My wife & I have had cats for 18 years. The first one we had was a cat who technically belonged to a neighbor but became our cat because he liked us better (she has lost of cats & he liked quiet). He spend the majority of time outdoors. He would come in for food, pets & long sleeps. We would bring him in if the weather was bad. We did make a box on the back porch if it was cold or wet and we weren't home. The box is made of wood & is 2 x 3 feet x 2 feet high. It is rainproof. Its on our back deck sheltered a bit from the wind. It has a 40 watt light bulb to generate a small amount of heat & has a bunch of old towels on the floor. This worked fine for our old cat & now for one of our current cats who is an indoor/outdoor cat.
Now, a few weeks ago a new cat showed up in the neighborhood. I thought it was maybe because its been so cold & we do have food outside for the indoor/outdoor cat. Maybe we are on the edge of his territory & he wanted to eat something to stay warm as he made his way back home. Well this cat has been showing up almost every day & the last 2 nights has slept in the cat box. He's out there right now fast asleep. I am starting to think he doesn't have a home.
He is a bit skittish & trots off if you make sudden moves or if you approach him. He doesn't growl or hiss. He has shown signs of marking our yard as his territory but has not shown any signs of getting into fights with either of our two cats who go outside (one male & one female). Its all fine. I'm happy to provide him with some food & a warm bed. Except I wonder what happens if it gets really cold. If I'm going to take on the responsibility to take care of him at what point do I need to provide better shelter for him? If he gets comfortable enough with us to come inside then I can just bring him in if its really cold. But what if he won't come inside, its 5 degrees outside with bitter winds and the cat box just isn't warm enough?
Does anyone have experience with outdoor only cats? What do you do in the winter? Any help is much appreciated.