How to Keep Feral and Outdoor Cats Warm and Safe in Winter

Updated on November 23, 2018
Jean Nash profile image

I adore animals (cats in particular) and love to pass along helpful information so that animals around the world can be happy and healthy.

Whether they're your beloved outside cats or just friendly ferals you care for, this article will show you a bunch of different ways to help them make it through a tough winter.
Whether they're your beloved outside cats or just friendly ferals you care for, this article will show you a bunch of different ways to help them make it through a tough winter. | Source

Contrary to popular belief, a warm fur coat does not keep you (nor a cat) warm all through the wintertime. While cats are normally independent, they do sometimes need our help to get them through the cold of winter.

This guide will tell you everything you need to know, including detailed information on building your own feeding station and cat shelter. So whether you have an outdoor cat that likes to stay that way or just want to provide some food and shelter for feral or stray cats, read on to find out how you can keep your favorite felines warm all through the cold winter months.

How Cold Is Too Cold for Cats?

It is very important to monitor the conditions your cats are living in. If they are left outside (or inside for that matter) in below-freezing temperatures, they become susceptible to serious medical conditions like hypothermia and frostbite—both of which can result in death.

Trying to pin down an exact temperature threshold for how cold is too cold for your cats is difficult, however, due to various factors, including: age, length, body mass, fur thickness, and whether they're generally an indoor or outdoor cat. But this quick guide should help you get an idea of when your feline friend might need your help.

What temperatures can cats still survive outside?

  • Indoor Cats: If your cat spends most of its time indoors and isn't acclimated to cold weather, it should probably not be left outside when the temperature drops below 45°F. Another good guideline to follow is that if your home feels too cold for you, your indoor cat probably feels the same. In which case, it's probably a good idea to turn up the thermostat or think about getting some space heaters.
  • Outdoor Cats: If your cat spends most of its time outdoors though, then it can potentially be alright down to nearly freezing temperatures. Once the thermometer drops below 32°F, however, you should definitely think about either bringing it inside or setting it up with an insulated cat shelter.
  • Kittens and Older Cats: Much like indoor cats—and whether or not they've spent most of their time outdoors—you should not leave older cats or young kittens outside when the weather drops below 45°F, especially at night.

Note: It's also crucial to keep in mind other weather elements besides just the temperature. Whiteouts and blizzards can trap and disorient cats, making it extremely difficult for them to find their way back home. This is especially important when it comes to: 1) older cats that may have vision problems like cataracts and may not be strong enough to weather aggressive storms, and 2) young kittens that are not yet familiar enough with their new homes and are more susceptible to getting lost, stuck, or stranded.

Be More Cautious With Kittens and Older Cats

Though healthy, middle-aged adult cats might be able to withstand nearly freezing conditions, young kittens and older cats should not be left outside when temperatures drop below 45°F, especially at night.

How to Help Outdoor Cats Make It Through a Cold Winter

Whether you're taking care of your own outdoor cats or just want to help some ferals or strays make it through a freezing winter season, these helpful tips will make all the difference:

  1. Build or buy a cat shelter.
  2. Set up heaters or warming pads.
  3. Provide cats with plenty of fresh food.
  4. Make sure they cats fresh water every day.

1. Build or Buy a Cat Shelter

The best way to keep your outside cat warm in winter is to have a safe place for it to sleep. A cat needs shelter during the long, cold winter nights—just big enough for a cat (or a few), but not for a dog, raccoon, possum, skunk, or other outside creatures. Personally, I have a couple of different places set up for my outside cats.

In one spot, I have an outside "closet." (Actually, this is where I got my washer and dryer.) There's a small cat door for them to go in and out. The closet provides a good windbreak. Just cutting down the amount of wind (or completely eliminating it) makes a big difference in the temperature and comfort of the cats.

Your shelter doesn't have to be elaborate to be effective.

My other shelter is an "igloo" type of shelter. Alright, it's really called a "dogloo," but I'm a cat person . . . what can I say? Anyway, the igloo is not very large, but it's insulated (warmer in winter and cooler in summer) and has a small opening. I've also placed a sleeping bag inside. That way, the cats have a warm, soft something to snuggle into, plus the sleeping bag itself is insulated for winter weather.

Where you place the igloo is important. I've set mine up in our carport, which itself provides some windbreak. My carport has walls on all three sides. Even on the coldest of winter days, I've found it can be at least five degrees warmer just being in the carport. I haven't measured the temperature in my outside cat closet, but I'm sure the difference in temperatures are similar, because it's enclosed on all four walls (with only one door for me and the cats to get in and out).

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Even simple cat shelters—such as this one made out of an old, covered litter box and lined with Mylar—can be big in helping outdoor cats make it through winter.These cat shelters are super simple and made out of just Styrofoam and straw.If you have the resources and the willingness to put in a lot of work, you can even construct elaborate, larger shelters capable of housing several cats.
Even simple cat shelters—such as this one made out of an old, covered litter box and lined with Mylar—can be big in helping outdoor cats make it through winter.
Even simple cat shelters—such as this one made out of an old, covered litter box and lined with Mylar—can be big in helping outdoor cats make it through winter. | Source
These cat shelters are super simple and made out of just Styrofoam and straw.
These cat shelters are super simple and made out of just Styrofoam and straw. | Source
If you have the resources and the willingness to put in a lot of work, you can even construct elaborate, larger shelters capable of housing several cats.
If you have the resources and the willingness to put in a lot of work, you can even construct elaborate, larger shelters capable of housing several cats. | Source

How to Build Your Own Cat Shelter

Cat shelters can be made from a host of different kinds of materials, can come in a lot of different shapes and sizes, and boast a wide range of interior designs. Here are a few guidelines to help you get started though:

Size

  • You want to keep the size fairly small, so that it can only fit one to five cats—depending on your need. Not only does this help trap the cats' body heat better, but it also helps reduce the chances of other animals trying to take over the shelter for themselves.
  • A shelter about the size of 12″ x 18″ x 12″ should be big enough to house one cat, whereas one measuring about 24″ x 24″ x 18″ should be able to house three or four. If you think you might need to provide shelter for more than four or five cats, however, it's probably best to just make another shelter.
  • Similarly, it's important to make the doorways only large enough for a single cat to fit through at a time to avoid larger predators from invading the shelter. About 5–7 inches should just about do it. (If they can get their head through the hole, then they can probably fit their whole body through.)
  • You can also add a door flap to further help trap the heat inside.
  • It's also important to make sure that the structure is weighed down enough to not blow away during a strong wind.

Interior Design

  • Non-absorbent insulation is crucial as well. The most common choice for insulation and bedding is straw, because it repels water and cats enjoy burrowing into it. But a lot of people also like to just go with Styrofoam for insulation, which is totally fine, as long as you make sure it's of the thicker and water-repellant variety.
  • You can also further reinforce the interior walls with shiny, heat-reflecting materials such as Mylar blankets or Mylar bubblepack—which you can often find at pet stores (sometimes for free).
  • If you decide to use an upcycled Styrofoam container for your base, be sure to line the walls with contact paper (or something similar) to prevent cats from accidentally clawing through it.
  • Note: Do not use hay for insulation or bedding. It soaks up moisture, is susceptible to mold, and it is just generally uncomfortable for cats. Blankets or towels are also a bad idea for the same reasons, and they can quickly become more of a detriment than a benefit.

Placement and Maintenance

  • Keep the shelter raised up off of the ground by at least a few inches. This helps conserve heat and also reduces the likelihood of insects crawling up into there or rain and snow ruining your shelter. Even something as simple as putting your shelter on top of a wood pallet will do.
  • Make sure to place the shelter in a safe place, away from high areas of foot and car traffic.
  • Ensure that the shelter is both level and sitting on stable ground. You don't want it wobbling around every time one of the cats moves a little inside.
  • If you can, try to reduce the effect of wind by facing the entrance to the shelter toward a wall, fence, or other windbreak.
  • You should routinely check in on your shelter to make sure it's still dry.
  • If the cats don't seem to be very interested in the shelter, try luring them over with catnip, silver vine, or cat treats.

If you'd like some easy walkthroughs for building your own cat shelter—or maybe just want some visual inspiration to help you get started—check out Alley Cat Allies and NYC Feral Cat Initiative. Both have very informative pages that will help you either build your own cat shelter or direct you to where to buy an already made one.

2. Set Up Heaters or Warming Pads

Depending on your budget, another great way to help keep outdoor cats warm is by having one of those enclosed oil-filled radiator heaters in your cat "closet." Since they're fully enclosed, you don't run any risk of fires, and the cats enjoy the extra heat. They usually have a couple of buttons, so you can regulate the amount of heat generated. The units are normally set up to turn on and off when a particular set temperature is reached. They usually cost under $100 and last for many years. Most home improvement stores carry them.

Another similar idea you can go with is setting up some microwaveable heating pads in your shelters or carport. They only last for a handful of hours before they need to be reheated—usually a maximum of about 10 hours, depending on the brand and temperature outside. But they can be a cheaper option for those still looking to provide some additional heat to their cat shelters.

Heated pads are a great way to help keep cats warm—even if they're indoor cats!
Heated pads are a great way to help keep cats warm—even if they're indoor cats! | Source

3. Provide Cats With Plenty of Fresh Food

Outside cats need regular feeding on a daily basis. This is necessary for two very important reasons. The first reason is that well-fed cats are better hunters. It sounds counter-productive, but in reality, a well-fed cat hunts better. A cat is only successful about 20–30% of the time that it goes out to hunt. (This is true whether you're talking about domestic cats or their larger cousins.) Cats need food on a daily basis so they can be strong enough to hunt.

Not all cats have a strong urge or desire to hunt though, let alone eat what they hunt and kill. Cats have different personalities, just like us humans do. Over the years, I've seen my own cats differing personalities—some were great mousers, some were great bird hunters, and some didn't really care to do much more than look outside the windows and be amused.

There are other factors you should keep in mind about daily feeding. Be aware of the fact that mice (and other rodents) can have diseases, parasites, worms, and other things that are not beneficial to cats and/or humans. This fact alone is a major reason why I do regular, daily feeding of my outside cats. I certainly don't want my cats getting sick because they ate a mouse with a disease or parasites!

Another reason a cat needs regular, daily feeding (and the extra calories the cat gets from the food) is because it takes more energy to keep warm and maintain their body temperature during those cold winter months. Keep in mind that it's easier to provide dry cat food for your feline friends, because it doesn't dry out, doesn't freeze, and most of the time cats will tolerate eating it. The upside of using wet food, however, is that it requires less work for their systems to digest, which in turn helps conserve energy.

How much food should I give a cat in the winter?

For a general guideline, you can expect an adult cat to eat about 200 calories a day, give or take 20–30 calories. This measures out to around 5.5 ounces of wet food with an additional ounce of dry food a day. Or if you're only using dry food, then it's about 4–6 ounces every day.

Naturally, you should adjust this allotment depending on how many cats you're feeding and how much is (or isn't) left over after they eat.

Outdoor cats will need ample fresh food and water to make it through harsh winters.
Outdoor cats will need ample fresh food and water to make it through harsh winters. | Source

How to Build Your Own Cat Feeding Station

Rather than just putting out some bowls of food, setting up an actual feeding station can help entice your outdoor cats and feral ones to stop by for some tasty meals. The video below provides a super easy tutorial on making a simple but effective feeding station. And if you're looking for something a little different, take a look at Alley Cat Allies' cool little gallery of various feeding station designs.

Here are just a few tips to keep in mind once you get to work on making your own:

Location

  • If you situate your station on an incline, rainwater and melted snow will drain out of the front. Simply adding an additional board to the back can easily achieve this.
  • Place your feeding station away from areas with lots of foot traffic and loud car noises.
  • It's also important to avoid placing your feeding station too close to your cat shelter (if both are outside and not in your carport or garage). This might invite competition and lead to fights among cats over dominance and potentially leave less aggressive cats to fend for themselves.

Maintenance

  • You should check in on your feeding station frequently so that you know how to adjust the amount of food you're putting out to avoid waste or empty bowls.
  • Regularly cleaning your feeding station often is important to prevent diseases and insects, as well as to maintain a more enticing atmosphere for the cats.

For more information, check out Alley Cat Allies' super helpful page on Building a Feeding Station and NYC Feral Cat Initiative's page on Community Cat Feeding Station Tips.

4. Make Sure Cats Have Fresh Water Every Day

Put out fresh water every day, ideally twice a day. You need to be aware of how cold it's going to get overnight, however, because water does freeze! (I'm ashamed to say how many mornings I've found frozen water in the bowls. I'm getting better at remembering though.)

Here are a few tips to help avoid ending up with useless bowls of ice:

  • Fill bowls with hot or warm water to help stave off freezing.
  • Try to place the water where it won't freeze. Put the bowl somewhere it will be at least partly protected from wind and will get at least some sunlight. You can also position it next to heat sources like grates and pipes.
  • Consider investing in a heated bowl. There are a number of great heated bowls out there, some of which plug into an electric power source, while others are solar powered.
  • If for budgetary reasons, you can't see your way clear to buy a heated bowl, then you need to put out fresh, clean water in the same place and at the same time. The cats will learn your schedule and will come to drink the water at those times. Cats do like having routines.
  • If you end up using a non-heated bowl, it's probably best to go for a thick, dark-colored one that is deep but has a small opening.
  • Another option is to go with silicone camping bowls. That way, if the water in them does end up freezing, the ice can be easily popped out and replaced with fresh water.

Use Heated Bowls for Water and Wet Food

Making sure outdoor and feral cats get enough to eat and drink is very important, and using heated bowls will help prevent water and wet food from freezing before the cats actually get to drink or eat them.

How to Get Feral and Stray Cats to Use Your Shelter and Feeding Station

If you're having trouble getting feral and stray cats to use your shelter and eat at your feeding station, here are a few tips to help:

  • Try putting out food and water at the same places and same times every day. Sticking to a routine not only helps them know when to come by, but it also increases their level of trust in you.
  • Some cats feel threatened whenever they see humans nearby. So you might want to try putting out the food and water and walking away to help them feel safer to come over and eat. (And you can always watch from afar through a window to confirm that they're the ones consuming the food and water.)
  • Regularly cleaning your feeding station and shelter might also help entice feral and stray cats to come over and visit.
  • It's also worth trying to check in on your feeding station and shelter occasionally to make sure there are no larger predators or really aggressive cats that might be scaring away other, more timid felines.

Additional Tips to Keep in Mind During Winter

  • Before you start up your car, it's a good idea to bang on the hood of your car and check underneath to make sure there aren't any cats hiding under there for warmth that could be hurt by you revving up your engine.
  • Avoid using salt or chemicals to melt snow around your property. This can hurt cats' paw pads and can be lethally toxic if slurped up from puddles or licked off of their paws. Instead, use pet-friendly deicers that can be found at most pet stores.
  • Be extra careful when using or transporting antifreeze. It can be enticing to cats, but it is extremely toxic to them. In fact, antifreeze poisoning is an unfortunately common cause for the death of many cats, often unbeknownst to the owners until it is too late. Be sure to clean up any traces of the substance you might see around your property.

Further Resources

If you're looking for some additional helpful information about how to care for outdoor cats during the winter, check out these other super useful PetHelpful articles:

Works Cited

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

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    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      3 weeks ago from TX

      Penny,

      Thank you for caring about keeping animals warm during the winter. You are taking very good, positive steps! Having something in the garage helps with wind reduction & the more severe winter elements (rain, snow, wind, etc). Also, the chicken coop heater is also good to have.

      I would hesitate to put the chicken coop heater within the tote - it gets dangerous within a closed space. Those heaters need proper space, and inside a tote (even with the front cut out) might be too much, and over-heat the tote bag. These products are made, as you said, for a small chicken coop. Chicken coops have more ventilation than a tote bag with the front cut out.

      You might want to look into a "Snuggle Safe" product. They are definitely something that can be used in your specific situation, and they heat up to 8-12 hours. My recommendation would be to buy at least 2 - that way you can have one warming things up in the tote, then switch out the pads when the first one loses it's heat.

      Hope this helps out. Again, thanks for caring enough to investigate more options to keep cats & other animals warm during the cold, cold winter!

    • profile image

      Member!Penny 

      3 weeks ago

      I have a medium sized tote that my hubby cut the front out and I placed a dog heating pad in it. I have this in my garage ...so it wont' get wet. I leave the garage door cracked so the cats can come and go. I seen where there is a 200 watt chicken coop heater that can be mounted against a wall. I was wondering if this would be good to put in the tote? The heating pad doesn't feel warm enough to me. I am worried...its really cold out tonight and I want to order this but am not sure its a good idea. They say its made for a small chicken coop. Any suggestions?

    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      9 months ago from TX

      Lily,

      So sorry you had to experience an uncaring & insensitive human - moving away and NOT taking care of her animal companions in a positive way is horrible. Kudos to you & your friend for taking care of the cats!

      I'm thrilled that my page has helped you, your friend, and most especially, the cats.

      My hope is that through education & caring folks (like yourself & your friend)...that people will finally get the message and realize we are all connected, and discover that taking care of our animal companions is just as important as taking care of ourselves & our human relatives.

    • profile image

      Lily 

      9 months ago

      There is this lady who moved out of the house on my street, she left 3 cats out in the cold snowy weather here in Ohio. Me and my friend have been feeding them and giving them water and also gave them a box with some blankets. One of the cats though, has not been seen in a few days while the other 2 are doing well. We have tried calling the city of Parma, and animal services, even the animal shelter and no one was able to help us. A few days later though the animal warden called us back and said if they are able to catch the cats they will take them to the shelter, but the cats are very nervous around humans including me and my friend. We are trying our very best to help them, feeding them everyday and giving them water everyday. I just feel so bad that there are stupid people out there and we can't stop them. We know the lady moved out because we saw her packing up stuff and now her house is empty. (We can see through the front window) Anyway this was helpful now I know how else I can help.

    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      11 months ago from TX

      Kim,

      He's coming to your shack because he's seen you've given him shelter & food, but he's still being careful. Being outside, he has to be extra careful...his survival depends on it (yes, even if you know you don't want to harm him, he doesn't know that just yet).

      Give him some more time to get to know you. If you can get somewhat close to him. Stop (before he runs off). Keep still. Let him decide to come to you or not. Being patient is hard, but it will pay off in time. After a while, he should start coming closer until he finally lets you pet him.

      Good luck. And thanks for helping a cat stay warm, safe & fed this winter!

    • profile image

      Kim 

      11 months ago

      Someone dropped a cat off at my work.. I have made it Astana house, and I feed him every day... the last two days I noticed he is coming to my shack. If I open the door, he takes off.. why is he coming up now, when if I try to get close he runs?

    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      11 months ago from TX

      Carrie,

      Thank you so much for your kind words, it's appreciated! I adore animals, cats in particular (of course). It's very important to me to pass along any information that's helpful, so animals the world around, can be happy & healthy.

      Sending blessings back at ya!

    • profile image

      Carrie 

      11 months ago

      Thank you for posting such an informative article. We need more people in the world like you. Bless you.

    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      12 months ago from TX

      Doris,

      You can Google search for suitable cat houses, and/or look at DonnaMac's comments below yours on this Hubpage. She has a great way to keep cat warm in Canada (and that's a major victory on her part!).

      "My Warm Pet" microwavable products are a great idea because they stay warm for hours (10-12), so you don't have to disturb the cat(s) too much. You might want to consider having a couple on hand - that way you can use one for the cat, and then, switch out a used one for a new heated one...rotating them so the cat stays warm all during the day AND night.

    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      12 months ago from TX

      Love All Animals,

      Thanks for commenting. I agree - using a heat lamp is a good idea, however for an outside cat, be careful using blankets. Blankets can get wet (example: raining/snowing), so check the blanket quite often so it doesn't freeze and get the cat cold in the process.

    • profile image

      Love all Animals 

      12 months ago

      Hello, Use a Heat Lamp inside a Pet House with blankets for your pet to lay on. This is good for an inside Pet and especially an outdoor Pet. A closed in porch is a good place to put a Pet House. As Mr.Bob Barker always said, “Please Spay or Neuter your Pet and a Animal that comes up to eat at your House, stays a while and then goes back off some where. It is sad to see a homeless Cat or Dog!

    • profile image

      Doris 

      13 months ago

      As far as the igloo dog house, don't you find the opening too large and more cold air gets in? I am trying to find something for 2 stray cats who have been around and I have been feeding. But I want something for the winter to keep them warm and dry. t

    • profile image

      Donna Mac 

      22 months ago

      I live in Canada and have 3 strays that live in my backyard. I made beds from the large Tupperware containers, lined them with insulation, covered that with plastic and covered that with Mylar blankets. Then put a fleecy cat mat in each one. On very cold nights I use the My Warm Pet microwaveable heat pad & slip it under the fleecy bed. Lasts for 10-12 hours. They are warm on those freezing nights! Each bed cost about $20 to make. I don't know if the heaters are really necessary as the Mylar reflects the heat back to them...but I do it anyway.

    • profile image

      warmheartedwinter 

      23 months ago

      I have never been an animal owner nor have I ever really been attached to animals in my adult life, as a child I would be heartbroken for any animal but as an adult I wasn't much into animals.. until I found this little cat outside my friends door, cold wet and hungry. he ran away from everyone who tried to pet him, something made me go outside and as soon as I did he ran straight for me and hugged my leg! he was all over me and I really broke down over him. I posted him everywhere hoping to find his home for him to be warm. but nobody came forward and my cat loving friend said he looks to be abandoned on purpose in this cold. he is so skinny. the most friendly sweet playful kitten. I live with my brother for now and he has a wife with three cats and a dog inside and they just refuse to let my kitten inside. grayz (what I named him) is in the garage, not heated but out of the wind and a bit warmer than outside. I put out blankets for him up on the fridge where he seems to be everytime I go to feed and see him. he doesn't touch the water much but scarfs down the food. I was wondering if there is something I need to be doing more, I feel like I'm letting him down.

    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      23 months ago from TX

      Bettybb,

      Sorry, forgot to say one more thing - perhaps you could also ask a neighbor to put dry food out in-between your visits to the cats. Hope all this helps.

    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      23 months ago from TX

      Bettybb,

      First of all - kudos to you for your outstanding achievement of helping so many feral cats over an extended time period! What you've done is challenging & you're to be commended for it. Many cats have survived & went on to live happy & healthy lives with loving families due to your efforts.

      Now, the hard part - suggestions for your current situation. I'm assuming you can't change your moving date & as you've stated, momma cat has a new litter of kittens (and you don't know their location), plus momma cat is hostile. Unfortunately, I don't have any bright ideas. There are hard choices to be made here.

      You have to move. OK, that's do-able. You can't find the new kittens - more than likely momma cat has hidden them very well. You're going to have to wait it out...until she either moves them where you can find them, and/or they get old enough for you to find & spay/neuter them. Hopefully, momma cat will get more friendly as time goes by so you can spay her too.

      Now, as far as feeding the little ones - poultry is OK, but not by itself. Momma & older kittens can eat that, and momma cat can suckle the new kittens. I'd use dry food in addition to the poultry. The reason is this - since it's winter, they need as much nutrition as possible. Food helps keep cats warm in the winter time. But the poultry does NOT give the cats enough nutrition that they need. The dry food will add additional vitamins, minerals & things like taurine that are essential and critical for cats.

      OK...please be aware (it might sound cruel, but it isn't) - it will be OK to feed the cats every other day (or worse case, every 2-3 days). Hopefully, you can do every other day. In the wild, cats do NOT necessarily eat every day. Cats (either large or small) are only successful in hunting approximately 30% of the time. This translates to eating every couple of days or so.

      So, the bottom line is this - feel OK about your moving, and feel as good as you can about feeding the cats every chance you can, even if it's every 2-3 days. Put down as much water as possible (maybe getting a neighbor to change out the water for the cats). And put down some dry food. Cats don't over-eat nearly as much as dogs do, so they should be OK until you can get back to them.

      I wish I had better news & suggestions for you. Life is not always easy, but know you've done your best, and will continue to do so. The cats (all of those you've helped in the past, and the current ones), me & the Divine Creator are grateful for what you've done and will continue to do.

      Hope all goes well with the move, and Momma Cat and the kittens.

    • profile image

      bettybb 

      23 months ago

      Please help. I urgently need some suggestions.

      For many years, I've taken care of the ferals on my street, getting them spayed/neutered, giving them outside shelters, and feeding them. I've taken many in and currently have seven indoor cats. But this fall, a mother cat and her two kittens moved into the neighborhood, and I believe the mother recently had yet another litter. Her other two kittens are probably about six or seven months old now.

      The problem: I'm moving next week, and I'm so worried about this mother cat and her kittens. I will only be able to get back every two to three days to bring them water and food. If I leave a lot of food out, they will eat it all quickly. If I leave water, it will freeze.

      Do you have any suggestions?

      I can't take them with me as they are way too vicious. The mother growls at me. I could take them to a local shelter, but, as I said, the mother cat likely has a recent litter somewhere out there. So I would have to wait until those kittens start making an appearance in order to nab them.

      What kind of food could I put out that would have a lot of moisture and that they would possibly eat slower? I was thinking about poultry.

    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      23 months ago from TX

      Dorothy,

      Thank you so much for your kind comments. I'm thrilled you are going to use some of the suggestions on this Hub to help you with the cats that come to your shop. You've done a great job taking care of the cats in your life. Having the cats neutered and making sure they've gotten good homes is awesome!

    • profile image

      Dorothy 

      23 months ago

      Jean

      Thank you so much for the great advice, I have a coffee shop where I have a few cats that show up, there is a couple that have each other!

      But I have one that had kittens and my sis and I trapped mama and reused the kittens, I got mama kitty fitted and kept the babies until they were ready for homes!! But mama was not going to have it and would not stay with me! So I took her back to my shop and released her and she had been coming to see me twice a day for two years now, she was nine months when I trapped her!! I'm so in love wing her and of course for her so much in the cold winter!! She now talks to us, but will not let me get too close, closer then before, but the other two that come, have kept her from coming and hanging around like she use to..

      I am going try your idea to keep her warm!!

      Thank you so much for being such a loving and helpful person!!

    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      24 months ago from TX

      Dear MommainNCMO,

      You've done a great job with a limited budget. Sometimes, it takes a Mama cat a bit of time to find the best way to take care of her babies. I can't say for sure, but this might be her second litter, and she's still "learning the ropes"so to speak (she might be discovering how to best raise the little ones).

      Anyway, here's an idea - you might want to use a SMALL bit of catnip within the shelter. Just rub a bit of catnip on the straw or wall of the shelter. Why I say use a SMALL bit is because the little ones are just that, they're very young, and you do NOT want to overdo the catnip. The catnip scent is mostly for Mama and the older kitten. If you can interest Mama & the older kitten, then it should just be a question of keeping them happy so they'll stay inside the shelter.

      I can't think of anything else to really encourage Mama cat to use the shelter. It's mostly up to her - give her some space & some time -- she should realize the shelter is a good place to keep the little ones. To help ease a bit of your worries -- just be aware that Mama and the older kitten will snuggle up with the little ones no matter where they sleep on any given day/night. All of the cats together will help keep each of them warmer (so even having them use the older upholstered chair helps because 1.) it's somewhat insulated on the bottom & the back and 2.) they have the space to snuggle up together on the chair and 3.) it's off the floor (which would allow the cold to seep into any blanket you put just on the floor)...in other words, a chair seat elevates the insulation of the chair seat so it helps to keep the cats warmer than just the floor.

      I hope all goes well & Mama cat and her kittens are warm, safe and healthy this winter. With all best wishes for all of you this Winter season!

    • profile image

      MommainNCMO 

      24 months ago

      i have four outdoor cats one is 2 and is momma to the otehr s one is 9mo.s he's her big boy and protects her and the twins and the other two are 3-4 mo.s The babies verry protected by momma and bubba, today i made a warm kitty box useing a tote and Straw also scatter straw in nooks and crannies they like to get in in my grage My garage isnt heated and i'm on a limited budget Very limited but anyway i bought a bale of straw and have two sides and the top of the sheleter incased in it Straw on top straw in small Bundles against two sides the box is on four layers of cardboard to keep off the cement floor and i even maede it with a back door for escape problem they arent useing it and it is really cold to night we had a sleet storm today i cannot heat the garage not practical as it is old and the doro dosent close right leaving a three inch gap at the bottom kittys use to get in and out but it is a wind break for them tehy like curling up in my husbands work chair a old metal office chair with upholstered back seat and arm rests instead of the box how can i make the warm kitty box more appealing? I dont want my babies freezeing though they are feral and i can only touch the nine month old and one four month old and only a storke or two they are loved and well fed with room temp watter at least once a day I try for twice but their are times its not possible any advice on getting them to use the shelter ?

    • profile image

      Jean 

      2 years ago

      Hi Jonelle,

      There can be many reasons why your friendly stray cat now won't go near his new shelter. It could be another cat, or another animal (possum, raccoon, skunk, etc.) has gone and investigated his shelter & left their scent all over it. If this is the case, once their scent dissapates, he'll go in & re-scent the shelter & he'll reclaim the shelter as his.

      There could be some "off-gassing" of whatever materials make up the rubbermaid house. Some plastics & other synthetic materials let go molecules as the material(s) which make up the shelter grow older/age. For example: when you purchase a new carpet for your home, some carpets let go of the formaldehyde within the carpet or the carpet padding. This should only last a short period of time.

      I'm not able to say with any certainty which, if any, of the above is your correct answer. Could be one, several, or something else entirely - which is why your stray cat isn't going near the shelter.

      Be patient. Give him some time. Hopefully, he'll decide to return to the shelter...as long as he deems it safe, he should return. Perhaps, in the meantime, you could provide him with an alternative shelter...that way, he'll have somewhere to go & keep warm right now. And then, in a little while - he'll have the choice as to which shelter he prefers to stay in.

      Most cats do prefer to change where they sleep every now & again. This is a part of their nature. Once he lets you know his preference(s), the other shelter can provide an opportunity to keep another cat warm in winter.

      Hope this helps.

    • profile image

      jonelle kanouse 

      2 years ago

      I made a friendly stray cat a rubbermaid house and bought hem a bed to keep him warm for the winter, he went inside it for about 3 days and loved it, now he won't go near it. There is a bed in it and a bale of straw all around it. Anyone have any thoughts on this

    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      4 years ago from TX

      Dear VWSouza,

      It's understandable your feral cat doesn't like to be confined. In fact, he/she might not ever like confinement. That being said, you've done very well scenting the Kitty Tube with catnip. Most cats like catnip, so that's a great move on your part. I've only come across one or two cats in my 60 years that didn't like catnip much.

      The only other tips I have for you would be patience, patience and more patience. If you try to force things, the cat WILL resist. The idea (as you have grasped) is to get the cat more familiar with the Kitty Tube so he'll use it.

      When he's around the Kitty Tube, use a nice soft voice and praise him, talk to him - which should help get the cat used to & associate positive feelings around the Kitty Tube. Then it's just a waiting game on your part to see if he will use it or not. The nature of a cat is sometimes contrary.

      Wish I could be of more assistance. Hope this helps.

      Jean

    • profile image

      VWSouza 

      4 years ago

      I have a feral cat and providing him with a nice, warm shelter is my #1 concern. I bought this - http://superblog.co/the-kitty-tube-outdoor-cat-hou... - recently and I'm quite happy with it. The design is top-notch, the top fits securely so there are no leaks when it's raining, and there is Styrofoam insulation all around the shell including a top baffle to keep the cat super warm inside. The top lid rotates to open or close a set of holes which act as vents. This outdoor cat house comes with a really plush bed that looks and feels soft and comfortable. It's made from lightweight plastic and is very easy to carry and move around. It's also non-obtrusive and doesn't stand out like a sore thumb so that's another plus as well.

      My only issue with it is that the cat I'm trying to shelter is feral and doesn't really like to be confined - at least not yet anyway. I purchased two outdoor heating pads and placed one inside The Kitty Tube and the other one on top of a patio chair. So far the cat seems to like the chair better even as the temperatures have dropped in the low 20s the last few nights. I'm assuming it's because the cat is more familiar with the chair and has seen The Kitty Tube only for a few days. I tried enticing it with cat nip but so far he's only gone inside The Kitty Tube for about a minute or so at a time. If you have any tips on how I can make him use The Kitty Tube that would be super! Thanks in advance...

    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      4 years ago from TX

      Marian,

      Wow...that's a puzzler for sure. I can think of a few reasons, but I'd be hard pressed to say for certain, which of them (or perhaps something else) is the cause of her not going into her house. Obviously, there's a strong reason for her not to go into a warm house in the cold winter.

      1. It could be that another animal has used the house & has it's scent all over it, and is causing her to not want to invade the take-over animals "territory." Could be another cat or another animal species.

      2. Possibly, she's found another location/home that she prefers.

      3. She could be coming to the house & you are not around at the time to notice. Could be she's had a litter of kittens and has them in another location & she's not ready to move them yet.

      Could be any one, combination of, or another reason(s) entirely. While, I know this is little consolation for you, especially when it's bitter cold outside - know that she will go where-ever she's most comfortable & warm. She's NOT going to let herself suffer if she can possibly help it.

    • profile image

      Marian 

      4 years ago

      I bought my outdoor cat a cedar insulated house that she has used for 2 years... I have a bed inside and keep it fresh and clean as much as I can... howevr this winter she has decided not to use it... it has been extremly cold in Pennsylvania and I am worried sick that she wll freeze... when the snow comes she leaves and I do not know where she goes... I two cat beds sitting on bathroom rugs that she sleeps on... but she will not go into the house... I ought a new bed and put it in today but she chooses to sleep in the open area... do you have any idea why she would all of sudden not go into her house? Bewildered...

    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      4 years ago from TX

      Samjsp & Carole,

      Cats will seek out comfort and their best interests if at all possible. Keeping an animal dry in the winter-time is crucial to their health and well being. Depending upon the humidity levels, a warmer should dry up a damp blanket, but will take a VERY long time if it's more than just damp. Hopefully, the cat will find the straw filled shelter to be more to his/her liking.

      Putting a barrier between the floor & any bedding is important. Something like a trash bag, then styrofoam, then the bedding will help. Also, if you elevate the whole thing OFF the floor entirely, this helps tremendously. I'm not sure, Carole what you mean by "having a booder over him"...so if you mean a heat style lamp, yes, this would be very helpful in keeping him warm in the wintertime.

    • profile image

      Carole 

      4 years ago

      I have my cat in the garage and i have a booder over him which is on a timmer..now i noticed that when i lifted his pillow there was moisture between the pillow and the blanket he was lying on it hasn;'t done throught to touch him but i am concerned it looks like condensation. Should i put a sheet of styrofoam under his cat bed?

      let me know soon ok?

    • profile image

      samjsp 

      5 years ago

      Thank you for the quick response.

      Do you think the kitty will be OK with the mattress cover blanket if she chooses not to use the straw filled shelter? I was hoping the warm water bottles will dry up the blanket. Do you think so? Thanks again!

    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      5 years ago from TX

      samjsp,

      Thank you for your very kind comments. I'm thrilled you have gotten value out of my Hub (which is the reason why I wrote it in the first place). I adore animals, especially cats, and it does my heart good to know in some small way, I've helped cats and their human companions with this Hub.

      My thanks to all the readers and writers of comments to my Hub. Your comments have taught me SO much, and have helped countless companion animals. Many blessing to all (human and animal).

    • profile image

      samjsp 

      5 years ago

      Jean,

      Thank you so much for having this hub! Such great and helpful tips in keeping an outdoor kitty warm for the winter. Thanks again!

      A cat has found our family about a week and a half ago. I'd like to bring her into our home until I find her owners, but haven't yet so I think she may be a common "drop-off". It's obvious that she was once someone's pet. After reading all of the comments left here, I've come up with a shelter for her. Before bed, I warm up her water and she has warmed up wet food, and gets a cup of dry food every morning. For the shelter, we took a dog crate made for a medium sized dog, took carpet remnants and covered up the air vents, then covered it with a towel and my son's sleeping bag. For the inside, there's a thick layer of straw, and a twin size mattress cover. At night, I heat up several 20 ounce pop bottles with hot water and line the bottom of the crate, underneath the straw and it seems to hold the heat a little better. There is a "lean-to" made of heavy plastic over the shelter to block more wind and the snow. It seems to help alot. Because I've read that having a blanket isn't a good idea, there's a smaller shelter with only straw in it. She doesn't use it and can tell because the straw hasn't been disturbed. I hope she doesn't develop any sickness from a damp blanket. But the option of straw is available to her.

      It gets pretty cold here in New York, and I'm waiting to get her to trust us enough to be able to take her to the vet. We are going to try to bring her inside, and in the meantime, getting my 3 indoor jealous cats used to her at a distance. We bring her in for about half hour a couple times a day and hold her while she warms up and the other cats to at least get a glimpse of her and get familiar. Alot of growling and hissing going on the entire time. I am hoping that they all get used to each to other very soon! Breaks my heart that she's out in the cold all night. I've talked to the local animal shelter, but there is a 3 page waiting list for cats due to the overcrowding. Very sad situation, and I'm afraid to admit that it's like that at the majority Humane Societies.

      A note to everyone who has posted the comments: Thank you so much for all of the great advice, and your amazing love for these homeless beautiful cats. Very much appreciated. And thank you Jean, for starting this hub so everyone can share ideas and not get off topic like most I've seen.

    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      5 years ago from TX

      Dear Mom of 4,

      Since you have limited space & resources, the best way to keep them warm would be to use straw. Straw is a great insulator & doesn't take up much space. You could get some straw from places like - farms, craft stores (used in Fall displays), friends/family with horses and/or cattle. Even a small amount used in the double house you have for them would greatly help with keeping them warmer during the cold winter nights.

      Hope this helps you and your brood of 4 cats keep warm this winter. Also, I hope your situation improves so you all have a more stable place to spend your lives together.

    • profile image

      mom of 4 

      5 years ago

      I am leaving out of my car with my four cats ther have a double house/scraching post to stay warm in but on realy cold nights I am worry they will get sick can u help me make my car warmer for them

    • profile image

      Connie, Mi 

      5 years ago

      I also put this at the corner of the house, where it`s protected on 2 side and also put a blanket over the pads so they can cuddle. Cost about 200 dollars but will last for years. In late spring I take it in the grage for the next year.

    • profile image

      Connie, Mi 

      5 years ago

      I have 2 stray female cats that I had fixed as soon as possible. I purchased a very large, hard plastic dog carrier, took the door off. Wrapped it in foam rubber outside, taped down. Over that I put a 60 gal. garbage bag to keep out the cold and wind. Purchased a cat warmer pad that when they lay on it , it heats up. I put their food and water in it, water 3 times a day so it wont freeze. I put this house on a large pallet so it`s off the ground and put it on my deck in winter. I think they are very warm and happy during the cold winter up here.

    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      5 years ago from TX

      L. Gibson,

      Two very good ideas.! Many thanks for posting your comment with great directions on how exactly you kept the stray cat warm. I've no doubt she appreciates all your efforts to keep her warm in winter (and of course, you feeding her helps alot too).

      Kudos to you!

    • profile image

      L. Gibson 

      5 years ago

      I have a stray outdoor cat and we live in the North East. The poor thing has been so cold, but I cannot bring her in as I have another skitterish cat and I don't feel it is fair to do that to mine.

      I feed her all day long so she is around a lot and it is hard to watch her begging to come in.

      So we came up with two ideas....and both would work well.

      I had an extra covered kittie litter box. Putting it outside, we covered it with a piece of plastic so the vent wouldn't get wet and two heavy blankets. Then I went to Home Depot and bought a cable that warms water pipes in the freezing temps so the pipes don't freeze. (6 Ft. for the small enclosed area.)

      Lining the kittie litter box with heavy silver foil, I ran the cable around the bottom of the box and then put a soft towel on top of it. Please note that it is important to keep the thermostat near the opening because it only works when it detects the cold air. We taped it in place, while keeping it out of a direct line in case it rained. The cable for pipes is an indoor product.

      We therefore cut a small hole to attach an outdoor extension cord through the box to the cable.

      This morning instead of the cat being there for her food at 6 AM, she slept in! LOL!!! When she finally did come out at 8 A.M. for her breakfast, I felt the box inside and it was actually toasty warm. YEA!!!!

      Another thought is to go to a grain and feed store. They have red lamps for brooding. It is a heat lamp and can be directed at a box without burning it...just adding warmth.

      Not sure of what kind of box, so please check that out.

      Hope this helped.....I am so grateful to have a happy cat now. She spent the whole 'freezing' day in her box..

    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      5 years ago from TX

      Msds12,

      Good to hear that you check the rugs more than once a day. You can never be too careful. Again, kudos for taking such good care of your cats and dogs.

    • profile image

      Msds12 

      5 years ago

      I check rugs every time I go in, usually 3 to 5 times a day, I have it where no rain can get to the rugs, and I wash them on a regular basis, I also live in east texas so it never gets too too cold, I read thru all the comments and there ate lots f great suggestions. The heated cat beds are on top of the bath rugs just for extra insulation from the bottom, I keep dry ones on hand when they need to be changed out.

    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      5 years ago from TX

      Msds12,

      Thanks for doing what you can for your animals & strays that show up & need food and water. Kudos to you.

      You might want to make sure any rugs, blankets, etc. that are in your enclosure during the winter months do NOT get wet. This could lead to some very unwanted & unpleasant results for your animals. It could potentially harm them (they could get sick or injured). You might want to look over some of the excellent comments left on this Hub. There are some great alternatives to blankets/rugs as insulation...for example, straw is a great insulator.

      Again, thanks for taking care of animals during the cold, winter months, and thanks for your comments, they are appreciated.

    • profile image

      Msds12 

      5 years ago

      So many great suggestions on here. I have 4 cats as well as 2 dogs, all rescues, all spayed & neutered and all very well loved, I would have more but can't afford them. But feed any animal that shows up since I believe all animals need food and love.

      We recently built an outdoor cattery, we keep our 4 cats inside and they all seem to enjoy their new home. I found a 5 foot x 10 foot dog kennel on clearance, had some concrete pavers so put them on the ground inside cage for floor also to protect them from digging out or anything digging in, wrapped the entire cage, sides and top in chicken wire so they would not get their heads stuck in the fencing, covered top and one long side plus half of back with plastic tarp to keep them dry and safe, bought a large 4 shelf plastic shelf, put beds on top 3 and food on the bottom, also put an old cabinet with doors which we cut an opening in the top right side an bottom left side for doors, I put cut up bathroom rugs on each of the 3 shelves which also have holes cut so they can go top to bottom when they want, this gives them a complete private place when there is a storm or loud noise or strangers about. We built a litterbox cover out of old pallets that serve as a litter box cover as well as a perch to lie on it is about 2ft wide by 3 feet long and 3 feet high. Also hung up a cardboard tube on one side that they love to play in as well as sleep in.they also have cedar posts for scratching posts. Had a fan mounted in one corner during the summer which seemed to keep them cool. When the cold weather got here we placed plastic tarps inside from top to bottom on the other 2 open sides as well as the door, we left a 2 x 4 open space for fresh air and light as well as them being able to see outside. I do raise the door flap when it is warm to let them see more. I also bought the pet safe heated pads which they all love and it seems to keep them warm, I feed them wet food every morning, dry food is available at all times, fresh water daily, cleaned litter box daily and lots of affection. We weren't sure the cats would like being in a cage but they seem to love being inside an enclosure safe from the dogs, kids and elements. I know of the dangers of outside kitties and wanted mine to be safe, they ave been in their new home since July 2012 and they are happy, feed, warm & safe. I can now make sure they are taken care of and not hurt or injered. I know this is not an option for everyone but it works great for us.

      Thank you so much to all of the others who try their best to take care of our animal friends, without each of us doing what we can no matter on what scale there would be many unhappy animals. I wish one day everyone would be more kind to them.

      PS my dogs are also treated well and know they are loved.

    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      6 years ago from TX

      Kate,

      Glad you like this Blog. Here are some ideas that should help you keep Boo warm.

      First of all, you might check out stores like "Family Dollar," "Dollar General" and any other "discount" type of store. They should carry inexpensive tables that are sturdy enough to hold the insulated box you made.

      Secondly, just in case you are handy making things (or know someone who is)...here's a link to some outstanding winter shelters that are great in keeping cats warm, even in very cold temps & snowy winters.

      http://www.treehouseanimals.org/site/DocServer/fer...

      Now, lastly - please be aware, the down fabric you are using will get wet should there be alot of snow. Boo will track snow as he comes & goes from the box. This is NOT what you want to have happen. If Boo has a damp/wet bed to sleep on, this will put him at rick for getting an upper respiratory infection or worse. The best insulating material to use in an outdoor shelter is STRAW.

      Straw is an excellent insulating material, and does not get moldy (like hay does). Just something I thought you should be aware of.

      Hope all this helps.

    • profile image

      Kate 

      6 years ago

      I have been taking care of feral cats at my home for 5 years now and have successfully adopted 3 of them inside. I have gotten most of the ferals outside neutered and recently adopted another one who was very sick and was not able to save and had to have her put to sleep. I only had her for a month and it broke my heart. I have a large male tom cat who always seems to bring home another girlfriend to keep him company and I am always worried about him in the winter. He has be around for 6 years. This year he seems to want to come in but then gets skittish and goes back outside. In the past he has stayed in the garage but doesn't want to this year. My solution to keeping him warm this year has been a trial but I came up with this solution:

      I bought the cheapest covered litter box I could find with the front flapping door. I then put some old down fabric on the floor (there is not much room, you have to make sure the cat can still get in and out of the door) and covered the the outside of the litter box first with some warm insulating fabric (whatever you choose and your budget allows) and then covered the whole thing with a waterproof tarp. I have it push up against the front of the garage door where there is a bit of a wind break and so far Boo just loves it. He is always in there sleeping, only coming out to lay in the sun or to eat his wet fishy food and Fancy Feast Kibble (better than the inside cats because I feed bad he has to be outside). I hope this helps someone else. You can use any kind of container as long as the cat can get in and out and it is warm.

      My only problem is that with the snow coming, I don't know what to do. I don't have anywere to put this that it will be above the ground. Any suggestions? Thanks for this great blog.

    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      6 years ago from TX

      SueAnn,

      Great going! You're a wonderful person for caring for those 3 cats and being responsible for their spay/neuter and immunizations. This is SO important, so thanks for stepping up and doing the best thing for all concerned.

      Since the igloo is in the barn & up in the hay loft, you don't have to get an igloo which only just fits the cats. Heat does rise, so that's a positive factor in the keeping cats warm. I'd get an igloo which allows all 3 cats to be comfy inside, with maybe a bit of "wiggle" room, but not too much.

      Barns (as I'm sure you well know) can still get quite cold in the winter. An igloo with just a little bit of room for the cats to move around a bit & re-settle in a different sleeping position is just about the right size.

      Oh, and before I forget, please do NOT put towels or blankets in there. (I know you mentioned learning about this, but want to emphasize the importance of this.) Straw is the best. Cats can then snuggle up and burrow into the straw & keep warmer that way.

      Hope this helps!

    • profile image

      SueAnn 

      6 years ago

      There are 3 cats that I love at the barn where I board my horse. I have taken over their car, spay/neuter, immunizations. I thought I would purchase them an igloo this winter and I wondered what size I would need for 3 fairly good sized cats. They are fed dry and canned food and they are still the best mousers around, no mice in my barn. I would love to take them home but husband is allergic. I was going to put old towels or blankets in there, but not now, thanks for the info. Igloo is inside the barn up in ay loft

    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      6 years ago from TX

      Bridget,

      Great comment on an inexpensive way to keep cats warm during winter. (If you look thru all the comments and the links on this Hub, you'll find more inexpensive ways to do shelters.)

      There certainly is more than one way to get and/or build an inexpensive shelter for your cat(s). Depending on your budget, there are some alternative ways to keep cats warm during the winter months (some ranging from "cheap" to pricey). It's all up to what you want to do, and how much "do it yourself" you want or can do.

      Thanks so much for leaving us your thoughts & the very helpful way to help our cat companions!

    • profile image

      Bridget 

      6 years ago

      I just wanted to share a really good, CHEAP shelter I learned about from an organization in Michigan that specializes in helping ferals.

      If you go to PetSmart or one of those types of stores, they will give you a Styrofoam container that their fish shipments come in. Go to Lowe's, Home Depot, or some other home improvement store and buy a roll of mylar insulation (around $14). It looks like bubble wrap but it's silver. Cover the inside of the container with the mylar, put some straw on the bottom ($5-$7 at a feed store or nursery) and cut a hole in the container. Both the mylar and straw will cover multiple shelters. The mylar reflects that cat's heat to help keep the shelter warm and the straw allows the cat to "nest". If you have absolutely NO money, at least setting out one of the styrofoam containers will provide protection from moisture and wind. Just remember to weight it down since an empty styrofoam box will easily blow around.

    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      7 years ago from TX

      LucyDann,

      You're certainly welcome! Glad to hear your cat is doing well & that your close friend has adopted a cat (who is also doing well it seems).

      As I said above, just remember...patience and LOTS of love go a long way with feral and stray cats. Who knows what will transpire over time? After a while, your lovely "wild girl at heart" just might decide that outside is for younger cats and start wanting to come inside more and more. Just keep your options open.

      With all Best Wishes for you & your cat, and for your close friend and her newly adopted cat as well.

    • profile image

      lucydann 

      7 years ago

      Jean, thanks so much for your reply! My close friend just adopted her own cat (he was indoors for a short while with his first mom, but sadly, she passed away and he got loose in the complex)and we came up with using her outdoor chair cushions in the form of a "teepee" Buddy seems to take to it more every day. He's loving the outdoors at the moment, so this seems to be working out. As for my girl...The best place would probably be in the bushes in front of our units. She is VERY much an outdoor cat and the elements don't seem to faze her. I would love to make her an indoor kitty, but the look in her eyes says "wild girl at heart.."

    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      7 years ago from TX

      D. Cox,

      Thanks for adopting a feral cat & putting up a warm shelter for him.

      Feral cats are normally skittish - it's an excellent protective characteristic to have. With ferals and strays, you have to have LOTS of patience and love. After some time, your adopted feral will see that the warm shelter is still there for him, as well as food (and I hope water somewhere close to the shelter, too).

      Once he sees that he has what he needs to better survive, he will use the shelter. Remember, cats are secretive...just 'cause you don't see him use the shelter, doesn't mean he doesn't use the shelter. Luckily for us (and cats), cats like their comfort and will seek to be as comfortable as they can be. I've no doubt this includes using the warm shelter you've provided.

      Oh, and before I forget...you are most certainly welcome. Thanks for reading my Hub.

    • profile image

      D. Cox 

      7 years ago

      I too have adopted a feral cat. I recently set up an warm outdoor kennel for him but he will not go inside. I"ve put bedding and food in there to lure him. He will eat but quickly leaves. Will he instintively go in and stay in when it gets cold?

      Thank you for this thread!

    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      7 years ago from TX

      Good for you LucyDann for adopting a stray/feral kitty & then going the extra mile and having her spayed. Kudos to you!

      You might want to look at the comment I made just above your first comment here on my Hub. It's got two really good links to sites that show how to build shelters that are within most budgets & are reasonably priced.

      Since I don't know all the details of your community & complex, it's a bit hard to tell you how to make a shelter inconspicuous as possible. You might want to make your shelter smaller, but still accessible so your adopted kitty doesn't feel trapped "inside."

      Most ferals & strays do NOT like feeling trapped, so this would be a prime factor to take into consideration, no matter what type of shelter you might want to make or buy for her.

      The only other suggestion I have is perhaps you might want to camouflage the shelter...perhaps doing it by placing some shrubs around it (example: pampas grass or other thick and/or tall shrubs).

      Hope all this helps you. Hope you and your kitty have a long, happy and healthy life together. (Also...here's hoping with patience and lots of love, you can convince her to become an inside only kitty.)

    • profile image

      lucydann 

      7 years ago

      Hello, Jean. I live down in South Florida and we have many stray and feral kitties in the complex where I live. I adopted one last year, she's since had her first (and only since we got her spayed)litter of kittens who have been successfully adopted as housekitties. She's still very much an outdoor cat and it gets cold down here too during the winter season, albeit not as cold as up north! How can I make as inconspicuous as possible shelter for my girl? The community I live in tolerates the feeding of stray/feral within reason. Thanks for your compassion!

    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      7 years ago from TX

      Hi Emily,

      Good for you wanting to help stray cats stay warm this winter! You can get a great overview of how you can help the cats by reading all the great comments in this Hub. There are some inexpensive ways to keep cats warm in winter.

      Bobwired (see comment above) has some good & inexpensive ideas, and the following links are also good resources for keeping cats warm throughout a cold winter night -

      http://www.pacthumanesociety.org/core/WinterShelte...

      This gives great ideas with details on how to build winter shelters inexpensively.

      http://www.neighborhoodcats.org/HOW_TO_FERAL_CAT_W...

      Also very good information on how to build winter shelters for cats, but also has great info on other alternatives for shelters, insulation, and what to do in extreme cold.

      Also, Emily - you mention the cats run when they see you. Whether they're strays or ferals, they are scared of human contact (for whatever reasons). The main thing is to be as patient with them as possible. It's mostly a matter of time. You need to show them by your actions that you are a caring & loving human, that only has their best interests at heart.

      After a passage of time, they should come to trust you more. This subject alone is a huge topic and I could go on for a long time. The bottom line is - love and patience are the major factors in whether or not you gain the cats trust.

      Day by day, with good food, clean water, warm shelter, and being patient and loving, they should see you as someone they can get closer to.

      Thanks for visiting my Hub. Hope this helps you.

    • profile image

      Emily 

      7 years ago

      I too love cats! There are several stray kittens that run around my apartment unit and winter is finally here. I am worried about the poor things getting cold. I am a college student living off of loans so I cant afford to buy heated beds. What is the cheapest way to keep these kitties warm? Also, they run when they feel like I have came to close to them. How can I gain their trust?

    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      7 years ago from TX

      Allyssa,

      First of all - my most sincere apologies for not replying to you sooner. All I can say is that it's been WAY too busy at work, so I am sorry it took me a long time to respond to you. (you can see above, that I usually reply very quickly to folks).

      Anyway, GOOD FOR YOU for taking care of the cats in your backyard and basement! Spaying & neutering the cats is very important, so you've done a great thing in taking care of it quickly.

      As far as finding a solution - you might want to see if anyone in your family or neighborhood would like to adopt the cats. You might also want to ask your Vet if she/he would allow you to put up a sign in their clinic to see if any of the other people who go to that Vet would like to adopt the cats.

      Also, you might want to ask your Vet if they are aware of any "No Kill" shelters in your immediate area. That way, if there are no people who are willing to adopt the cats, then you can feel better about putting them in a shelter that won't kill the cats.

      Hope this helps you.

    • profile image

      allyssa 

      7 years ago

      theirs been cats in my backyard and in my basment my mom is allergic to them so my mom cant do laundry and cant wath tv , so i have to do laundry. also my room is in the basement my papillon goes wild and when im asleep they always pick on her and they sleep with me so my puppy cant sleep wit me anymore.i call the vet every month to spay and neuter them and also with my own allowents i buy them food and boels it costs me 100$ in 2 weeks i feed them every day and give them water every day. theirs 1 kitten i have to buy milk witch is 7 bucks could you help me find a soloution, i dont whant to send them to the spca.

    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      7 years ago from TX

      Flower Girl,

      Thanks for your kind words. Arizona cats are fortunate to not have extreme cold in the wintertime, but I'm sure it's a challenge to keep them cool in the summer. Just remember, cats DO need daily, fresh water - especially in the summer. This helps them stay cool. Also, that kitty closet will help provide some needed shade.

    • profile image

      Flower girl 

      7 years ago

      Its like my state has own natural heater. Here in Arizona, its always hot for the current season, OH summer is miserable!!!!!!!! But 57 degrees in the winter! Still, my cats are freeezing on our cold tile floor! Thank you so much for the advice! I'll set up a kitty closet. I suppose there is one good thing about Arizona. My cats automaticly stay warm in the winter!:)

    • profile image

      Shyloh Needs Canary Supplies 

      7 years ago

      Thank you for sharing this information and I'm sure my cat's will too. I just stocked up on canary supplies in case my heat shuts off again. I have a horrible house for the winter months!

    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      7 years ago from TX

      Sammie,

      First of all, please be aware that most feral (wild) cats are very shy & it's hard sometimes to catch even short glimpses of them, at all. That being said, it's now Springtime, and more than likely, the kittens are completely weaned from the Momma cat.

      Most feral cats keep their kittens for a while after they're weaned. Mainly to teach them some more hunting & other survival skills. However, after this, most "teenagers" leave Momma & go out on their own.

      Cats of any age, don't always fair well outside. The statistics say feral cats only live from 3-5 years, depending on several factors. While I personally dislike to be pessimistic, these are the facts of life outside.

      Here's hoping that all the kittens found good humans to take them inside, neuter them & keep them inside, safe, well taken care of, and loved.

    • profile image

      sammie 

      7 years ago

      ive had kittens in my backyard in the summer then the weather had changed to winter now its getting warmer and i havent saw the kittens at all ive seen the momma cat but not the kittens im afraid they didnt survive what do u think???

    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      7 years ago from TX

      Misty39,

      While there are horror stories about cats (and other animals) being used as lab experiments, I also know there are people who honestly care about animals. Since I don't know where you are getting your info about "no such thing as a no kill shelter" I can't really respond appropriately. All I can say at this point is I AM aware, personally, of shelters that ARE truly "no kill."

      God bless you for taking in a "lab tested" cat and taking care of her. I've no doubt her last little bit on this physical, Earthly plane was made much better for your care. Also, kudos for taking care of the stray cat in your area. I'd suggest you put straw & NOT hay around the bench, since straw is the better insulator. (you might want to browse around all the comments on this Hub, there are some awesome suggestions for keeping cats warm).

    • Misty39 profile image

      Misty39 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts USA

      I was told there is no such thing as a No Kill shelter;what they do is;their doors are always open to all or any animals but they are automatically put to sleep because of the over abundance of animals being brought into the shelters daily.If we could all share information nation wide & web wise,we can share the fact that doctors are telling millions of patients they are allergic to their pets,from there they are surrendered to the shelters and further on labs buy all these pets for the severity of lab tests then if they survive they are sent back into shelters to be adopted.I adopted a lab tested cat and she was some suffering sickly sweet little cat.She only lived for six weeks because her kidneys collapsed,all of her teeth were removed.

      I also have a stray cat coming here,it won't come in the house at all so I made an awsome make shift house for him/her I nailed a board on my patio railing for the roof then put hay all around the surrounding park bench I have out there on the patio then in the seat it self I put loads of old towels,blankets then a cats half closed bed, lined with fleese then I put an old sewing machine out next to my park bench then put three tarps coving 80% of the park bench and made sure they were secured down in case of very strong winds,I used a lot of pavers,bolders etc. for securing the tarps,the cat stays in there very comfortably,the only thing he/she needs now is a night light.I always say;where there's a will there's a way. God bless........... :o)

    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      7 years ago from TX

      Bobwired,

      Thanks for leaving a comment & for leaving great ideas for helping to keep cats warm during the wintertime. It certainly gets EXTREMELY cold in the Chicago area (did my Master's degree up in Evanston, so I know from experience); and what you've done is an outstanding & economical solution.

      Your suggestions are fantastic! This will give the readers of this Hub even more ways to help their furry companions warm.

    • profile image

      Bobwired 

      7 years ago

      I have provided care to many outside stray cats that have found me here in the Chicagoland suburban area during the past several years and I wish to share what I have found to be a good insulating material for lining the insides of outdoor cat shelters, whether they are cardboard boxes or storage containers (my favorite because they're waterproof) or other fabricated shelters. The sporting goods stores sell 2' x 2' exercise puzzle mats that are made of a high density foam, which can be purchased in a 6-piece package (24 total sq. feet). I buy the ones that are 3/4" thick at a local Sports Authority store. They are very easy to cut and shape with a pair of scissors and do not leave any styrofoam-like clinging particles. I lay several down on my backyard deck near my patio door, interlocked end-to-end, year-round and found that the cold of the winter and the sun's heat in the summer does not radiate through them. Snow will brush right off and they do not absorb rain water. I also assembled some of the mats on my (unheated) attached garage floor and I can walk on them in my stocking feet without feeling the winter cold coming through the concrete, and it is -4 F. outside right now. It makes for a more comfortable place for my current feral cat, who found me 10 months ago, to come in from the elements for his daily meal, although after he is done eating he still prefers to return outside and curl up on one of the mats out back.

    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      7 years ago from TX

      Purrsy,

      Wow - both of your links are wonderful! Went to both of them and each one has outstanding suggestions. Excellent instructions & good pictures add to the value of both sites. The second website link mentions one of my favorite products - the SnuggleSafe. It's a disc you heat up in the microwave for a few mintues & it stays warm for several hours. I recommend having at least 2 - one in use for the night and then in the morning, you heat the other one up and use the newer, warm one for the daytime.

    • profile image

      Purrsy 

      7 years ago

      Jean,

      Yes, I did visit your link. Here is another good one that gives you instructions on how to build them along with some great info: http://www.neighborhoodcats.org/HOW_TO_FERAL_CAT_W...

      Another thing I have found that works great on those extremely cold night for those that don't have a lot of money to spend are hand warmers that you can buy at many different stores. I even have baked a potato and placed in the corner of a house with the straw hiding it. My dad used to tell us how he had to walk a long distance to school and how his mom would put baked potatoes in his coat pockets to keep his hands warm.

      I have included this link because it also gives some good ideas for food shelters:

      http://indyferal.org/index.php?page=shelters

    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      7 years ago from TX

      Purrsy,

      Very good point! There are some great resources for cat shelters by Google-ing them. Have you visited the following link? It's got some outstanding ideas.

      http://www.pacthumanesociety.org/core/WinterShelte...

      If you know of any other excellent links, please let me know. Also, I couldn't agree with you more - blankets can draw heat AWAY from a cat's body, especially when wet. Thanks for leaving this reminder for the readers of my Hub.

    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      7 years ago from TX

      David,

      Thanks for leaving some great ideas for keeping cats warm during the winter. I really love the fact you make sure the light bulb is sheltered & protected from accidental shattering from cats shaking off the wet from their fur.

      Also, I appreciate you pointing out that cats need good food sources so they can stay warm during wintertime. It takes extra calories to do this. And, of course - kudos for keeping a heated water bowl for them! Those Canadian winters can be brutal, but you seem to have all the bases covered for keeping our cat companions warm.

    • profile image

      Purrsy 

      7 years ago

      If you google feral cat shelters there are many affordable ideas for shelters for cats. I have made a few with the 2 inch styrofoam. I also paint and glue a big piece of plywood onto the shelter to give them a "roof". I also have built a couple from the Rubbermaid storage containers, the only difference is I don't use the second storage bin. I find a sturdy cardboard box and glue(using low odor glue) the thinner sheets of stryofoam( I found them at Home Depot) all around the box then stick it into the bigger Rubbermaid container. I always use straw too. Blankets can actually draw a cats body heat away from them especially if it gets wet. You can also make windbreaks with the stryofoam sheets by making them longer on one side. Styrofoam is a good insulator. You can also glue the mylar (found this at Walmart in the camping department for 2 dollars) to the walls and ceiling of the shelters, this will not make noise and will reflect the cats body heat back to the cat.

    • profile image

      David 

      7 years ago

      You can make a shelter from something like an old wooden cabinet that you can easily find in a dump or curbside. I converted one into a shelter for an outdoor cat and fitted it with an electrical socket so I could install an ordinary incandescent lightbulb. Depending on where you live the wattage will have to compete with the outdoor temperatures. For example here in Montreal in winter it gets really cold like today is -26 celsius and when you factor in the wind chill it's -38. Inside the shelter I have a 100 watt lightbulb to heat it. On average the light will keep the inside heated between +15/+23 celsius depending on the outdoor temperatures. It's important that you cover the bulb with a 3lb coffee can with holes poked in to allow heat to escape or use metal flashing around it like a lampshade (with punctured holes in flashing) to protect the cat from the heat source or from splattering their wet snow/rain coated coats onto the bulb glass which could easily shatter. Inside the shelter I divided it off into 3 sections for sleeping, entering and an area dedicated to just the light bulb to heat the shelter. I should mention that the shelter is located on my balcony that has an outdoor electrical socket that works the light that heats the shelter. I made a rubber coated dormer roof to allow the snow to slide off to cover the cabinet. It also can be lifted off to open the cabinet to change the lightbulb (usually lasts 4 weeks before needing to be changed again). I also added a small entrance hallway structure to the house to divert the wind from the cabinet's main entrance. The cat is healthy, happy and warm. I feed her daily high fat salmon/tuna/cat food mixed with a drop of milk and water. I purchased a heated outdoor water dish to keep water from freezing to ice. It's amazing what you can do to beat the elements and give a kitty a fighting chance. Many cities now provide low cost sterilization if you do an internet search. Many colleges and universities do such procedures as a teaching forum for veterinary students. Check it out.

    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      7 years ago from TX

      Madeleine,

      You're welcome!

    • profile image

      Madeleine 

      7 years ago

      I will talk to my vet. . . Thank you!

    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      7 years ago from TX

      Madeleine,

      You're certainly welcome.

      A few days shouldn't matter, especially if the cats are in good health to start with. (However, please be aware, I'm NOT a Vet, so I can't offer any professional advice here.) I'd recommend that if you've got any concerns with feline health problems, you seek proper medical/vet assistance like asking the Vet you normally go to.

    • profile image

      Madeleine 

      7 years ago

      Thank you for your reply . . . I was not aware of the difference between straw and hay. I have been rescuing independently for 15 years but did not know about the problem it could create for these kitties. Would a few days have harmed the cats?

    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      7 years ago from TX

      JC,

      Good for you for taking care of stray cats. Making sure they have fresh food & water daily is very important, especially in the winter time.

      FYI - You might want to look at the following link - it's got some great ideas for keeping cats warm in winter. All the designs are VERY affordable to do, even on a very limited budget!

      http://www.pacthumanesociety.org/core/WinterShelte...

    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      7 years ago from TX

      Madeleine,

      Are you sure it's straw and not hay? If it smells moldy more than likely it's not straw but hay. Please, if it smells moldy, replace it immediately.

      FYI - straw is dried, golden colored, primarily hollow stems of grain mainly used for bedding for the animals, weaving baskets etc. Straw being hollow tends to be fluffy, better absorbing hence makes ideal bedding & great insulation. Hay is used to feed animals & is a mix of grasses, as opposed to Straw (which is grain like wheat or oats).

      Hope this clarifies things.

    • profile image

      jc 

      7 years ago

      It's beginning to get very cold in Austin, Texas. When I got back from work at 9:30 PM, I fed the stray cats some hearty canned food, dry food and provided them with fresh water. I then simply placed a cardboard box on its side and put a blanket and some towels in it. The two stray cats took to it right away, comfortably snuggling/sleeping. I can see them from my livingroom window!

    • profile image

      Madeleine 

      7 years ago

      I am feeding two outside cats for which I made a shelter out of a Rubbermaid container I purchased and my son cut an opening for the cats to go inside. This year instead of using cat beds inside the shelter I used straw but I noticed it has a moldy smell . . . Will this hurt the cats?

    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      7 years ago from TX

      Krazykatlady,

      At least the kitties will be out of the direct cold in your garage. Since you have limited funds, you might want to at least look into getting some straw.

      Straw is an excellent insulator & you could also look at the links I provided in the comment above your first comment on this Hub. It's the link with "wintershelter" at the end of the link. This link gives you some great ideas to keep cats warm in winter with very little funds.

    • profile image

      krazykatlady 

      7 years ago

      Thanks so much for this site. I have a detached garage, and it going to be about 24* tonight. Will it be ok for the 4 homeless cats that I have been feeding to be in there? I can give them some old blankets and plenty of food and water, No heat source as I am afraid of fire but i will leave the light on. Also limited funds so I can't go buy heat pads and such. Will this be okay?

    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      7 years ago from TX

      LynneRicci,

      Thanks for stopping by & reading my Hub - and thanks for caring about the homeless black male cat.

      Be aware, cats are territorial, so some fighting is to be expected. This is also how cats sort out who's "top" cat. The following is a very good link for introducing cats to each other -

      http://maxshouse.com/introducing_cats.htm

      If you're the handy/crafty type of person, here's a very helpful link to build VERY affordable winter shelter for an outside cat. These will fit into most any budget, especially if you have limited funds.

      http://www.pacthumanesociety.org/core/WinterShelte...

      And the last suggestions I have for you would be to remember that STRAW is an excellent insulator, so you might want to invest in some of that (whatever shelter you provide for him). And also you might want to consider the SnuggleSafe heating pad(s). You heat them up in the microwave & they stay warm for hours.

      Hope all this helps!

    • profile image

      Marilyn1956 

      7 years ago

      One use only, unfortunately. But it does last up to 72 hours. You'd probably need a couple for even a small box in freezing weather.

    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      7 years ago from TX

      Marilyn1956,

      Ooh...nice comment, and it might be good thing for keeping cats warm in winter. The only question I've got is - can you re-heat the pad? If it's only a "one" use pad, then it might get a bit expensive. That's one reason I like the reheatable pads that can be used over & over again. Pay once, use many times.

    • profile image

      Marilyn1956 

      7 years ago

      Hi Jean,

      I received a package in the mail from a pharmacy that had a heat pad packed along with the prescription medication. The pad was for good for 72 hours and still quite warm. Hm, another source of heat for kitties? About a dollar a pack.

      Marilyn

    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      7 years ago from TX

      Nadia,

      You might want to try adding a thick layer of straw (you might need a bigger box to start off with). Straw is an excellent insulator & will help keep the kitties warmer.

      If they are staying longer - then you might want to invest in a couple of SnuggleSafe. They're kinda like the rice in the socks, but they stay warmer for much longer (many hours at a time). You'd heat one up & place it in the box at night, then in the morning - take the now cold SnuggleSafe out & put in a SnuggleSafe that you just heated up in the microwave. Then do this all again at night.

    • profile image

      Nadia  

      7 years ago

      Thanks for the tips , we recently discovered three cats , one large & two kittens. My parents wouldn't allow me to take them inside , so I put them in the garage . Except I feel bad because it's FREEZING out there . I took a box and put old towels in it , then I pored rice into old socks and heated it in the microwave . Then placed one In each corner of the box . We are planning on taking them to a shelter . If they have to stay any longer , is there another way I could keep them warm ... That won't make my parents mad?

    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      7 years ago from TX

      Samorita,

      You are most certainly welcome! So happy to help you (& help the cat keep warm this winter).

    • profile image

      samorita 

      7 years ago

      Thank you so much Jean, your words really help me. I will talk to them like you suggest, hopefully we'll be able to work together.

      Thanks again

    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      7 years ago from TX

      Samorita,

      You have a very kind heart, and that's a wonderful thing. That being said...you did mention that this older cat is owned by someone else. Because of this, I don't think you should take such strong action such as taking the cat into your house.

      I'd suggest you first see if you could talk with the owners. There might be a good reason why they have done what they've done -- for example, they might be older people & have a very limited budget. You never know about another person until you walk for a while in their shoes (i.e. try & find out more about your neighbors by talking with them).

      During your talk, you might want to first mention you've grown fond of the cat...then in a non-threatening way, you might want to suggest you want to help them keep the cat warm in the winter.

      Also, you might want to (depending upon their response to your talk) tell them about other ways they could keep the cat warm in the winter. Example: using straw as an excellent insulator.

      Hope all goes well & together you and your neighbors can keep the cat warm thru the winter (and well loved, too).

    • profile image

      Samorita 

      7 years ago

      Thanks for all the information given to all of us.

      There is a cat in my neighborhood, he seems to be very old because you can see the skin kind of hanging in his stomach. The ownwers keep him in a igloo type of house in their porch. There is a heated pad inside. Anyway every time I go see him he feels very cold, the igloo has some little holes and I am afraid the cold and wind are coming through there. When he sees me he inmediatetly comes to me for some petting. Right now it is very cold 29 degrees with strong winds of 32mph, it feels like 10 degrees outside. I am having such a hard time with this, I have been even thinking about just go there and get the cat and bringing into my house. I have a small dog and one of my boys is allergic to cats, but I couldn't sleep last night thinking the wind is going to blow away his house and he is going to freeze. He really likes me because it seems I am the only person that touches every once in a while. You can tell he was an indoor cat and they just decided to put him out there. I don't know what to do. Please give me some advice, thank you.

    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      7 years ago from TX

      Margaret,

      Thanks for letting us all know what was successful for you in keeping your outside cats warm. Great idea you came up with & SO glad to hear the cats stayed warm & liked what you did for them.

      Also, it's good to know how cold it got, besides hearing about exactly what you did -- that way other readers can see if your set of circumstances applies to them or not (& that way know if what you did would possibly work for them, too).

    • profile image

      Margaret 

      7 years ago

      I had 1 outside mother cat that had 7 kittens in the fall of '09. What I did for them was to get some plastic storage bins, put basement insulation all around the inside and on the cover then filled it halfway with straw. The cats loved it and there are two cats in each of the 4 bins I made. They got fresh food and drank water from our humidfier drain pipe in the yard which doesn't freeze. The weather last winter was ferocious. It stay below 20 deg and snowed every day but the cats survived in good health.

    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      8 years ago from TX

      Bridget,

      Good comment - the Havaheart traps are extremely humane ways of capturing animals, especially feral cats.

      It does take some time to "tame" a feral cat, but you are right, it takes less time if it's a feral kitten. Whatever the age, it's amazing what love, time and patience can do to build a bridge of trust between cat & human.

      Thanks for giving us all your great input.

    • profile image

      Bridget 

      8 years ago

      FOR MISTERMOTO:

      Try the Havahart live trap (regular size--like for raccoons). I had a litter of kittens living in an abandoned house near me a few years ago. I trapped the whole family and took them to a shelter except for one kitten who wouldn't walk into the cage I had built. I bought a squirrel sized live trap but he escaped every time. Finally I used the big one even though I thought he was too small to set it off and he was caught the same day.

      Once I had him, I let him out in my bathroom and have never seen a more terrified and angry kitty. I did some research on the internet searching "how to tame feral kittens." I started by stick petting him (using a long stick to pet him from a distance, then worked up to petting with gloves on. Within three days he was falling asleep in my husband's arms. If you catch him young, it's pretty easy to tame a baby.

      Personally, I think the money is better spent on a trap and getting one more cat off the cold streets.

      If you're worried about the cold, you could set the trap on some straw and cover it with a heavy blanket in case he gets trapped at a time when you can't get to him right away (like while you're asleep). Then it turns into a sort of shelter/trap.

    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      8 years ago from TX

      Melissa,

      You're most certainly welcome! Glad to help. Merry Christmas to you & yours. Hope the New Year brings you all your heart's desires & more.

    • profile image

      melissa 

      8 years ago

      thanks so much jean thats a good idea! ok..now what exactly is snugglesafe,and where can i buy it and how much is it? actually ill google it now. thanks u again! im open to anything right now. =)merry christmas to u and urs (if u celebrate it that is) =)

    • Jean Nash profile imageAUTHOR

      Jean Keith 

      8 years ago from TX

      Melissa,

      Kudos for caring so much about the cats health & warmth. I feel for your situation...a long time ago, I too was living in an apartment & was very limited in what I could do for abandoned animals. It's very frustrating, and I feel your pain.

      Unless you can get permission from your landlord, there's only a limited amount you can do legally. My recommendation is to stay WITHIN the law. Right now, unless you & your husband move into your own place, I'd recommend you use some SnuggleSafe products. You heat them up in the microwave & they stay warm for many hours. You could use a couple - put the heated ones under the shed, then in the morning you can exchange the used ones (and now cold) for ones you've heated up, that way they've got heat around the clock, both during the day & during the night. This should help quite a bit, especially since you can't put up a shelter (without the landlord's permission).

    working

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