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How to add heat to an outdoor critter house

For over 7 years I’ve been feeding Sammy, the outdoor cat, on my back deck. No one knows where he lives or how he’s survived our recent bad winters, but somehow Sammy keeps going. Even though I can’t get near him, I think of him as one of my own beloved critters.

Last year I bought him a log doggie house, and before the cold weather set in I added a heat lamp for warmth. Sammy doesn’t live in this house, but he likes the heat so much he often sleeps out there all day, and sometimes well into the night.

Many people have asked about what I did and which products I used, so I decided to share that info on this blog.

The above picture shows Sammy in the house. I bought this from Petco online. The house came on short legs with a wooden floor, but Sammy didn’t like the spongy feel of the floor so I cut off the legs and took out the floor.

I bought a 100 watt red heat lamp and housing from Petsmart.

I found it in the reptile area. You can get lower and higher wattages, but I felt comfortable with 100 watt. There were some hen house and barn fires in Portland this winter, and the news said that heat lamps over 100 watts were the cause.

I spoke with a few electricians about how to safely put this in the house.

I hung the lamp on a hook and fixed the wires up in the ceiling. I wrapped a plastic bag around the connection where I plugged the lamp into the outdoor extension cord, and then wrapped duct tape around that. This would minimize condensation.

The electricians said that as long as the lamp and cord were out of the direct rain I should be ok. The peaked roof made this a perfect style for adding the lamp.

Finally, I put the lamp on a remote control converter, which I bought at Home Depot in the holiday lighting department for $10.00. Here’s a link to a similar device on Amazon.com. All I have to do is click the remote from inside and I can turn the lamp on and off.
Very cool!

This has worked well for me, but if you decide to give this a try I recommend you speak with an electrician or other knowledgeable person about any safety questions you might have.

I’ve received emails and pictures of other heating ideas from people who are feeding outside critters. Sammy’s house is on my uncovered deck, and with all the rain here in Oregon I can’t put any bedding in there.

However, just for the fun of it I put some fleecy bedding in the house the other day and Sammy refused to go near it. He’s probably never seen, much less slept, on bedding. Maybe we’ll try again when it’s dry.

Sammy will spend 10 hours under the heat lamp while it rains outside. He seems to be awfully content…and that makes me very, very happy.


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