How to get a cat to use a shelter

Posted by on 10/16/2018
The majority of times, cats will figure out to use shelters on their own. That said, here are things to consider if it doesn't seem like the cat is using its shelter:
  • It's warm enough that the cat simply has no pressing need to sleep in the shelter. BE PATIENT! Some cats just need a lot of time to get comfortable with a new shelter.
  • Make it attractive with straw and catnip.
  • The cat actually has another shelter it likes. Sometimes outdoor cats are actually just pets who go outdoors and return home to come inside. The cat may also have a barn, crawlspace or some other shelter that it prefers.
  • Food can't be near a shelter. Cats instinctively avoid sheltering near food as food attracts other cats and wildlife.
  • Location of the shelter can be important. More feral/less sociable cats typically want to shelter farther away from humans. Generally, cats prefer to move along walls, hedges or other natural barriers and boundaries, so keep a shelter near natural cover, as opposed to out in an open area where the cat may feel exposed.
  • When all else fails, try a new location. But do it sparingly and only after giving the cat lots of time to explore and get used to the current location.
  • It's warm enough that the cat simply has no pressing need to sleep in the shelter. BE PATIENT! Some cats just need a lot of time to get comfortable with a new shelter.
  • Make it attractive with straw and catnip.
  • The cat actually has another shelter it likes. Sometimes outdoor cats are actually just pets who go outdoors and return home to come inside. The cat may also have a barn, crawlspace or some other shelter that it prefers.
  • Food can't be near a shelter. Cats instinctively avoid sheltering near food as food attracts other cats and wildlife.
  • Location of the shelter can be important. More feral/less sociable cats typically want to shelter farther away from humans. Generally, cats prefer to move along walls, hedges or other natural barriers and boundaries, so keep a shelter near natural cover, as opposed to out in an open area where the cat may feel exposed.
  • When all else fails, try a new location. But do it sparingly and only after giving the cat lots of time to explore and get used to the current location.