Do Outdoor Cats Need A Bed?

For owners who allow their cats to roam outdoors, providing proper shelter is an important responsibility. Outdoor cats are at the mercy of the elements, facing cold winter temperatures, rain, snow, heat, and more. Many owners wonder if it is necessary to provide an outdoor cat bed or if nature will suffice.

The choice of whether to provide a designated feline sleeping space comes down to your cat’s unique needs and preferences. While some cats may happily curl up on porches or in wood piles, others will greatly benefit from the comfort and insulation of a weatherproof cat hut. This guide covers the advantages of outdoor cat beds, types of beds, ideal features, proper placement, and DIY ideas to keep your outdoor cat warm and cozy.

With the right outdoor cat bed, you can give your wandering feline a safe space to retreat at the end of the day.

Outdoor Cat Lifespan

Studies have shown that the average lifespan of an outdoor cat is significantly shorter compared to an indoor cat. According to research, indoor cats live on average 10-15 years, while outdoor cats typically live only 2-5 years on average [1]. There are many dangers that outdoor cats face every day, including cars, predators, diseases, parasites, and cruel humans, all of which can shorten their life expectancy. Allowing your cat outdoors unsupervised exposes them to these threats and greatly increases their risk of injury, illness and premature death. Keeping your cat indoors ensures they live a longer, healthier, and happier life.

Outdoor Cat Shelter Needs

Outdoor cats require shelter that protects them from the elements and provides a warm, dry place to sleep. According to the Alley Cat Allies, a good outdoor cat shelter should be weatherproof, insulated, and large enough for the cat to stand up, turn around, and stretch out comfortably inside (Alley Cat Allies). The shelter entrance should also be covered or partially enclosed to block wind, rain, and snow.

Outdoor cat shelters can help feral and stray cats survive harsh weather conditions like freezing winter temperatures, heavy rains, snow storms, and summer heat waves. The Humane Society notes that outdoor cats often perish from exposure, so having an insulated and waterproof shelter can literally save lives (Humane Society). The shelter should contain soft, warm bedding materials like straw to provide insulation from the ground and retain body heat.

In addition to protection from the elements, a good outdoor cat shelter also provides security and privacy, according to Alley Cat Allies. Cats feel safer and more comfortable when they can retreat to their own enclosed space (Alley Cat Allies). The shelter allows them to sleep undisturbed and avoid confrontations with other animals or people.

Benefits of Cat Beds Outdoors

Outdoor cat beds provide a number of benefits for cats who spend time outside. The primary benefits are providing warmth, comfort and a sense of security for outdoor cats.

Cats are vulnerable when sleeping outdoors without shelter. An outdoor cat bed provides a cozy, insulated place for cats to get protection from the elements like wind, rain, snow or hot sun ( The enclosed, covered space creates a safe little haven for cats to retreat to when they want to relax or take a nap outside.

Outdoor cat beds are usually made with thick, plush materials and cushioning that is very comfortable for cats to lie on. The softness and warmth of a cat bed provides more comfort than sleeping on hard, cold outdoor surfaces. An outdoor bed allows cats to sleep comfortably while still enjoying the fresh air and sounds/smells of nature (

The enclosed, den-like design of many outdoor cat beds also provides cats with a sense of security when resting. Outdoor cats can feel vulnerable when sleeping in the open. Having a sheltering bed to crawl into helps satisfy a cat’s natural instinct to seek safe, protected spaces to sleep. They’ll feel more at ease snoozing in their own little ‘den’.

Types of Outdoor Cat Beds

There are several common types of outdoor cat beds to choose from:

Heated Cat Beds

Heated cat beds ( provide warmth for outdoor cats during cold weather. They typically contain a heating element powered by electricity or USB. The heat reflects the cat’s own body warmth back at them. Heated beds help outdoor cats stay warm and prevent hypothermia.

Insulated Cat Beds

Insulated cat beds ( contain insulation material like poly-fill to provide warmth. The insulation traps the cat’s body heat and keeps them cozy. Insulated beds are ideal for cold climates.

Elevated Cat Beds

Elevated cat beds ( raise cats off the ground and provide airflow underneath. This allows air to circulate and keeps cats cool during hot weather. Elevated beds also keep cats dry by preventing contact with wet ground.

Waterproof Cat Beds

Waterproof cat beds ( have a water-repellent outer layer that prevents rain and snow from soaking into the bed. They keep the interior dry and comfortable for cats. Waterproofing is essential for outdoor cat beds exposed to the elements.

Ideal Outdoor Cat Bed Features

When selecting an outdoor cat bed, look for certain features that make the bed suitable for outdoor use:

Waterproof and durable materials – Outdoor cat beds should be made of materials that can withstand exposure to the elements. Waterproof fabrics like polyester and nylon resist moisture, while heavy duty PVC or canvas bottoms provide durability. The Hepper Pod Cat Bed features a water-resistant base and removable faux-shearling cushion.


Placement Tips

When placing an outdoor cat bed, you’ll want to choose a location that provides protection from the elements while keeping your cat safe. Here are some key factors to consider:

Pick a sheltered spot. Choose an area that is shielded from rain, wind, snow, and direct sun. Placing the bed under an eave, porch, deck, or tree can help block precipitation and provide shade (Home & Roost).

Keep it elevated. Position the bed so it’s slightly elevated off the ground, such as on a deck or patio. This will prevent water from pooling underneath during wet weather (PetHelpful).

Avoid open spaces. Don’t put the bed in the middle of a yard. Cats feel more secure when they can hide. Place it near a bush, tree trunk, or enclosure wall so your cat has something to duck behind.

Consider privacy. Pick a quiet spot away from high traffic areas. This will deter local predators.

Observe sun patterns. Notice where sunlight falls throughout the day and place the bed so there’s shade available at peak sun times.

DIY Outdoor Cat Bed Ideas

Creating your own DIY outdoor cat bed can be a fun and budget-friendly way to provide your cat with a cozy shelter. One easy DIY idea is to upcycle plastic storage bins or crates into a cat bed. Look for a plastic bin that is large enough for your cat to curl up in. Cut a hole in one of the long sides of the bin as an entrance. Line the bottom with a blanket, towel or cat bed to make it soft and comfortable. You can even add a flap over the entrance hole for additional protection from the elements. The plastic storage bin already has a waterproof base and top, so it makes an ideal outdoor cat house.

Another DIY cat bed idea is to use a plastic tub or bucket lined with cushy material inside. Be sure to cut a hole in the side for an entrance and exit. The tub shelter is lightweight but sturdy against outdoor conditions. For added insulation, you can tape some rigid foam board or reflective insulation to the outside.

For a more decorative DIY outdoor cat shelter, upcycle things like wooden crates, cardboard boxes or even a small cabinet or nightstand. The key is making sure the structure is weatherproofed and insulated while still allowing for airflow. Get creative with your materials but be mindful of sharp edges or hazards.

No matter what type of DIY cat shelter you create, be sure to check on it periodically and add fresh bedding when needed. Providing your outdoor cat with a place to get comfortable can help improve their quality of life.

When a Bed May Not be Necessary

While most outdoor cats can benefit from having a bed, there are some situations where a dedicated cat bed may not be necessary:

Barn cats often have ample shelter options in barns, haylofts, and old farm equipment. As long as they have dry, warm, and safe places to sleep, additional beds aren’t essential. However, beds can still be a nice comfort.

Cats who already sleep in alternative outdoor shelters like porches, sheds, garages and under vehicles may not need a dedicated cat bed, as long as their existing shelter is warm, dry and safe. Providing a bed in these areas can still give them a cozy place to lounge.

In very warm climates, outdoor cats may not use cat beds as much, since warmth is not as much of an issue. But beds can still provide comfort and a sense of security.

If you provide food, water, and monitoring for outdoor cats already sleeping on your property, beds may be a lower priority than other needs. But they can still make outdoor life more comfortable.

Ultimately, assessing your cat’s existing shelter and needs is important. While most cats can benefit from having an outdoor bed, it may not be an absolute necessity depending on the situation.


After reviewing the key points we discussed, it is clear that outdoor cats do have shelter needs that should be met, including access to a bed. We explored the benefits of providing an outdoor bed for cats who spend time outside, such as protection from the elements, warmth, comfort and security. While outdoor cats are able to find shelter on their own, a proper outdoor cat bed tailored to their needs can greatly enhance their quality of life.

It is important for cat owners to consider the wellbeing of their outdoor cats and take reasonable steps to ensure their basic needs are met. A bed dedicated for outdoor use can provide outdoor cats a warm, dry and comfortable place to rest and sleep. By meeting our cats’ fundamental needs for shelter and creature comforts to the extent we can, we enable them to thrive in their outdoor environment.

The options for outdoor cat beds allow owners to choose the ideal solution based on their cat’s preferences, climate considerations and budget. With a bit of forethought, you can provide your outdoor cat a shelter oasis that will improve their outdoor experience.

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