Do Cats Sleep In Cat Houses?

What Is a Cat House?

A cat house, sometimes called a cattery or cat kennel, is a structure where cats are housed, fed, and cared for.

Cat houses are typically enclosed spaces made of wood, metal, plastic or other durable materials. They come in a variety of sizes, from small indoor litter boxes to large outdoor shelters and enrichment areas. Cat houses provide cats with a safe space of their own where they can eat, sleep, play and eliminate waste in one location.

Indoor cat houses are usually simple litter boxes or enclosures designed to contain litter and waste. These help keep cats from eliminating throughout the home. Outdoor cat houses and shelters are much larger, providing protection from the elements and predators.

Many cat owners build customized cat houses, allowing them to control features like size, materials, access points, perches, scratching areas and bedding. Prefabricated cat houses are also available to purchase online or at pet supply stores. These range from basic to deluxe with insulation, heating and other amenities.

In summary, a cat house is a designated feline shelter, whether a simple litter box inside or a fully-equipped cattery outdoors. They provide cats with security, protection and a space of their own. (

Why Do Cats Need Houses?

Cats need houses for several reasons related to their natural instincts and behavior. According to the RSPCA, cats are territorial animals who like to have a safe, secure base where they can retreat to rest, sleep, and feel in control of their environment.[1] Houses provide this territorial base and allow cats to satisfy their instinct to claim an area as their own. Houses also give cats shelter and safety. As predators, cats feel more secure when they can hide in an enclosed space away from potential threats. Additionally, houses protect cats from harsh weather conditions like rain, snow, heat, and cold.

Cats are crepuscular mammals, meaning they are most active at dawn and dusk. Houses give cats a comfortable place to sleep and rest during the day and night when they are less active. The walls and roof of a cat house provide insulation, retaining heat in colder months and providing shade in warmer months. This helps cats easily regulate their body temperature as they sleep. Overall, houses satisfy many of cats’ basic needs by providing security, protection, sleep spaces, and territory that they can control.

Do Cats Use Cat Houses?

Cats do use cat houses, especially feral and outdoor cats that need shelter. Cat houses provide a safe, warm place for cats to sleep, hide, and get out of the elements. While some indoor cats may not take to a cat house right away, they can be trained over time to use it with positive reinforcement and treats.

Cats are territorial creatures and like having their own dedicated spaces and dens. In the wild, they would seek out small caves, hollow logs, and other enclosed areas to sleep and hide in. The innately understand the protective value of a shelter. An outdoor or feral cat relies on a cat house as a necessary form of protection from predators, rain, snow, heat, and other dangers.

Cat houses are not just for sleeping. Cats also appreciate them as safe spaces to play, eat, and watch the world around them. The ideal cat house has a view of the outdoors through a window, porch, or opening. This allows them to survey their territory for threats. Multiple exits give cats an escape route if needed.

With the proper encouragement through toys, treats, catnip and praise, even reluctant indoor cats can learn to enjoy their cat house for naps and alone time. Placing familiar bedding inside helps it smell like home. Overall, the protective den-like nature of cat houses appeals to most cats’ natural preferences.


Ideal Features of a Cat House

When selecting or building the ideal cat house, there are several key features to consider for your feline’s comfort and safety:

Size – The cat house should be big enough for your cat to freely enter, turn around, and lie down comfortably. For larger cats, look for a house at least 24″ x 24″. Kittens and smaller cats only need an 18″ x 18″ house.

Materials – Look for durable, chew-resistant materials like wood, plastic, or steel. Avoid fabrics that may fray or rip. The flooring should be slip-resistant. Carpeting or foam mats make soft, warm surfaces for resting.

Door – A front opening allows easy access. A flap door gives privacy and helps insulate. Make sure the door is large enough for your cat.

Bedding – Include a machine-washable bed or pad for comfort and warmth. Fleece and soft fabrics make good linings.

Heating – For cold climates, choose an insulated house or add a heated bed. Look for chew-resistant power cords on electric heating pads.

Placement – Set the house in a quiet, low-traffic area, but not too secluded. Elevate it slightly off the floor and ensure access to food, water, and litter.

Training a Cat to Use Its House

Getting a cat accustomed to using a cat house takes some patience and positive reinforcement. Here are some tips for successfully training your cat to use its new house:

Start by placing the cat house in an area your cat already likes to frequent and make sure the entrance is clear and accessible. Put a soft blanket or bed inside to make it cozy and inviting. You can rub some catnip on the bedding to make it more enticing to your cat.

Next, feed your cat treats and meals near the entrance of the house so they start to associate it with something positive. You can also place treats just inside the doorway to encourage them to step inside.

It may help to place familiar scented items inside the house, like one of your worn t-shirts. This can help it smell more like their territory.

Try leaving the door to the house open so your cat can explore it at their own pace. Don’t force them to go in. With time and positive associations, your cat will likely start naturally relaxing and sleeping there.

Be patient and reward any small progress your cat makes with praise and treats. Consistency is key. With time, your cat should transition to regularly using and enjoying their new cat house.

For anxious cats, consider using calming pheromone diffusers near the cat house entrance. This can help ease any stress.

If training an outdoor cat or feral cat, set up the house in a quiet, sheltered area and make sure food and water is close by. It may take longer for these cats to get accustomed to using the house. Be patient and allow them to use it at their own pace.

Pros and Cons of Cat Houses

Cat houses provide both advantages and disadvantages for cats and their owners. Some key pros of cat houses include:

  • Provide a safe, warm shelter for outdoor cats (source)
  • Allow indoor/outdoor cats to freely access the outdoors while having a place to retreat
  • Can be placed in optimal sunny locations suited to a cat’s preferences
  • Portable houses allow cats to be moved between locations

Some potential cons of cat houses include:

  • Require cleaning and maintenance
  • May not protect cats from all weather conditions or predators
  • Indoor cats may have difficulty adjusting to using an outdoor house
  • Cat may ignore or refuse to use the house

Overall, cat houses are usually a beneficial addition for households with cats. Owners should weigh the advantages and disadvantages based on their specific situation. With proper use and training, cat houses can greatly improve life for both indoor and outdoor felines.

Alternatives to Cat Houses

While cat houses can provide shelter, there are other options cat owners can consider as alternatives. Some cats may prefer sleeping in cardboard boxes, cat trees, cat beds, or other cozy spaces.

Cardboard boxes make for inexpensive and easily replaceable shelters. The boxes can be placed in warm, dry areas and lined with soft bedding. Cats often enjoy confined spaces, and boxes allow them to feel hidden and secure [1].

Cat trees and perches elevate cats off the ground and give them vantage points for watching their surroundings. The platforms and cubby holes also create nesting areas. Cat trees come in various styles and materials, like sisal, wood, and cardboard [2].

Plush cat beds provide warmth and cushioning for naps. Heated beds can be especially comforting for elderly, arthritic, or cats susceptible to chill. Cat beds range from simple mats to enclosed domes that allow for privacy [3].

Outdoor Cat Houses

Outdoor cat houses require some special considerations compared to indoor versions. Since outdoor houses are exposed to the elements, they need to be durable and weatherproof. Waterproof materials like wood, plastic or resin are ideal for outdoor use.

Insulation is also very important for outdoor cat houses. The house should have thick, insulating walls to maintain warmth in colder months. Some outdoor houses have self-heating features to keep the interior at a comfortable temperature. Adding a cozy bed or blankets inside can also help retain warmth.

Ventilation is another key factor. Outdoor houses should have vents or openings to allow for air flow. This prevents moisture build-up inside. But the openings should be positioned to keep wind and rain out.

The house should also be raised off the ground by a few inches to prevent water pooling inside. Attaching the house in a covered space can help shield it from the elements. Placing the house in a quiet, safe location is important for the cat’s comfort.

Outdoor houses should be routinely cleaned and sanitized since they are exposed to more dirt. Checking for any damage after storms and doing repairs as needed will help maintain the house. Outdoor cat houses require more maintenance but are essential for community cats who live fully outside.


DIY Cat House Ideas

Building your own cat house can be a fun and rewarding DIY project. Homemade cat houses allow you to customize the design to your cat’s needs and preferences. When constructing a DIY cat house, keep these tips in mind:

Choose the right materials. Opt for weatherproof and sturdy materials like wood, hard plastic, and metal. Avoid flimsy cardboard or fabric. Make sure any paints or finishes are non-toxic. The flooring should be flat, waterproof, and comfortable.

Include adequate insulation. Insulation like straw, foam, or fiberglass batting will help the cat house retain heat in winter and stay cooler in summer. Provide ample insulation on all sides, the floor, and the roof.

Allow for ventilation. Cut windows or vents so air can circulate. This prevents moisture buildup and keeps the interior from getting too hot.

Make it waterproof. Use water-resistant shingles or tiles on the roof. Seal any cracks and cover openings with waterproof flaps. Elevate the house slightly off the ground to prevent flooding.

Add warmth. Place a pet-safe heating pad or self-warming pet mat inside during cold weather. You can also line the walls with reflective insulation for added warmth.

Include bedding. The floor should be cushioned with blankets, towels, or a pet bed for comfort. Make sure bedding stays dry and replace frequently.

Customize for your cat. Observe your cat’s preferences and make the house accordingly. For example, does your cat prefer high perches or enclosed hideaways? Build access points suited to your cat’s mobility level.

Make it appealing. Place the house in a quiet, safe location. Include some of your cat’s favorite toys or treats as encouragement. Be patient as your cat gets accustomed to its new home.

With some creativity and cat-savvy design, you can construct the purrfect DIY cat house suited to your pet’s needs. Check out online tutorials for step-by-step instructions and inspiration.


In summary, while cats do not instinctively understand the purpose of a dedicated cat house, they can be trained to use them. Cat houses provide shelter, warmth, privacy and security for indoor and outdoor cats. The ideal cat house has features like insulation, easy access, and is sized appropriately for the cat. Cat houses work best when introduced gradually by placing them in spots the cat already likes to sleep. Some cats may resist using a cat house at first or prefer alternatives like cardboard boxes. With patience and rewards, most cats can be encouraged to adopt a proper cat house. If cared for properly, cat houses can improve cat welfare and give cat owners peace of mind knowing their pet has a safe place to rest.

The key takeaways are:

  • Cats need shelter but don’t instinctively understand cat houses.
  • Ideal cat houses are insulated, easily accessed, and cat-sized.
  • Introduce cat houses gradually in the cat’s preferred sleeping spots.
  • Use rewards and patience to train cat house usage.
  • Well-used cat houses improve cat welfare and owner peace of mind.
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