Cold weather and outside kitties

gigi7December 4, 2009

I worry so much about the outside (feral) kitties in my neighborhood. I feed some of them and have tried to take as best care of a wild cat as I can...I can't get near them. It will be in the 10-12 degree range tonight. Will they find some place warm enough? I know it's nuts, but I worry about this....sorry to be like that, but I can't sleep sometimes worrying! I feed them by my dryer vent...and have at least a little wind block, but they won't stay there. So, I'm assuming that maybe they find shelter? I want to be able to get them and have them fixed so that the problem doesn't escalate further, but they are WILD as an acre of snakes. What do I do? Anything? Thanks for any advice!

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Well, if it's cold, & they have a place with a wind block, & they won't stay in it, I'd guess they have a better place somewhere, probably hidden under a brush pile or some such.

I'd worry, too, though, & I'd probably put a box out for them with some loose hay in it.

When the weather is cold, I always try to feed "my" wild animals of the moment a little more substantially, maybe something with more fat in it.

Bless you for your kind heart!

    Bookmark   December 4, 2009 at 8:32PM
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That's exactly what I've tried to do....and sylvia, I'm in Amarillo! oh, my gosh....I feed them more wet food with dry..and some people food, too...warm, at that. It makes me so sad. Why, oh, people not take care of these precious babies! My dh is sick of this, but I can't help least I know that I'm doing something if so small...and they do have a wind block in a couple of places here, but they do what they will, I guess. I always have boxes out with the cedar chips and blankets....near the dryer vent and for once I'm doing way more laundry! Probably will wear out the machines...ugh.. Thanks SO MUCH for your'll never know how much I appreciate it!

    Bookmark   December 4, 2009 at 10:26PM
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Kathy, I feel for you. I can't stand to think of all the unloved, cold, hungry animals out there. It's been cold here in TX lately, we are in the Bandera area and have had freezes already. It even snowed Friday.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2009 at 6:37PM
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I'm maintaining a small colony of ferals, and this is what I've done for the three years since beginning.

Hooded litterpans are great little shelters in a pinch. Just cover the hood vents with something to keep rain and snow out. Pack in some straw (not hay) in and keep it in a place where the wind doesn't roar through. I now have two right at the front door and some cats camp out in them. They're always the first at breakfast.

Straw and raw sheep's wool are excellent insulators for ferals to nest into. Lacking those, hay and shredded paper are better than nothing. Also check out hunter/camper supply stores for mylar blankets. These reflect back any body heat and can save a cat's life. A wet cat cannot heat itself and can die quickly. There are also disposable heat pads which heat up through chemical reaction-in these, it's iron filings turning to rust. They produce heat for 12 to 24 hours. Excellent emergency heat sources. Look in hunter supply stores.

I converted a cheap old TV stand into a shelter. I sealed the wood, then primed then painted with spray enamels. After airing out I screwed on a front and back and hacked a door into it. I shove styrofoam sheets into it as interior walls, then fill it with straw and sheep's wool.

Even a cardboard box is better than nothing in bitter cold. Tape it shut then cut a hole near a corner (for stability). Put it in a place where the wind won't rustle it.

Persistance pays-eventually they will trust you enough to stay, or spend long epriods of time, in the places you've prepared. It took months for my colony to trust sheep's wool!

    Bookmark   December 6, 2009 at 5:37PM
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Make sure they have access to unfrozen water.

Add fat to their diet for more calories: mix cheap kibble with vegetable oil, about 1/4 cup oil to 1 cup of kibble

Here's how to build a shelter for outdoor kitties:

Take two boxes, one just big enough for a cat or two to huddle in (wine box size), and one 6 to 8 inches larger in both width and height.

Put one inside the other, and stuff the space with some crushed newspaper for insulation, then cut an opening so the cats can get into the inner box.

Wrap the shelter in a plastic trash bag to keep it dry and put it on a sheltered porch or in a garage they can get into.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2009 at 6:55PM
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Bless your hearts, dear fellow feral cat lovers

    Bookmark   December 7, 2009 at 11:36AM
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One way to add some exta warmth to any outside shelter is with one of those microwaveable "disks" that look kind of like a heavy frisbee. (They're available in many pet stores and websites.) I had a big old male cat who decided to move outside one winter (I live in New England) when we got a third dog. At first he was sleeping on a moving quilt in the back of a small utility trailer, so I improved things for him by borrowing one of those plastic "Dogloo" dog houses. I put it out on the front deck (facing away from the wind and towards the door so that I could peek out and check on him), added an old down comforter, and each morning and evening re-heated the disk and tucked it into the bedding. Elvis spent every night (and also time during the day) curled up in there for the rest of the winter, and came out every morning for breakfast warm, dry, and purring. I made sure he got extra fat and calories in his diet, and he had access to fresh water via a heated bird bath at ground level. Elvis had the thickest and most beautiful coat that winter - he was just bursting with health! By spring, the puppy had matured enough for the cat to move back into the house. I've used the disk since to add a little extra warmth for any pet who needs a little TLC when sick. Great product.


    Bookmark   December 7, 2009 at 12:04PM
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You can also make a heating pad by dumping a package of rice into a pillow case & heating it in the microwave oven until it's toasty warm.

It'll eventually cool off, but the heat lasts a surprisingly long time.

When one of my old office buddies "inherited" her mother's moth-eaten mink stole, she stuffed it into a "nest" for a feral kitty!

    Bookmark   December 7, 2009 at 5:06PM
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We made shelters out of 55 gallon PVC barrels. We have them sitting sideways on cement blocks with two doors cut into them close to the bottom (in and exit). I stuff trash bags full of styrofoam peanuts under the barrels, put blankets inside and cover the tops with outdoor furniture cushions that I secure with bungie cords. The only problem is that often the raccoons take them over and the cats won't try to use them when that happens.

We have to watch for that. When it is super frigid, we let them into the guest house at night, but often they want to stay out.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2009 at 4:31PM
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I'm so glad I'm not alone in worrying about these poor pussies. At one point I had 8 of them coming to me for food & shelter. One of them, a big ginger tom with fur so brightly coloured I used to call him 'light bulb' lived to 8 years old, quite an age for a feral cat. He got on well with my house cat and the two of them spent a lot of time together, mainly asleep on the shed roof or chasing magpies in the yard.

As per previous postings, the best you can do for these poor cats is give them access to shelter, bedding, water and food that has a high fat content at this time of year. They will make use of what they want when you're not looking. They are far too proud to let you know that they actually do need your help.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2009 at 5:53PM
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So many very kind people who have posted here! My heart goes out to any poor cat that must battle the elements especially this time of year. All 5 of our cats have been rescues over the years, (two of them were feral kittens) and all have been loving and great cats----welcome additions to our family.

You are wonderful, warm-hearted people who care for these poor unfortunate feral cats and I have great respect for all of you!

    Bookmark   December 10, 2009 at 11:14PM
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I had my hubby make me a box for our ferals out of scrap plywood that we water sealed. We put it on blocks to keep it off the ground so snow wouldn't get in the entrance and put a little ramp so he could get in it. I took old pillows and pulled the fluff out of them and put it in the box and a fleece blanket that I pull out once a week and wash for him.

The cat that uses the box is extremly feral. He has been eating here 2xs a day for 3 years and I still can't get closer than 2 feet from him.

When we first put the box out he refused to use it. I was so heartbroken we had did all this work for him and he wouldn't use it. I finally decided to put the food on the ramp and slowly move the food towards the box until finally he had to go inside to eat. Once he had ate in there a few times he decided that the box wasn't so bad after all.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2009 at 11:32PM
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