on Monday, January 28, 2019
Feral cats will be looking for food resources and warm shelter to protect them from the cold of winter. We recommend the following tips for caretakers to help colonies get through the cold season.
Line Rubbermaid containers with styrofoam, cut out a doorway, and you have an instant shelter to offer cats protection from the cold weather. Even better, add a layer of straw between the container and styrofoam and add another layer on the floor. Avoid using blankets or hay for lining as they can absorb moisture and freeze.
Another shelter option is a two-inch-thick foam cooler with a hole cut in the side for easy access. You can find these coolers at restaurants or medical offices where they are used to ship perishable food and medical supplies.
Cats rely on body heat to stay warm, so keep your shelters small for small colonies and use multiple small shelters for larger colonies. Cats can get snowed in so it’s important to remove snow from all entrances and exits. Shovel regularly to stay ahead of the game.
Avoid using salt and chemicals designed to melt snow near your colonies. They can be toxic if they’re ingested from melted puddles or licked off paws, and they can hurt a cat’s paw pads.
Provide Food and Water
Extreme cold weather can increase a cat’s energy and nutritional needs. Wet food in insulated containers is ideal for cold weather because it takes less energy to digest, which means more energy for the cat to stay warm. Check on the wet food and switch it out frequently.
A protected feeding station can make all the difference in areas that receive large amounts of snow. An upturned Rubbermaid bin with one side cut out is a common feeding station cover. Just like with the instant shelter, make sure you clear snow away from protected feeding stations to ensure all cats can reach the food without issue.
Water is necessary to prevent dehydration, but it also can become frozen quickly. If you have an electrical outlet outdoors, an electric-heated water bowl is a good option. You can also insulate dishes with styrofoam. If you are having issues with water freezing, consider using silicone camping bowls or baking pans; you can easily pop the ice out of the bowl without damaging the container and then you can refill instantly.
Thank you for helping fereal community cats stay warm and fed this winter!