Lots of neighborhoods have “community cats”, or feral cats. It’s natural for any warm-hearted pet lover to care about these seemingly homeless animals–especially when temperatures drop. However, community cats are usually well-adapted to life outside, and when in proximity to humans, can even thrive. While some community cats can be socialized like any other house cat, some are feral at heart and prefer to live out of doors. The best thing to do is make sure that feral cats are TNRed, which will help to keep colony sizes down and fewer cats outside during the freezing cold.
But, that doesn’t solve the immediate problem of cats out in the cold. Here are three main ways you can keep them safe and warm during the winter.
Easily create a simple shelter out of household materials, such as a plastic storage bin. Make sure the bin isn’t too big–smaller spaces prevent heat from dispersing. Ensure that the shelter is waterproof, and raise your shelter using a pallet or stable rock to preserve heat and reduce the risk of the shelter getting wet inside. Make sure the shelter is well-insulated–straw (not hay!) makes a great liner for your shelter for cats to nestle down in. Cut an opening in the shelter that is just big enough for cats to keep them safe from predators, and place the shelter nearby their food station so they don’t have to travel far for to eat. Be sure to check on your shelter regularly to ensure that it is still safe and comfortable for community cats.
Provide Water – And Keep It From Freezing
Choose a dark-colored water bowl with deep, thick walls to prevent water from freezing. The dark color will help the bowl absorb heat during the day, preventing freezing overnight. You may have to check water sources regularly to make sure it hasn’t frozen over, or consider getting a heated bowl.
While community cats usually scavenge for food, that can become a lot more difficult in the winter. To help combat hunger, set out food regularly for the colony. Primal Freeze-dried can be a good option because it won’t freeze or spoil if it sits out for a short amount of time, though any dry food will do.
Thank you for thinking of your local community cats! We appreciate your warm and caring heart, and we know they do too.