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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. 

This post contains affiliate links. 

In 2018, I got the K&H heated water bowl, as we have an 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. 

Anway, electricity isn't an option for all outdoor cats. So, this post will detail method used to keep the water unfrozen for as long as possible. 

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 fresh water with a heated hot pack three times a day. 

Vesture Hot Pack-Replacement Microcore Pac for Casserole Carriers (Red Pack For Microwave Heating) from Amazon.

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 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 just add more water to the bowl every couple of days. 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

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

How have you kept water from freezing for cats?

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Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 2 comments
Team Tripod - November 11, 2019

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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    Heidi from The Joy of Cats - November 11, 2019

    Thank you! I will update the post!

    Reply

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