How to delay the water from freezing for outdoor cats without electricity

This post shares the method I used to delay water from freezing for Midnight and the other cats in my yard during the winter of 2017.

Without electricity or another power source, the water will freeze eventually when the temperature is low enough. 

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In 2018, I got the K&H heated water bowl, as we have an outdoor outlet near the feeding area in my yard, and decided to trust it. It was the best purchase I made in 2018 as no more hassling with frozen water.

Anyway, electricity isn’t an option for all outdoor cats. So, this post will detail the method used to keep the water unfrozen for as long as possible, which I used in 2017,

The option I choose was to use stacked bowls with a hot pack in between the bowls. Metal bowls should never be used in cold weather with the cats (unless it’s a heated bowl). Their tongue could freeze to a metal bowl!

(When I was in sixth grade, a kid licked a metal pole during recess. His tongue froze to the pole and the ambulance was called. We were told to not look out the window by the teacher!)

The hot packs

I’ve used hot packs when taking a hot dish to family gatherings (we got a Pyrex travel bag for a wedding gift). The hot packs had worn out so I ordered 3 from Amazon.

Why 3? I wasn’t sure what the rules for the hot pack would be. This hot pack is only for hot dishes and the pack is heated in the microwave. To be safe, I only put a hot pack in the microwave when it was at room temperature.

Having 3 allowed the pack that was frozen outside to completely thaw before reheating it again.

When the temperature was dropping below zero, I put out freshwater with a heated hot pack three times a day.

Vesture 7

The final result

The hot pack kept the water from freezing for longer than without it. Some days it was hours longer, but how much longer depended on the air temperature.

Also, setting the stacked bowls inside the cooler may have helped too (I didn’t do a test with the cooler). The cooler was a cheap cooler that I found on clearance (probably because I bought it during the winter!).

At times when I expected at least one cat to be in the yard waiting for food, I provided wet food so they could consume it before it froze to help them stay hydrated.

bowls and hot pack on table
bowls and hot pack on table
bowls stacked with the hot pack
bowls stacked with the hot pack
Water bowl in styrofoam cooler
Water bowl in a styrofoam cooler

Other resources to keep water from freezing

There are other options to help to keep the water from freezing for cats without electricity.

I looked into the Solar Sipper but the models I saw only keep the ice out of the water down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit and in Michigan, the temperature drops below 20 in the winter.

The Snuggle Safe looked like it had fabric on it. So with the bowls being outside, I didn’t want to mess around with wet fabric. Update: A reader pointed out that the fabric cover comes off and that they have used the Snuggle Safe to help keep water unfrozen (see comment section).

For the winter of 2018, we decided to trust our outdoor outlet and are using a heated water bowl. The convenience is great as I can quickly change out the water every day with fresh. We are using the K&H 96 Ounce bowl.

In late fall, my local pet store didn’t have heated water bowls in stock. So I ordered it here on Chewy. It’s also available on Amazon.

More Ideas can be found at the posts below:

Neighborhood cats – Stop freezing water

Alley Cat Allies – Winter Weather Tips

You can see how we upgraded the outdoor cat feeding station 2020 here.

To keep the water from freezing for as long as possible, I stacked bowls with a hot pack (heated in the microwave) and then placed the entire stack into a small styrofoam cooler.

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Heidi has been living with cats since 2003 and loves to talk about cats. She currently has seven indoor cats and two outdoor cats. She also is also a cat artist.

2 thoughts on “How to delay the water from freezing for outdoor cats without electricity”

  1. Just FYI, the Snuggle Safe cover is removable. 🙂 I have them on-hand for fostering, so I tried them out for keeping food warm/water unfrozen for my colony too and it worked pretty well.


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