Utilizing an outdoor cat house stuffed with straw—rather than hay—can provide your feline companions with a warm and snug refuge during winter. Although the distinction between straw and hay might appear trivial, it can have a significant impact on a cat’s comfort. Despite their visual similarity, straw proves to be an excellent choice for bedding in outdoor cat shelters, while hay, on the other hand, can rapidly turn into a sodden, uncomfortable mess.
Hay, commonly used as feed for animals such as horses, tends to absorb moisture. This makes it cold and uncomfortable for cats, and it can also become mouldy over time. In colder weather, a damp bed could potentially lead to health issues for cats.
Contrastingly, straw—comprising dry leftover stalks from harvested crops—acts as a moisture repellent. This makes it the ideal bedding choice for outdoor cat shelters. Simply fill the shelter with loosely packed straw to about a quarter or halfway mark, and voila, your cat’s winter refuge is ready!
The easiest way to distinguish between straw and hay typically lies in their price tags: hay generally costs two to three times more than straw. Straw is characterized by its toughness, thickness, light weight, and yellow or golden hue. Hay, on the other hand, is usually heavy and green, although there are different varieties. If you’re unsure about the differences, don’t hesitate to ask the store clerk for assistance!
Locating straw for your outdoor cat shelter isn’t a difficult task. You can generally find it in the following places:
- Pet supply stores
- Stores or catalogs that cater to farming, livestock, or agricultural supplies
- Garden centers
- Local farmers (you might want to ask your neighbors for recommendations)
- Your local veterinarian may also know about suppliers in your area
A caregiver’s tip to keep in mind is that while straw usually comes in large bales, you’ll only require a fraction of that to line a cat house. Ensure you maintain a sufficient amount of straw to refresh the shelter when the seasons change, thereby ensuring it stays clean and pleasant-smelling for the cats. Sharing a bale with other caregivers could be a practical solution. When stored properly— in a dry location and raised off the ground, such as on a wooden pallet—straw can remain in good condition for many years.