Keep Feral Cats Warm in Cold Temperatures

posted on Monday, January 28, 2019 in Pet PSA

feral cat winter

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.

Provide Shelter

There are a number of options for providing community cats with adequate shelter during the winter months. If you’re interested in purchasing something, amazon has a variety of options to choose from:

(Remember to go to smile.amazon.com so that your purchase can help support the Animal Rescue League of Iowa.)

Do-it-yourself Alternatives

community cat feeding station

If you’re handy and prefer to provide a homemade shelter, here is a simple shelter you can make that will have a great impact on feral cats in your neighborhood.

Line a large plastic container with styrofoam. Keep the cover on, but cut out a doorway. There 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 for extra insulation, and add another layer on the floor. Be sure to avoid using blankets or hay for lining, as they can absorb moisture and freeze.

Another do-it-yourself shelter option is to purchase or recycle a two-inch-thick foam cooler. Cut a hole 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.

Tailwaggin’ Tips:

Cats rely on body heat to stay warm, so keep your shelters small for small colonies and use multiple small shelters for larger colonies. 

Keep in mind that 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. 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 outdoor electrical outlet, 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 feral community cats stay warm and fed this winter!