Every time the temperature starts to drop people ask "What are you going to do with the barn cats?" Well as much as I would love to bring them in when its cold, I can't. They have no home training, meaning my house would be torn to shreds as they are used to climbing, jumping, and scratching on what ever they want to. Plus my 11 year old mainecoon who is very possessive of his mamma might have something to say about it. So here are a few things I find important for my barn kitties in the winter.
All animals need food and water, even in the winter months. Make sure that their food bowl is somewhere where it won't end up buried in the snow or frozen solid because it rained. I have a cat door installed in the wall of my barn that leads into my tack room where I keep my cats food. For those of you that don't have that ability or aren't comfortable with cutting holes in walls. I have found that something as simple as buying a large plastic tote and setting it on it's side, can be helpful. If you have multiple cats I woulds suggest multiple feeding locations since some cats just are not comfortable in tight spaces with others. If you want to take it up a notch you can even attach the lid to the side of the bin creating a little over hang. This also helps weigh the bin down a little bit.
As far as water goes the best thing to do is invest in a heated water bowl, even the bowls placed inside my tack room freeze overnight when the temperatures drop below freezing. You can find them at your local farm supply stores or online from most pet stores. If you can't find the heated bowls, you can just buy a heated bed and either place the water in it or right next to it and this will slow the freezing process. The only down side to both of these options is that these must be near an electrical outlet. Fortunately cats are survivors and if you have to move the water they will find it. I had a stray cat that showed up at my barn who learned how to drink out the horses heated water trough in the winter.
If purchasing a heated bowl is completely out of the question here are a few tips for keeping you cat hydrated. Put a little water in their dry food, it will freeze eventually but if they eat it fairly quickly you are helping them get the water they need to stay hydrated.
Add a bit of oil, sugar or salt to their water. This will stop the water from freezing as fast.
If you live in a climate that rarely dips below freezing, keeping your pet's water in a Styrofoam container or cooler this will help it stay above its freezing point.
This can be a little tricky, especially if you have multiple cats that need warm places to sleep. Again a cat door into your barn or tack room where they can sleep out of the elements is best but not always an option. You can of course by outdoor pet houses but, that can get expensive. There is a pin on pinterest that pops up all the time, especially as the temperatures drop, on how to make an insulated cat house using plastic storage bins I think its a great idea so I have posted the picture below.
This is not my idea, but I do not know the origin of who posted it.
If you don't want to do anything this complicated, just make sure that your outdoor cats have a place to shelter out of the elements. Something as simple as leaning an extra sheet of plywood on the side of the barn can be helpful to your cats.