightbulb in a semi-enclosed area. That's what we do to keep our boat engines from freezing when it's really cold, and I bet a 100w bulb when it's 20 below seems like heaven to anybody/anything. They'll figure it out if they get to close to it.
 

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Hey,
whats most important to a feral cat is for him to feel safe, so build him a little cubby thaat is high up and hidden, and is located where he wont be disturbed by the coming and going of people dogs, etc.. Buy him a couple cheap pillows from walmart, and as long as he is dry and out of the wind he will feel grateful. Ive been feeding a couple feral cats here for like ten years or so and they seem to do ok as long as theyre dry and out of the wind in alaska and its not uncommon to get 20 or 30 below. However a little heat would be nice, but its likely not necessary. The best location for a little house is exactly where you see him spending the most time now, thats where he feels safest.

Also if you want to improve his life in the long term, consider live trapping him with a have-a heart trap and getting him neutered, wormed, and vaccinated. It will roughly double his life expectancy, and he wont stink up your barn with scent marking. Its great that youre taking the time and making the effort to make his life better! Quite often after theyre neutered or spayed, they calm down quite a bit and become marginally less wild.
 

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Cats like good visibility and a place to hide. High and out of the wind. Avoid manufactured bedding, such as blankets or wood chips. Wheat straw is better than hay for bedding--less likely to draw rodents or insects that eat hay. A regularly fed cat hunts better than one not fed often as cats hunt for fun and are more likely to expend energy staying warm using nutrients and activity than holing up in the cold when survival requires warmth and lack of nutrients prevents self-generation. Better to invest in a low wattage reptile heater than a light bulb as an active animal can easily break a light bulb, resulting in a fire hazard. Wire through a line voltage thermostat exposed to ambient temps, set just high enough to keep the water dish liquid.
 
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