DogsCatsFish & AquariumsReptiles & AmphibiansRodentsRabbitsExotic PetsBirdsFarm Animals as Pets

How To Keep Outdoor Cats Warm In Winter

Updated on February 5, 2016

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 need our help to get them through the cold of winter.

Here's what to keep in mind so you can keep your favorite feline warm all thru the cold winter months --

Give Food Daily

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. Yes, yes...it sounds counter-productive, but in reality, a well-fed cat hunts better. A cat is only successful 2-3 times per 10 times that it hunts. (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; 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: disease(s), 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. Speaking of "warm" - keep in mind dry cat food doesn't freeze. It's easier to feed dry cat food because it doesn't dry out, doesn't freeze, and most of the time, most cats will tolerate eating it.

Gimme Shelter

The next way to keep your outside cat warm in winter is to have a safe place for the cat to sleep. A cat needs shelter during the long, cold winter nights - just big enough for a cat (or two), 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've got my washer & dryer.) There's a small cat door for them to go in and out. The "closet" provides a good wind-break. Just cutting down the amount of wind (or completely eliminating the wind) makes a big difference in temperature and comfort of the cats.

It Doesn't Have To Be A Palace

My other shelter is an "igloo" type of shelter. O.K., it's really called a "dogloo," but I'm a cat person...what can I say? Anyway, the igloo is not very large, it's insulated (warmer in winter & cooler in summer) and has a small opening. I've 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 - the car port itself provides some wind break. My car port has walls on all three sides. Even on the coldest of winter days, I've found it can be at least 5 degrees warmer just being in the car port. I haven't measured the temperature in my outside cat "closet," but I'm sure the difference in temps are similar because it's enclosed on all 4 walls (with only one door for me & the cats to get in and out).

Also, remember to set the outside "igloo" or cat shelter up a bit, off of the ground. Or at least put the igloo on a wood pallet or some other material. Not only do cats prefer to be up off the ground, it you set the shelter off the ground, it won't leech the cold from the ground (or from the cement if you set things up in your car port or garage).

Don't Forget These

Another option (depending upon your budget) is 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 (like Lowe's) carry them.

Lastly, put out fresh water every day. However, you need to be aware of how cold it's going to get overnight because water does freeze! (I'm ashamed to say how many mornings I've found frozen water in the bowls...although, I'm getting better at remembering).

Try to place the water where it won't freeze, or invest in a heated bowl. If, for bugetary 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 an dwill come to drink the water at those times. Cats do like having routines.

All, or most of the above said and done, you should have a warm, comfy and happier cat during the winter.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Richard 9 years ago

      Many thanks for the tips. I have one outdoor cat that spends most of her time on my porch. I had 2 cats but one passed on last year. He was sickly and there was no way he'd let me get him to a vet. I think he had feline aids, or something similar. I'm thinking of buying some type of electric heated pad for Pal, my cat to lay on. Right now I use an oil radiator but it's kind of expensive. Anyway, thanks again for the info.

      rgcarlin1@aol.com

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 9 years ago from TX

      You're certainly welcome, Richard. You have my condolences on the passing of one of your cats last year. No matter whether they are inside or outside cats, whether they crave attention or are aloof, it still hurts when a beloved companion makes their transition.

      Buying a heated pad is a great idea! You might want to check & see how much noise it makes. What I mean by that is when the cat steps on it, does it make alot of noise? Some cats (not all) do NOT like something that makes noise & therefore will NOT sleep on it...no matter how warm it'll keep them.

      I made this mistake when I bought what I thought was a great item for my lovelies outside. It's a fake sheepskin pad with a mylar-type of material (you know, those space blankets). It reflects the heat of the cat back & keeps them warm when they're lying on it. Well, the very first time Oro (my outside Alpha male cat) tried it out...it made too much noise. It crinkled so loudly (for Oro) he got startled & ran off.

      My solution was to take it inside. Luckily for me, my inside cats love it.

      Thanks for stopping by & reading my posting.

    • solarshingles profile image

      solarshingles 9 years ago from london

      Jean, thank you for this very wise and compassionate hub! I could feel, that you are a very good person. Thank you, again.

    • profile image

      Jean Nash 9 years ago

      Solarshingles,

      Thank you for your kind words. I adore animals and I guess it's obvious from my writing.

      Since I've visited (& became a fan) of your hubs, I can say the same about you...that you are a very good person. Anyone who's as committed to walking more softly on our Mother Earth as you are, is a wonderful person in my estimation.

    • profile image

      Stevie 8 years ago

      I have 3- 4 cats that wondered to my yard, now that we are coming into winter I am worried they will freeze, there is a dog house that was left here and one of them goes in there, but I worry about the other 2 they are about a year or older and mom was around but I don't know where she went, they want in the house so bad but I have 3 of my own and can't let them in. There is also a play house that was left here, which I put a couple blankets in for them and leave the door open just enough for them to get in, I worry that they won't go in and stay in on those REALLY cold night, right now they sleep under our back deck. Any ideas?

      Thank you,

    • profile image

      CHEROKEEQUEEN 8 years ago

      I have learned on my tight buget that I can not buy the heaters but since my dog sleeps on my back porch many of the strays have gone in there to. But for the cat that get sick and have to be kept seperated from the population my mother had me build a large enclosure with a large house attched to it the enclosure alone is 8foot long by 5foot wide by 4foot high and while they are in there they get the medicine given to me by the vet food all the time and they have stuff to climb on and nice beds to sleep on in the house then when they are better they get put back with the stray population who get feed twice a day by me and during the winter warm water 3 times a day in their large water bowl.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 8 years ago from TX

      Stevie,

      I understand your dilemma of having inside cats & but also wanting to take care of the outside cats that found your back yard. It's a hard choice to make, no matter how you look at the situation. Please know that whatever you choose, the cats will be getting good care...you seem to have their best interests at heart.

      Knowing the cats can get into the dog house & play house is good. Also, leaving blankets in the playhouse is great -- it gives the cats something to curl up inside and will be a good wind break so they'll keep warm. Please be aware that no matter what you or I do, a cat will do what a cat will do. As I'm sure you know, cats are VERY independent. Luckily for us both, this usually means a cat will seek to be as comfortable as possible. However, this also means that if it's warmer underneath your back deck, then that's where they'll go.

      As long as you provide some good choices, the cats will go where they are most comfortable & warm. I'd leave the blankets in both the dog house & play house. That way, there's a good choice of warm spots to sleep away the cold nights. It also gives choices in case there are personalty clashes between the cats...that way no one cat is left out in the cold.

      Hope this helps.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 8 years ago from TX

      CherokeeQueen,

      Sounds like you have a great system for taking care of your furry friends! You might be on a tight budget, but you've got something better -- your creativity. Your Mom & you have created a wonderful way to take care of injured/sick cats with the enclosure you built.

      Thank heavens for people like yourself, who are so caring about animals...especially the strays & sick/injured ones. Many blessings to you and your family.

    • profile image

      vmontgom 8 years ago

      Hello Jean,

      I have just invited a beautiful peach and white stray cat that I have named Gracie up on my second level porch. She has accepted my invitation and since she seems to like it there I have gone to great lengths to keep her warm. We have pulled together a big box, cut a hole for a door, added some old towels and hope that she is warm when the temp. drops to 22 degrees. Brrrr. Since we are on a metal porch I keep a sample carpet under the box and I even cut up an old windshield sun cover to try and keep the heat in the box. She seems to be very happy there. But I noticed on wet days that I have to wash and dry the towels since they get very damp. It is good to check that out.

      My question is what can I place on the walls inside the box to keep it warmer with the exception of styrofoam since it MAY be toxic to her. I know some outdoor houses are lined with styrofoam but this is a very small space. Have any ideas? If not, I just may have to break down and buy one of those "cat"igloos that you mentioned.

      PS: Just a little note for those who have new visitors during the winter months. I also mix Gracie's hard food with some soft food in the mornings and warm it up as well as warming up her water. (making sure the food or the water is not TOO hot) She loves the warm water. We will be visiting the vet soon for shots and the most important thing...spaying or neurting. TNR...(trap, neuter and return)

    • profile image

      linda swartz 8 years ago

      has any one used hay to keep the cats warm.I use it under my porch all sides closed but a space for cats

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 8 years ago from TX

      Hey Vmontgom,

      Good for you in taking such good care of Gracie! I can understand your concern about those towels getting damp/wet and the possibility of the styrofoam being toxic to cats. Other than getting the "cat"igloos, here are some thoughts on the subject...(although, I'm certainly NOT an expert when it comes to insulation!).

      You might want to go to your local Lowe's or Home Depot store and ask the helpful & knowledgable folks there about insulating an outside shelter for Gracie. I know that the product called "Tyvek" is used for insulating human houses and it might just be usable for a shelter for Gracie (yes, it's the same company that makes those business envelopes we've all seen). The nice thing about Tyvek is that it is a moisture barrier that prevents moisture from entering our homes.

      I do know that a box, whether it's cardboard or some other fiber, is not the best for outside use. It's a breathable but porous material which is why it allows and absorbs the wet weather into the box and gets those towels so damp. Bottom line - you need material that not only keeps the wind out, but also has some moisture barrier that won't allow any moisture into Gracie's shelter so she can keep warm AND dry.

      I hope these ideas help you and Gracie thru this winter & many more winters to come. Oh, and before I forget - GREAT idea about providing daily WARM water during the Fall & Winter...and, many Kudos for making sure Gracie gets her shots & spaying her!

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 8 years ago from TX

      Linda,

      Yes, my neighbors have tried using hay to keep their outside cat warm. Since I only saw it being used for only a couple of days, I can't really say one way or the other whether or not it was good or not in keeping their cat warm. Since hay traps air and you're using it in an enclosed space, I'd think it would provide some good insulation...it all depends on how tightly packed the hay is in the first place.

      Several Earth-friendly builders use hay for insulation...i.e., "Hay Bale housing"...so why not use it for keeping cats warm in winter? Sounds good to me. The only concern I'd have is making sure that the hay under your porch doesn't get soiled - like having it used as a litter box. You'd have to make sure it was clean, otherwise, it'd lose any insulating properties...besides, it'd start to smell bad.

    • profile image

      tvnewsbadge 8 years ago

      I made several cat houses by simply getting boxes of the right size, duck taping those Styrofoam panels to the bottom, top sides, front and back (door cut out of course) wrapping the whole thing in several layers of foil bubble wrap insulation, and then sealing the whole mess in a heavy duty black plastic trash bag, duck taping a plastic panel cut from an old shower curtain liner to the door.

      I got a couple of those cheap fleece "cat beds" for like 5 bucks a piece " at the local Walgreens and change them out when they get wet (wet bedding is death to your cat) . The bedding needs to be checked and replaced when wet.

      Don't know how comfortable the cats are, but they've been using them for 2 years now.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 8 years ago from TX

      tvnewsbadge,

      Good for you -- those cat houses sound like they are well insulated, and of course, the greatest test of all was passed when you stated they got the cat "seal" of approval (with the cats using them for the past 2 years). I've no doubt your cats appreciate all you've done for them & are nice and comfy in their winterized shelters.

    • profile image

      Maisie 8 years ago

      Hi, Jean. Great site! Very helpful. We have an older tuxedo cat (whom we've named Felix) who found his way to our door (apparently, according to our neighbor, he's been wandering around here for years). He was clearly once owned by someone since he's been neutered, and he delights in not only our company but our dog's, as well. I tried to introduce him into our household (after taking him to the vet and having him checked out and vaccinated--thankfully he's FIV and FeLV negative), but our indoor cat wanted NO part of this idea. Nor, it seems does Felix. I've taken to letting him indoors when our cat is down in the basement--the happy hunting ground, as we call it--so he can have some affection time, but after a brief while he wants back outside. My question is we've made an enclosure for Felix out of a large TV box, insulated it with foam panels, plus it's wrapped with an old rug, several blankets, and waterproofed and windproofed with a large tarp. Inside (apart from those foam panels) he has a large foam bed covered with a couple of fleece blankets plus I've lined the sides of the box with a couple of old fleece jackets. But I still worry that this won't be sufficient to ward off the cold and wind of our upstate New York winter. Unfortunately we have no garage, no car port, no shed, or any other enclosed or even semi-enclosed area to put the box in, so it's just out on our front porch, up against the house but otherwise exposed to the elements--other than a roof to keep off the majority of the rain and snow. Is there anything else I can do to provide additional warmth? Thanks so much for your help!!

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 8 years ago from TX

      Maisie,

      Thanks for your kind words about my Hub. It sounds like Felix has found himself wonderful humans to take care of him.

      Unfortunately, cats (whether originally feral, or feral by circumstances) tend to get uneasy with being indoors for any great length of time... or at least, that's been my experience over the years. For example -- Oro, my 6 yr.old, all black male cat (with gold eyes) will occasionally come inside, but will not stay more than a short while before wanting to go outside again...even when it's down in the low 20's at night.

      As for what else you might do on those extemely cold Upstate NY winter nights -- here's some thoughts -- for additional warmth, you might look into buying a sleeping bag that's rated for a very cold temp. Most sleeping bags these days have ratings (for example: down to 30 degrees, down to 0 degrees, down to -10 degrees, etc...). I can't remember just how cold it gets where you live, but the sleeping bags I've seen that are good down to -10 or -20 degrees are still mostly affordable (depending upon your budget dollars). If you place the sleeping bag in Felix's enclosure where he can get into the sleeping bag & curl up (without suffocating himself), the sleeping bag should help to keep him warm.

      The only other thing I can think of is perhaps you know (or can check with your neighbors, friends, etc.) and find a local handyman to make Felix a shed or semi-enclosed area to put Felix's enclosure into.

    • profile image

      Maisie 8 years ago

      Hi, again, Jean--and, wow, thanks for such a fast reply! I have a very limited budget, unfortunately, but I'll check around for a used sleeping bag. Also, I saw another recommendation to use a solar pool cover (foil side down to reflect the heat back), though I don't know how effective that would be if wrapped on the outside of a box, especially in this circumstance when Felix's body heat would have to pass through half-inch thick cardboard covered with inch-and-a-half foam-core insulated board before it reached that solar cover. (Or is my logic illogical??) At any rate, we had initally created his shelter out of the large cardboard box thinking that it would just be temporary and he'd soon be living indoors. Since that clearly is NOT going to be the case, my next question for you is what's the best material to construct a more permanent abode for Felix? Would half-inch plywood faced with the foam-core board provide decent insulating properties? Or is there something better we could use (keeping in mind the budgetary restraints)? Thanks again!!

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 8 years ago from TX

      Maisie,

      Sorry to hear about your limited budget...the good news is you still have choices to help keep Felix warm. Good idea of yours - to check on a good, used sleeping bag. Don't think the solar pool cover will work, but I've never tried it out, so I don't know for sure if it will or will not work in reality.

      Another idea for keeping Felix warm - (besides the good, used sleeping bag) is you might consider the fake sheepskin pads that have a mylar insert that reflects body heat back to the cat. The big downside to this product (as I found out the hard way)...is that some feral cats don't like the noise it makes. When the cat steps on the pad, it makes a crinkly sound. Some cats don't mind this noise, and some cats DO mind the noise. You won't know until it happens whether or not Felix will refuse to use it. My Oro bolted when he stepped on it and refused to go near it again...luckily for me, my inside kitties love using it so it wasn't a total waste of my money.

      As far as the best material for a more permanent abode for Felix - yes, I'd say the 1/2 inch plywood faced with foam-core board would be good...certainly much better than cardboard. You might also look into some Tyvek insulating board (instead of foam-core)...see my comment above to Vmontgom. The folks at Lowe's & Home Depot could tell you better than I could which insulating material is the best...either Tyvek, foam-core or something else I don't know about...also they could certainly tell you how to go about getting a very good insulated shelter for Felix built on a very limited budget.

      Good luck -- let me know how it goes. And, you are certainly welcome, hope all my comments help keep Felix warmer in the winter.

    • profile image

      Desiree 8 years ago

      Hi, we have a cat that has adopted us and we love her but it's not possible to have her inside and I am so worried about her outside in the cold. She comes to our back door (deck) not covered. I tried to move her to the front porch (covered) more cozy, but she just got scared and ran off. I'm not sure how to get her to "move" to the front please help...

      Thanks

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 8 years ago from TX

      Desiree,

      I don't know the details on how you tried to "move" her and how she got scared & ran off...but each cat does have a different tolerance level for change -- with very few cats liking change at all. Please check out my Hub (if you haven't already done so) & the great comments from the folks who've read my hub (& my comments back to them)...you might want to consider the following to help you "move" your cat from the back door to the front porch --

      Most cats (both inside & outside) tend to respond well to food. You might want to put food and water out for her in BOTH the back door area AND the front porch. If possible, see when she comes to the more desired location (front porch). Note the time of day. Then slowly start putting out less food in the back door area and more food on the front porch area. Eventually, over quite a number of days, this will encourage her (via food motivation) to "move herself" from one area to the other area. Then when she's eating at the front porch for a couple of days, stop feeding her at the back door & only feed her at the front porch.

      Hope this helps you.

    • profile image

      Donna 8 years ago

      I have a feral cat that I have set up a shelter with a wooden box over an insulated cat box. It took a while for it to use it. Sometime ago a friend went to get the cat and of course it ran off. Although it comes every day for food, I don't think it is using the shelter. Is there anywhere to get it to use the shelter again? This is a young cat

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 8 years ago from TX

      Donna,

      All I can tell you is the good "news" is that you've got a young cat...which means your cat is more open to learning things and will most likely use the shelter again. It just might take it some time. In working with feral cats, one of the best tools to have is lots of patience. It takes time for a feral cat to see (& believe) that what's happening IS for the best.

      Most cats will choose to be comfortable, warm & dry - so if the shelter is the best choice, it'll use the shelter. (FYI - Many times, I've thought my outside cats weren't using the available shelter, but found out after looking more closely, that they WERE using it...I just hadn't been looking at the right time to see them entering/leaving the shelter.)

      Just be aware that you have to be patient and loving. Over time, your cat will see what's best for it & choose what's best. Just keep on putting out food, fresh water & good shelter...the cat WILL do the rest. Also, remember to move slowly when around your feral cat - fast movements tend to scare them.

    • profile image

      Cindy Craw 8 years ago

      Dear Jean,

      Apparently I have been doing everything wrong to keep my strays warm in winter. They have cardboard boxes that sit on the concrete, but have lots of pillows and towels in them to snuggle into. The tops of the boxes are open. They are against the house in back under a covered patio. However, the patio acts as a wind tunnel and the cats really have to hunker down into the box to get warm. I heard something today about using Christmas lights in the boxes to keep the cats warm. Have you heard of this? Do I cover the lights with a sheet or pillowcase? Can they catch fire? I am going to get some carpeting to put under the cardboard boxes and put in the old sleeping bag that I have, but I cannot afford to buy wood or foam core. Normally, Tucson does not get cold too often, but the weather report predicts snow this evening. I need something that I can do fast, that will keep the cats warm, and that will be safe for them. I have about 4 strays that come to be fed and watered twice a day. Oh, lastly, should I be taping the boxes shut completely and cutting a hole in the side for them to get in and out of the box, or should I leave the top open?

      Thank you!

      Cindy

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 8 years ago from TX

      Cindy,

      I'd be very wary of using Christmas lights in your boxes to keep your cats warm. Some points that worry me are: 1.) no way to regulate the heat from the lights; 2.) VERY high probability for catching fire; 3.) possibility for burning the cats from the unregulated heat from the lights...etc., etc., etc.

      I'd tape the boxes shut & cut a hole in the side for them to get in & out of the box - this will help keep them warm & reduce the "wind tunnel" effect. Placing a sleeping bag will DEFINITELY help LOTS to keep them warm; and putting some carpeting under the cardboard boxes will also reduce the cold from the concrete seeping into the boxes & up into the sleeping cats.

      You've got the right ideas (other than the Christmas lights) for keeping your cats warm in a hurry. Over time you can then make some more improvements as your budget allows. Truly, your heart is in the right place & you've taken steps to take care of the strays that came to you...you really haven't done "everything" wrong at all! You care (which is great), you're feeding & giving fresh water (which is very important), you are interested in improving the shelter you're providing (which is critical in winter)...I'd say you're definitely doing lots of things right.

    • profile image

      Katyavp 8 years ago

      I just came across this site while doing research about how to keep cats warm in the winter. I live in upstate NY in an extremely windy area and have a neighbor who either abandoned her cats or simply leaves them out at night... she is of the mind that pets can take care of themselves. I am beside myself trying to figure out what to do. For a week now, her two cats have come to my home in the middle of the night (I know because my indoor cat howls when they come to the door). I have begin feeding them, and one of the cats even comes inside (when my own cat is kept upstairs). The cat who comes inside is affectionate but also turns on you and bites and scratches, particularly when she hears my cat at the door. He comes in willingly, but after about 20 minutes wants out again. The other cat will come up to the house, but won't come inside.

      With the temps dropping here, I've been doing a lot of research on how to create a suitable shelter for these poor cats. I have read the postings on this page with great interest but do have a few questions, as the info here seems to conflict with info I have read elsewhere.

      First, I have read that STRAW is the best bedding for cats...several sources indicate this is true. Straw and hay are not the same thing (or so these sites suggest)... I am not sure what the difference is. Does anyone know?

      Second, many sites indicate that cloth bedding, blankets, towels, etc are the WORST for cats since they draw away body heat and can be deadly to cats if they get wet (not only don't provide warmth but can also get moldy and mildewy). Is this true?? I can see why straw would be a good option, but think a towel might be more attractive to a cat.... but I would hate to use that if it isn't good for the cat.

      I have also found conflicting info about whether raised housing is better or worse. Certainly, keeping the housing away from water and flooding is important, but if you put it on top of a pallet , doesn't that allow cold air to circulate underneath and make it colder? I am not sure if the ground or air is colder, but I am assuming the air is.

      Lastly, I would ideally like to buy or build housing that will also be good for summer shelter since the summers here are as hot and humid as the winters are as cold and windy. Any suggestions? Also, since these cats are not truly feral and willingly come up to my house, can I put the shelter behind my house, or should it really be in the woods?

      I live on a military installation, and we have no animal control and there really is no way to report this family for neglect (also not everyone sees it as neglect... they think they're outdoor cats). There are rules about providing adequate outdoor shelter for pets, but getting something like that enforced here is like pulling teeth.

      I would very much like to take these cats to the no kill shelter a couple of towns over, but my husband tells me it is wrong and I really have no way to do this because one cat won't come close, and the other can be aggressive.

      My heart is breaking and I want to help these little guys, so any advice would be much appreciated. many thanks!

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 8 years ago from TX

      Katyavp,

      Good for you for stepping up & taking care of your neighbor's cats. She doesn't have all the information/education she needs to realize leaving domestic cats outside on those Upstate NY winter nights can be lethal.

      As for the info on this site - most of my info comes not only from my personal experience, but from many vets I've known personally, as well as many years of research. I'm NOT saying I'm an expert...but just offering what I know works for me.

      Straw - yes, straw does work well to insulate. See my above comments about it's insulating properties (i.e., straw bale housing). Can't really say what the difference is between straw & hay. For me, the major point is this - while straw bedding might be good for making a bed...you still need to have a proper shelter set up to stop the wind and weather elements from harming your cats. This involves walls, insulating material, etc., etc., etc.

      Cloth bedding, blankets, and so on - are only going to draw away body heat if the are WET...NOT when they are dry. The challenge is to keep them DRY. The cloth or blanket in and of themselves are not the worst for cats.

      The point I'm trying to make here is this - my information doesn't really conflict with what you've read (although it's a bit hard to explain things when I don't know exactly what you've read). The bottom line is this - straw bedding is good, but you need more than just a bed for the cat to sleep in. You also need a good shelter (with walls, ceiling, floor) that surrounds some very good bedding, etc. (as I've stated in my original hub & all comments).

      Personally, I'd put the shelter for the cats behind your house & not in the woods for a couple of reasons. Mainly because 1.) it'd be easier to give them food & water on a regular basis and 2.) they are not really feral cats, but are somewhat used to human contact.

    • profile image

      Donna 8 years ago

      Jean,

      Thanks for you response ragarding getting my young feral cat to use shelter. The weather has turn very cold and snowy and I still don't see it using the shelter. I was just wandering....there had beem a possum in the yard recently going for the cat food at night. I have since removed the food after dark. Would this been keeping the cat from using the shelter, since the food was set up next to the shelter. I really don't want to move the shelter since it is under trees for protection, but not next to the house because I have a dog and didn't want it to be disturbed every time the dog was in the yard. I just don't know if the possum is keeping it from using the shleter. The cat recently is still hidung under the deck...where I can't put the shelter becase there isn't any room?

      Am I over thinking this ...and just take your advice that the cat will eventually use the shelter provided?

      Thanks again for your advice.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 8 years ago from TX

      Donna,

      Since I live way out in the country & have over 10 acres, I obviously see LOTS of various critters on my land. To say the least, Yes, possums (& racoons for that matter) DO eat cat food. Basically, the possum & racoon will eat whatever's available & cat food is no exception...they too need to eat enough food to help them keep warm in the winter.

      To answer your question -- Yes, the possum could definitely be keeping your young feral cat from using the shelter. While possum's don't have good eyesight, they do know how to defend & protect themselves & your young feral cat would certainly not want to get into a tussel with either a possum or a racoon if it could avoid a fight (kinda like the principle of "run away so you can fight another day"). Most cats, if given a choice, will pick their fights & not fight unless they have to (a good example would be a Momma cat defending her kittens).

      Anyway, I agree with you about the location of where you've placed the shelter. The trees do offer more protection from the weather & being farther from the dog is also very important. Other than removing the food after dark (so the possum can't eat it), you might want to consider placing the food a little distancee from the shelter...then the possum might not associate the food & shelter together. (Since I'm NOT really very familiar with possums, I can't say for certain if this will or won't work, but it is worth a try.)

      I certainly hope your young feral cat starts using the shelter sooner rather than later. Oh, and you are most certainly welcome for your kind words.

    • profile image

      Paul 8 years ago

      Hi Jean,

      I'm glad to find something like this because I have a few questions.

      My wife and I kind of adopted a cat 2 years ago. Well actually the cat adopted us on cold night in December. We don't know where she came from or why she chose us. We named her Noel, appropriate for the time of year we started caring for her. My children, 5 and 3 love her and Noel loves all of us as well. At first Noel was very skittish and would run if you got close. She now lets us all pet her, pick her up and cuddle her. She purrs like CRAZY!

      I made her a house out of a very large RubberMaid gray container. I cut a hole in the side of it for an entrance and attached a piece of plastic over the door to knock the wind down and keep the rain/snow out. Inside - I cut 3 inch think foam panels typically used for sound in recording studios. I put this foam on the floor, four walls, and attached a piece to the top off the container as well. I put one of our spare bedroom pillows in there and a fleece blanket draped over the walls and pillow. To tell you the truth, I'd sleep out there, that's how cozy it looks. My question to you is... Do you think this is warm enough for her if the temp gets down to like 10 degrees or cooler?.

      Secondly, Occasionally we'll let her in the house for an hour or so. She is very good I might add. She hops up on our kitchen chair and curls up or follows us around purring like crazy. Do you think this is ok to have her come in every now and then? We never brought her to the vet to get checked out. My wife did buy stuff for ear mites during this past summer. Would you advise us to take her to the vet to get a checkup?

      My daughter and son were laying on the floor inside last night when we let the cat in for a while. Noel walked over to the two of them, sniffed them and laid down right next to them and gently nuzzled her nose into them (purring like crazy). Noel was rolling around like she was in heaven with the to kids petting her. It sounds like this cat really loves us that much to allow us to handle her and be comfortable enough to come in and act like she is part of the family forever.

      Any advise you may have would be great!

      Thanks in advance, Paul

    • profile image

      Mikayla  8 years ago

      Hi! I have been caring for a feral cat for about 3 years now. One of the things I did for those of you on a limited budget was buy a big plastic storage container with a lid. I cut an opening on the front of it for him to go in and out. I lined the container with egg crate material, sides and the bottom and put a heating pad in the bottom of it with a light layer over the top. I keep the heating pad on low. Or you can buy a pet mate heating pad that always stays on the right temperature and it also stays on 24 hours a day. This way your cat has a roof and insulation. The heating pads work great too. Just don't turn them on to high.

      But I have also bought a cat igloo and put it over a large basket with a heating pad inside. My wild kitty loves the basket with the blankets and heating pad, but is scared to death of the igloo over the top of it. Like one other person said a cat is going to do what a cat is going to do. I always have fresh food and water each morning.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 8 years ago from TX

      Mikayla,

      Thanks for the great comment. Really love your idea about the pet mate heating pad - wonderful item since it stays at the right temperature & can stay on 24 hrs. a day! I appreciate your input.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 8 years ago from TX

      Paul,

      First of all, let me apologize for not replying back to you until now...things got a bit hectic around the holidays. My most sincere apologies to you.

      It sounds like Noel found herself a great human family to adopt in you, your wife & children. The shelter you constructed does sound very comfy and very well insulated -- kudos to you! It's warm enough for cool to cold weather, but I'm not sure about anything below 10 degrees...especially without a pet heating pad (see other comments on this hub).

      Since Noel is so well behaved inside your home & gets along with your whole human family members, I don't see why you shouldn't let her come in every now & then (or maybe even become a completely inside kitty?). I agree with you - you should take her to the vet & get her a complete physical exam with the proper set of shots. It's easier for a cat to handle the weather variations when they are healthy and well taken care of on a regular basis.

      It seems from your comments that your whole family and Noel get along very well - you all seem to care & love each other quite a bit, so why not make it official and let Noel come inside for good? (of course after a discussion with your wife & kids first).

    • profile image

      Eileen 8 years ago

      I recently purchased a product called snugglesafe for an outside feral kitty and love it. It is a disc you put in the microwave and heat for 5 minutes and then put it in the cover it comes with or wrap in a blanket and put it in the cats house. I purchased 2 so I could switch them morning and night without disturbing her too much. I heat one and when I feed her I make the switch and bring one in to do the same thing in the morning. I like it because I do not have to worry about starting a fire with an electrical heater. Snugglesafe.com if anybody is interested in further information regarding the product. I have seen them offered at petco and amazon.com also.

    • profile image

      Eileen 8 years ago

      Another great product is the mysterious purr pad, it reflects the cats body heat back but without the crinkly noise of some of the other products.

    • profile image

      Stephanie 8 years ago

      Hello,

      I have a mom feral (her kitties are in our house) but she will not come in. I purchased a feral villa for her. ($75)www.feralvilla.com it is a 2 floor insulated cat house, I have the villa on our covered screened porch (and made hubby cover screen with plastic) she has a pet bed with an indoor heated pad that heats to the cats normal temp. she seems to be using it frequently - it is still very cold out there but hopefully she will be fine during this really cold spell. It is 8 degrees tonight! But hoping since she is in a shelter that is in a shelter with the heated pad - she will be ok? I am feeding her twice a day wet (warmed) and dry food. - I have not been warming the water - but saw several posts of people doing this - great idea!

      Thanks for all the great ideas - I really recommend the feral villa to anyone looking for a shelter - just needs simple assembly - already preinsulated. (also has a shingled slanted roof.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 8 years ago from TX

      Eileen,

      Thanks for the two wonderful comments & suggestions! Really like the idea of the "Snugglesafe" product (I've heard about it before, but didn't know where to buy it). Great idea to buy two of them, so you one can be keeping the cats(s) warm and then when it cools down, you can then switch it out with a warmed-up one later on in the day or evening.

      Also, really like the other product - the Mysterious Purr Pad. Both products sound like they'd be very helpful in keeping cats (and other small animal companions) warm on those cold winter nights outside.

      Got a question for you...mostly for clarification purposes -- Do you buy the Mysterious Purr Pad from the same places you can buy the Snugglesafe product? If not, could you please post a comment on this so others can know where to buy the Mysterious Purr Pad? THANKS!

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 8 years ago from TX

      Stephanie,

      Thank you for telling all of us about the Feral Villa -- sounds like a very good product that stray/feral cats will definitely use (especially since your feral Momma cat does use it without complaint). Haven't seen one myself, but I'm definitely going to have to see if I can locate one in my area.

      If you wouldn't mind, would you please post another comment & tell us all where you purchased your Feral Villa so others will know where to buy one (or at least know where to start their search for one)?

      As far as your Momma feral cat being O.K. - from what you've already said, it sounds like all her needs are being met. You're providing food, clean & fresh water & have a good main shelter (covered screened porch) with a smaller insulated shelter (feral villa) with a heated pad. Just keep in mind that some feral cats won't ever want to stay inside. There are many reasons for this...some of them being - being outside, on their own for a long time period and/or having bad human experiences they don't trust enough or are uncomfortable being inside for long periods of time.

      I've no doubt you're doing everything within your power to provide the best you possibly can for Momma feral cat.

    • profile image

      Eileen 8 years ago

      Mysterious purr pad can be found at petco or drs. foster and smith or amazon.com . I have also seen them in the local grocery store (weis market is my local grocery store). The ones in the grocery stores are not specifically called mysterious purr pad but it's the same principal, polyester fibers that absorb and hold the body heat of the cat. I have 2 purr pads in the cat box with the snugglesafe tucked in between the two of them. They are sold 2 in a package and cost between twelve and fifteen dollars.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 8 years ago from TX

      Eileen,

      Thank you for posting your comment so quickly & for letting me (and everyone else) know some places we can buy the Mysterious Purr Pad. I'm going shopping later on today, so by tonight my outside kitties will have even more ways to keep warm.

      This is great timing for me...even though I live in Texas (North Central TX), we do get cold winter nights -- there's a cold snap with temps at night going well below freezing predicted for later this week.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 8 years ago from TX

      Stephanie,

      Oops....my bad! Apologies to you Stephanie. You DID mention in your comment above that we can purchase the Feral Villa from feralvilla.com -- what I MEANT to say was...if you know any physical stores (like PetCo or Petsmart, etc.) where we can buy the Feral Villa, please post a comment. Again, my mistake - sorry about that.

    • profile image

      Eileen 8 years ago

      Jean,

      Any luck finding any of the products?

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 8 years ago from TX

      Eileen,

      Found & purchased the Mysterious Purr Pad, not sure if all the outside cats use them, but at least one of the cats has (this is after only 2 nights of use). So far, so good.

      Will have to go online to snugglesafe.com to get the product because the PetCo in my city doesn't carry it.

    • profile image

      Eileen 8 years ago

      I am happy to hear you are having success.

    • profile image

      Annie T. Baxter 8 years ago

      What a great article Jean! With your love for cats, when can we look forward to more articles from you???!!! Keeping our cats warm and cared for is one of the special gifts we can give to those who give so much to us.

      Until next time...Annie

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 8 years ago from TX

      Annie,

      Wow - what can I say, but Thanks for your kind words.

      To answer your question, Yes, I will write more hubpages (articles). I just can't say exactly when. Unfortunately, I recently got a new job & work a very odd schedule. It doesn't allow me very much time for pleasurable pursuits like writing new hubs. Will give it my best.

    • profile image

      Stephanie 8 years ago

      Sorry just checking back now. I purchased my Feralvilla online from their website. It was shipped to me within a week. It comes pre-insulated and my husband put it together within 20 minutes. It is a wonderful product. The insulation has a silver reflective coating that reflects their heat. It is suggested that if you are putting the shelter outside that you raise it up a bit and put straw or hay in the top floor for added insulation. Because it has a sloped shingled roof, it stays plenty dry inside! The only word of caution is if it is kept outside, once the weather gets nice, I rinse with a hose every once in a while so that ants dont get in the insulation. I found a spot where they started to burrow in the insullation.

      Because my villa is on my covered patio, I have it near an outlet and put a cat bed with an indoor heated pad on it (the top lifts off like a box, so I could put the heated pad in and have cord come out the back)

      Our feral, which is now our outside cat :) loves it! www.feralvilla.com

    • profile image

      stephanie 8 years ago

      I do not think they sell them in stores, as I think it is just a guy that makes them at home and ships them. He does allow pick up, Pickup locations currently include Greenfield area (7 miles east of Indianapolis off I-70), and Fishers area. He also sells covered feeding stations.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 8 years ago from TX

      Stephanie,

      Thanks so much for replying with the info for Feral Villa! This is a great product that provides a much needed service for all those outside kitties trying to keep warm (& provides us human companions with much needed reassurance that our beloved cats ARE warm enough thru those cold winter nights).

    • profile image

      cking 8 years ago

      I cut an old blanket in half folded it over a couple of times and sewed the sides up like a pillow case. I place a heating pad (not the kind that plugs in) that's been warmed in the microwave inside the blanket and place it inside my cat's carrying case that I placed outside. It stays warms to the touch for 4-5 hours.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 8 years ago from TX

      cking,

      Thanks for your comment. Not sure if the heating pad you refer to is a "snugglesafe" product. (see Eileen's comment above). Snugglesafe is a wonderful product you heat up in the microwave & use like a heating pad to keep outdoor kitties warm. What you talk about sounds alot like a snugglesafe. Anyway -- what you are doing should keep your cat warm - which is the whole point & the most important thing. Good for you!

    • profile image

      caoland 7 years ago

      Thank you for all these helpful hints. I just found this site while looking for ways to keep my ferals warmer than last winter. In addition to what I've been doing, I think I'm going to cover my porch screens with heavy plastic for winter and buy the heated water bowl that was previously mentioned. Again, thanks to all for the great ideas.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 years ago from TX

      Caoland,

      You are certainly welcome, glad you found my hub & all the comments helpful. Here's to keeping our furry companions & friends warm in the winter.

    • profile image

      Sheryl Thomas 7 years ago

      Thanks for the tips. A feral cat adopted me this summer up at my lake house and uses my gazebo to sleep in. I purchased an automatic feeder for it since I am only there for a week at a time each month - and it always seems to find me within 30 minutes of my arrival when I come back. I enlisted the help of some neighbors to help the cat this winter. I have purchased an insulated home for it, 2 mats that help the cat stay warm with its own body warmth and some mylar thermal blankets that I will put down inside. I am about to get it a feeding station next. I promised to keep the neighbors supplied with pet food and they will keep the cat house on their premises. Is there anything else I need to do to help this little guy survive the three really rough winter months. I have grown quite fond of him.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 years ago from TX

      Hey Sheryl,

      Good for you! -- making sure your plans keep your male feral buddy warm this winter. It sounds like you've really planned it well; neighbors being supplied with cat food, having an insulated "house," etc.

      Depending upon how the mylar thermal blankets are made, he may or may not like them. If they are the older style, they may be too stiff & will make noise that most ferals do NOT like at all. If it's the newer type of blanket, then you shouldn't have anything to worry about. If you aren't sure...see how he reacts to them. If he really doesn't like the mylar thermal blankets, then check out the above comments to this hub.

      You'll see in the comments about the Mysterious Purr Pad and Snugglesafe. I've tried out the Mysterious Purr Pad on my ferals & highly recommend it. While I haven't gotten the Snugglesafe product, from all that I hear & can find on it - it's a great product, as well.

      Since your feral is truly an outside only kinda guy, then that's all I can think of for you to do. Hope this helps you keep your cat as warm as possible over these coming winter months (and of course, each winter thereafter for a LONG time).

    • profile image

      caoland 7 years ago

      Sheryl - You may want to trap him, get him fixed, and then release him once he is ready/healed (healing time is shorter for males). That way you can start managing the population. You want to be able to do this when you are there for a week or 2 and you need to use cat-friendly traps. For more info, here's a good link http://www.alleycat.org/NetCommunity/Page.aspx?pid...

      Good Luck!

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 years ago from TX

      Caoland -

      Good point about the trap/neuter/release. Making sure any feline population is managed properly is important. I'm a big supporter of Alley Cats, so kudos to you for providing that great link!

    • profile image

      girly 7 years ago

      cool i have an outdoor cat

    • profile image

      Robin Solheim 7 years ago

      I started feeding an abandoned cat, this summer, that was left behind after the 2008 IA flood. I know I saw him around last winter and he survived okay. He lives in the next door empty house so he does have shelter. Although I still haven't gotten more than 15 feet away, I feel he was once someone's pet and not totally wild. I can't bring him into my home, but am still trying to befriend him. I've gotten attached, as I am an animal lover and now I'm concerned about him being out in the cold over the winter. I can get into this empty house and was wondering what would be the best thing to maybe take over there to help him keep warm on the cold IA winter nights.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 years ago from TX

      Hey Robin,

      Good for you for befriending the abandoned cat. Howevever he might not have been abandoned, depending upon his former families' circumstances (since you mentioned the 2008 IA flood). Sometimes, families don't always have the best of choices when disaster strikes. I can't really comment further 'cause obviously, I wasn't there at the time. Right now, the important thing is kudos to you for taking over his welfare.

      The best suggestions I have would be to go over my whole hub, including the comments. This would give you the best ideas to keep him warm. The bottom line suggestion would be to try 1.) a good winter rated sleeping bag - this would provide a warm, snuggly place for him to burrow into & keep him toasty; 2.) the Mysterious Purr Pad and/or Snugglesafe. All of these would help keep him warm since the empty house obviously doesn't have any heat.

      Also, if possible, put the sleeping bag (and/or the Mysterious Purr Pad and/or Snugglesafe)up on something like a box. Most cats like to be up off the floor/ground. This also helps keep him warm. Remember, heat rises, cold descends, so the floor is going to be the coldest part of a house (or at least, one of the coldest parts of a house).

      Hope this helps.

    • profile image

      flashrob 7 years ago

      the link in my previous post for the "petco comparison" won't launch completely...you'll just see the largest insulated dog kennel... but if you click around you can see a slightly smaller dog kennel, etc.

      yeah, these are supposed to be insulated dog houses, but should work well for cats and they're bigger, too.

      you could do one of these with the 20degree sleeping bag I mentioned in my previous post...that might be what I END UP DOING...

      my family ain't cat fans... so I got to keep this a bit away from the house and out by the shed, so elec extension cords might be a problem for me, etc.

      but I figure an "insulated dog house" plus a 20degree sleeping bag MIGHT BE THE BEST I CAN DO... and real good for the cats, etc. (plastic tub will work, but then that's not insulated, though good for cold rain, etc...might do that til it gets below freezing, etc.)

      anyway, good luck and God Bless...

      regards

      flashrob

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 years ago from TX

      flashrob,

      Appreciate your comments - however, many of the readers can't afford to drop $300 or so dollars, it just doesn't fit into their budget. For those who's budget can stretch that far, I'd be MORE than interested in hearing about whether or not your project works & how the cat(s) used or didn't use your outdoor cat house, so please feel free to update us by posting another comment here.

      For the inside of your cat house, I'd recommend the 20 degree sleeping bag because it'll definitely keep the cat(s) warmer in the winter than just a pillow or blanket.

      You don't have to use a "heating pad" (& therefore keep your costs down). Instead use either a Mysterious Purr Pad, and/or a Snugglesafe. Both will do the job of keeping the cat(s) warm without the expense, or danger of having a heating pad being used outdoors. Remember, there are some dangers involved with using an "indoor only" product (i.e. a heating pad) outside. Also it eliminates the dangers of running an extension cord(s) outside, or for a long distance. No tripping over the cords, nor any animals chewing the cords & getting injured.

      If you need a bit more info on the Mysterious Purr Pad or Snugglesafe, please refer to the above comments to this hub.

      Looking forward to hearing about how the cat(s) respond to their new cat house.

    • profile image

      flashrob 7 years ago

      ...thanks Jean for the advice...I'll look into your suggestions.

      What I did do so far, and this is just to get something in place...

      1. I looked around in my basement for materials I might already have...and settled on an "empty large plastic trash can.

      2. I also found a "used comforter."

      Actual temp solution:

      1. I dusted the inside surface of the trash can (it had only been used to store dry stuff when I had last moved, so it was never really dirty or wet...just sitting empty in the basement.)

      2. I used "duct tape strips" which I looped making them double-sided sticky, and applied them liberally to the inside bottom and sides of the plastic can.

      3. then, I cut the comforter (not down...but inside was 3/4in thin foam) into two strips about 18in X 72in and affixed the center of the first strip to the bottom of the can and patted the comforter strip sides to the side of the can. Then, I did this with the other comforter strip (with some xtra tape strips to the bottom of the now covered can to hold the 2nd strip of comforter in place. Then I ran several rings of duct tape acround the top of the can, thereby binding the 2in or so of excess comforter sticking out at the top open end of the can to the top of the can. The inside of the finished can now had a cushioned/insulated interior.

      I used an xtra "plastic tub lid" that fit over most of the opening...leaving about 4inch space for the cats to crawl in. I affixed this to the can by running a "6ft long bungee cord around the outside bottom/sides of can to "hold the lid cover in place.

      Now, to keep this from getting wet outside. I had an outdoor "table next to my outdoor shed" (about 4ft diameter)...so I covered this with a "a heavy duty shower curtain liner" (you can get these 72in x 72in heavy duty shower curtain liners at Walmart for about 6 dollars... and they are better and easier to use than a tarp. You can place stones or bricks on top of table to keep it from being blown by wind or weigh down ends of curtain with flips and fasten weights to them, etc.

      Anyway, I got the cover on the table to cover both the can and the table. I put about 1/2 the can under the table with the opening facing inward. The covered table, and now covered give the cats a dry outdoor area under the table, plus dry access to the can.

      I saw the cats exploring this, and assume they'll try it. (the kittens have a crawl hole under the shed, which gives them some protection from elements, but I don't think it's too comfortable under there.

      Time will tell if this works.

      In continuing days, I'll look around for a "large plastic container or can, and work on affixing one of those 12dollar plastic doors you can get at Petco...this to give greater warmth potential as it will "not have a permanent access opening" as my present jury-rig solution does.

      Thanks again, for your suggestions...I'd definitely prefer not to have to do electric, etc., so I'll look into them.

      regards,

      flashrob

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 years ago from TX

      flashrob,

      Sounds like you've made a good start on keeping the cat(s) warm & dry. My preference would have been to go with the 20 degree rated sleeping bag over the comforter.

      While the comforter is better than nothing, it doesn't provide nearly enough warmth thru the really cold weather. (32 degrees & below). I'm sure cost is a consideration, so please don't feel like I'm being critical here. I just have strong opinions about what will do the best job in keeping cats warm over the cold winter months while not breaking your bank or budget.

      Really liked your solution of using a shower curtain over a tarp...great idea. Hope all goes well.

    • profile image

      brett george 7 years ago

      Over the years I have come up with several places for outdoor cats to spend the winter or just get away from bad weather.

      I have 5 cats now, all of which are indoor only (and all rescues) and there are 2-4 strays I take care of as well.

      They seem to find me all the time.

      I have done several of the things already mentioned. I have 2 'dog'loos, 2 outdoor hotpads, 4 home built cat shelters and I use tarps to build windbreaks under my back deck.

      The best thing I have ever done is to buy bales of straw (not hay) and use it to insulate everything. Straw is cheap and easy to change out if it gets wet, spoiled by cat spray or whatever. It is an excellent insulator and the cats like to worm right in and make little nests.

      The last thing I did but don't recommend, is to cut a small opening in my garage for them to get in there. I have an old oil-filled heater that I turn on when it gets too cold.

      the only reason I did this was because we had a record breaking winter as far as low temps last year. It felt like I was back in Alaska! The bad thing about letting them in the garage is that some spray to mark territory and that can be nasty. I felt the cats lives more important though.

      Other than that, the other most important thing is to try and leave them clean water, changed daily if possible and keep from freezing too. Animals need to be given water more in winter as it is harder for them to find on their own.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 years ago from TX

      Brett George,

      Well, it sounds like you definitely know what you're doing when it comes to keeping cats warm in winter. Outstanding job! You're absolutely right when it comes to pointing out that it's STRAW and not hay for doing a great job in insulating and keeping cats warm.

      You've got a point about cats spraying/marking your garage. Cats are very territorial & most especially when it comes to survival (& a warm garage most definitely qualifies). Luckily, there are many products now, out on the market, to take care of the nasty odor of cat spray. The ones I've found to work the best are the ones that have enzymes as the main ingredient.

      Thanks for leaving such good comments.

    • profile image

      cturner 7 years ago

      I adopted 2 cats from the shelter about a month ago. They are outdoor cats and are enjoying roaming our 100+ acres of woods. I am curious, we built a cat house for them with a roof, it is up off of the ground, has a few small windows and a flap door. Since the cats have been on their own, they only come around to the front porch at night to eat they run when they see us look out the window at them.

      Will they "know" how to use the flap to go into the cat house? We currently have the flap taped open so that they can come and go, but so far they haven't used it.

      I have heard that cats are pretty smart, but do they have to be "trained" to use the flap or will they figure it out on their own? Thanks!

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 years ago from TX

      cturner,

      To be honest, I can't say positively, one way or another in answering your question - i.e. - will they figure out how to go in their new shelter?

      You're providing them with a very critical need - shelter from the weather/elements. Most cats are very intelligent, so that's a positive factor (for going inside the shelter). Also, their natural curiosity should also help them investigate the shelter.

      I wouldn't be surprised if they investigated the shelter - in fact, they most likely HAVE gone in, but you didn't see them do it. Why I say this is taken from your comment - "they run when they see us looking at them". They're not going to make themselves visible to you if they can help it. They're outside only cats & therefore much more independent than an inside cat.

      If the shelter is insulated, has a soft "bed" for them & keeps them warm in the winter, more than likely, they'll get the picture & use it as they need to. Remember - cats are going to make themselves as comfortable as possible. If the shelter provides for their needs, they'll use it.

    • profile image

      flashrob 7 years ago

      to get outdoor cats to try shelter, I would suggest affixing the flap-door in an open position (temporarily), then placing a can of "wet cat food" inside... I think they will definitely go into kennel to get food... once they are used to doing this... you can free flap... and I think they will now go in, etc. My cat wouldn't sit on "black plastic" bag under a light in garage (to keep warm). So, I put his food under the lamp... and after "testing it," he went under the lamp... and now knows he can get warm there. Though he doesn't sit on his cushion (under the lamp) even on some cold days when I'm around... I have found him sitting on the cushion under the light, when I went into garage "unexpectedly late at night" when it was cold... and there he was sitting under the light. I also used "black light bulbs" because the "regular bulbs" are too bright I think...

      regards,

      flashrob

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 years ago from TX

      flashrob,

      Don't know that I would use food inside the shelter - especially depending on the size of the shelter. 1.) There's too much likelihood that the food might spill on the blanket or sleeping bag & then it would have to be cleaned up. Cats like to be clean as much as possible.

      2.) There's always a danger of inviting the wrong animal to use the shelter if you use food indiscriminately as a lure. The idea is to lure the cats to use the shelter, not racoons, stray dogs, possums or any other animals.

      You have to be VERY careful how you use food & outside animals to achieve the results you desire.

    • profile image

      Sarah 7 years ago

      I have several feral cats at my complex that I am caring for. I have to be careful when helping them as my landlord is of the opinion that all their shelters and food need to be taken away so they'll go away-we all know this isn't true. As a result, I can't be seen caring for them and as 10 of the houses I've put out have been removed, I have had to limit checking them often. So in the winter I bed them down in Wood Wool. It's shredded Aspen tree I think. It's also called excelsior. The beauty of this stuff is that even if it gets wet, it will hold heat. So if I can't get to the newest hiding places for the shelters regularly to change the bedding, I know if will keep the cats warm. This stuff is amazing.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 years ago from TX

      Hey Sarah,

      Thanks for adding your comments. Good for you - making sure the cats in the complex are taken care of in spite of your unenlightened landlord.

      What a wonderful product, Wood Wool (or Excelsior). It sounds like a great way to keep cats warm, especially if the weather turns nasty & wet. I haven't heard about this product before, but am glad you told all of us about it. Will have to check it out for myself.

    • profile image

      Julie 7 years ago

      Hi,

      Over the past couple of monthes I've noticed two 12-13 monthe old kittens and their mom hanging around my house ( I live out in the country).. I've been putting food out for them every morning and every night. IN the mornings I put the food out in what I call a clubhouse.. It was made by my uncle a couple years ago. Anyway the kittens and their mom have come to eat the food every morning and every night. I'm pretty sure the kittens and the mama are wild, but I'm able to get somewhat close to the sometimes. Winters coming, it's already starting to get windy and cold outside. I'm afraid these cats will freeze to death or just not make it through the winter. I'm not sure if I should try and catch them or not. I'm going to continue putting food out all winter long. Around my house there's lots of windbreakers for the cats to hide but i'm worried about when we get snowstorms. I want soo bad for these cats to let me pick them up and just bring them inside my house but they wont let me close enough and I want for them to come to me.. not me go to them. Like I said though there's this clubhouse that is somewhat warm, and cuts down on wind a little bit. However there's no door on it and the screens on the 2 window have broken off so I'm not sure how warm it'd be in the winter. I've put 2 blankets in it but I don't think they really use them. The cats look prettyy healthy, they're soo fat! PLeaseeeee help! Should I try and catch them? I'm on a tight budget so I can't really buy anything but I can always improvise with what I have here at my house.

    • profile image

      Julie 7 years ago

      PS: There is also a couple barns that I'm sure if the cats really wanted to they could get int to them.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 years ago from TX

      Hi Julie,

      I understand being on a tight budget - you do what you can with what you've got. It's great that you want to help the cats survive the winter.

      Just because you haven't seen the cats use the blankets, doesn't necessarily mean that they don't use them. Keep in mind, cats are going to do whatever they can to be as comfortable (and warm) as possible - specially in the cold winter months. Also, if they're feral, they're going to be naturally shy & won't do stuff where you can see them doing it.

      Keep in mind, while you want to make them inside cats, this is a LONG process. It takes tons of patience. You've got the right idea - let them come to you. They have to feel like it's their idea. So keep feeding them & providing the best shelter you can. They will appreciate this & it will provide possible motivation for them to stay. If they choose to stay, it will provide you with the time to let them get to know you better & maybe over the long haul, they'll eventually let you pet them...then, pick them up...and down the line, let you take them inside.

      Having windbreaks around the property is great. Putting the blankets in the clubhouse is also really good. If you haven't already done so - look at my hub and all the great comments folks have already left. There are some wonderful suggestions, and not all of them are expensive. One of the lesser cost ideas is straw. Straw bales are great insulators from the cold.

      Also, you might want to see about looking at garage sales & flea markets (those type of venues) for a good rated sleeping bag. If you can't find a good sleeping bag, then try adding more blankets/towels to the two you already have. This will provide more nesting material for the cats to burrow into so they can then snuggle up with each other to keep themselves warm.

    • profile image

      Julie 7 years ago

      Thanks, for replying back so fast, and good advice as well!

      Thank youuu!

    • profile image

      Jade 7 years ago

      I have 5 outdoor cats. Mom and Dad and 3 kittens.

      How I keep my kittens warm.

      When we moved into our house, someone left a BIG dog carrier.

      Well I filled it with cedar chips (keeps fleas away too)

      and put fluffy fleece over it, and being that the carrier has air holes on the sides of it,. I covered the entire top with 2 heavy fleece/flannel blankets to cover the holes. I even tucked the blankets between the top and the bottom to keep any wind out. along with that the opening is covered with those 2 blankets to keep wind out.

      also on the super cold nights. I take my mircowavable heating pad, and super head it up. wrap itin a towel and put in the shelter box. so with all that and the 3 of them sleeping together,. I AM HOPING it will be enough to keep them warm through the cold winter!

      I may even go ahead and put an electric heating pad in there if it gets to aweful cold.

      Oh and I put the sheleter box on my back deck where I feed them, and it is facing a bench I have out there, so that also helps keep the wind out.

      not to mention it is close to the dryer vent. so on laundry days they get that extra warmth too. (DO NOT DO THAT IF YOU HAVE A GAS DRYER!!!!)

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 years ago from TX

      Jade,

      Great ideas for keeping your family of 5 cats warm - using fleece & flannel, plus making sure you've got no drafts or wind blowing directly into their shelter. Really like the addition of dryer-heated air. (and your good & accurate warning about NOT using gas dryer for keeping cats warm).

      Not sure if your microwavable heating pad is a "SnuggleSafe" or not. SnuggleSafe is a great product - if you're curious, please see above comments. Anyway, you might want to purchase another re-heatable pad, that way you can switch out - use one in the night, then switch & use the newly heated pad during the daytime. That way, the cats can have the extra warmth 24/7...the advantages of having more than one pad to be used.

      Things to keep in mind...Downside to electric heating pad - there are dangers in using an inside product outside. Greater risk factor for fires; tripping on the cord (humans); eating/chewing on the cord (kittens, other wild animals).

      Otherwise - outstanding job! Kudos for your creativity.

    • profile image

      Eileen 7 years ago

      I'm not real sure of the dryer vent air, if you put your hand in front of your dryer vent air it is a very moist heat, moist will result in the cat being damp and a damp/wet cat in the cold is dangerous. I don't think cats would like the laundry detergent/fabric softener smell either.

      P.S. Hi Jean, I still check back on this thread for new information. I am glad you are still using the mysterious purr pads, I have re-stocked for this winter season and I just love them.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 years ago from TX

      Hi Eileen,

      GOOD comment about the dryer vent air being very moist heat & a damp/wet cat in the cold is dangerous. Since I've got allergies, I don't use scented laundry detergent/fabric softener (so my kitties don't have problems with what products I use), but you're right about cats not always liking scented laundry products.

      Also, thanks for the "thumbs up" about my hub & for checking back for new info.

    • profile image

      midwest 7 years ago

      Our 3 outside cats stay in a detached garage. There is a pet door that they use to get inside. We use a 250 watt infrared heat lamp wired safely and suspended from the rafters in the garage. The heat lamp draws 2 amps of current, and is much cheaper than any other type of electric heater, as it only draws 250 watts, about the same as your television. This is the type of lamp that farmers use to keep baby animals, like chicks, baby pigs, baby goats, etc. warm in the winter time, and have done this for over 50 years. The lamp heat is infrared, so it is a radiant heat, and is a slow, constant heat when they lie directly under it. These type of lamps are used in barns across the country, and have been for decades. They have a safety grill on them so if they fell, the lamp would not directly touch anything. We also made a bed for them out of a cardboard box, with the top covered, and insulated it with old coats, blankets, etc. The heat lamp is suspended about 2 feet above the top of the box. The cats like to lay on top of the box, under the lamp, and they keep perfectly warm. If you use a heat lamp, you need to get the type they call the Brooder Heat Lamp, for baby chicks. This has the ceramic lamp base, and can take the heat from the bulb. Do not use a trouble light base, since these are usually plastic lamp bases, get the ceramic. We have done this for decades with animals outside, and I don't ever recall any safety issues that any one had from these. I suppose you might hear a story of a barn burning down from a heat lamp, but for every one that this happened, there were thousands of instances where this worked fine. Again, this is for putting in an enclosed area, like a garage, or barn. Here are some examples......

      http://www.amazon.com/Woods-550165-Brooder-Heat-La...

      and

      http://www.amazon.com/WATTS-HOURS-LIGHT-INDUSTRIAL...

      Walmart sells these, as well as Tractor Supply, and any farm supply store.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 years ago from TX

      Great comment & suggestions! Thanks for letting the "city" folks in on your country secrets to keeping your outside cats warm.

    • kelitad profile image

      kelitad 7 years ago from Norwalk, Iowa

      Thanks for posting this Jean - our three cats are indoor cats but there is a cat that has taken to sleeping on our apartment's landing that my neighbors and I look out for and your tip about the bed explains probably why she won't use the one we made for her; it's on the ground

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 years ago from TX

      Kelitad,

      You're certainly welcome. Just remember, there might be other reasons why she doesn't use the bed (besides it being on the ground). For example: it might have a smell she doesn't like, the bed might make a sound when she gets in the bed she finds disturbing...there are SO many reasons, it's hard to list them all. Just know that with patience, you should be able to figure out the "why" and fix it so she can be as comfortable as possible.

    • profile image

      Kristin 7 years ago

      Hi Jean- I have a quick question: I have two precious main coon rescue kitties, they are indoor and outdoor cats, meaning they go in and out. We live in the Texas Hill Country, so its pretty pleasant in the winter, however we are in a cold spell right now and they want out, but I worry how long they should be outside, and what temperature is it generally safe to let them out? How cold is too cold?

      PS Petsmart (even though too pricy) has this really neat furry square pad that has the thermal insulator in it, but it doesn't make noise. My kitties love to sleep on it in the garage in their kennel.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 years ago from TX

      Hey Kristin,

      First of all, Maine Coon cats have an advantage over many other cats (heck, even us humans since we've got no fur at all). Their very thick undercoat, combined with their overcoat with the longer hairs keeps them very well insulated. And those hair tufts on their ears & paws also serve to keep them insulated year round. So their fur is great for those LONG & cold winters up North.

      However, that being said - of course there comes a point when it's just too plain cold for any mammal (cat OR human) to be outside. While I'm NOT an expert on when it's "officially" too cold, I have noticed the weather people tend to start talking about keeping animals inside during the night-time when temps start to drop into the lower 30's to upper 20's (and start REALLY mentioning it when those temps are in the teens).

      I can relate about the winter temps in Texas, since I'm in North Central TX (about 15 miles south of the Red River & due North of Dallas). Our temps have been dropping into the upper 20's lately, so I've brought in my outside guy (Oro) inside for a while...especially since he's just been injured in a fight from a couple of days ago. He's recuperating nicely & yowling to go out - BUT until he fully heals and the night-time temps are better, he'll just have to yowl for a while longer.

      Hope this helps.

    • profile image

      Lori 7 years ago

      Its been a year long process but I re-domesticated and neutered an abandoned male kitty who I named Rags for his torn ear (he will go after and fight cats who invade his outside turf). I have an inside Maine Coon who wants no part of sharing my condo/his house with Rags. Rags for his part has been well behaved when the two were introduced thru a baby gate but Bailey hissed and growled. I work out of my house and my condo is an open floor plan so i cant sequester cats!!!

      Rags has an outdoor dog house I fixed up with straw and a fleece mat his living arrangements for most of the summer and fall . Ive been letting him in to my indoor carpeted stairwell that goes up about ten stairs has two big turn stairs and then the stairway continues up again to a landing and the door to enter my condo. I placed his Litter box at bottom of stairs on tile in one corner and his food and water bowls nearer the stairs. I also bought a little plush half dome hidey hole which i placed on one of the bigger landing stairs. Not sure if he is using that yet but this cat has been thru three outside moves and is pretty smart.

      I feel bad hes by himself in the stairwell but I know hes safe and although not heated its a lot warmer then outdoors with no wind or wetness to deal with. Im sure he can hear the TV and I do check on him and say hello every few hours. He does got outside in the AM but usually spends most of the time on the doormat. Figure hes not on his guard on the time and will sleep most of the time in the stairwell anyway.

      Shelters are overflowing with cats and its not easy finding a good home. So i figure Ill make him as comfortable as possible. What he has now is ten times better then what he had last year when he would run from people and spent all winter outside.

    • profile image

      chelz 7 years ago

      just found a cat earlier this morning, it's cold outside (snowy and all).. we have too many cats inside for me to even ask to bring her in, so I made a bed for her in my garage on the top of the stairs (by the back doors).. i put towels on the ground and found a box in my garage that bottled water had been in (still with the plastic on it) and i wripped the opening wider for her to go in and put water bottles filled with hot water, she went in and cuddled her face against the part of the blank the water bottles were under :). It's almost 9am I'm just making her comfortable for the time being until my mom gets home. I thought of using the bottled water box because I know my cats love them they always sleep in them if it's laying on a table or tha floor.. We also have a few baskets of hay in the barn for the few boy cats that wander around here.. and hay seems to work, my indoor cats love sleeping in one of the baskets of hay if they end up getting stuck outside

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 years ago from TX

      Lori,

      Good for you - making Rags as comfortable (and warm) as possible this winter. Socializing a cat is a long process & takes tons of patience (as you obviously know from your experience).

      Please be aware that even if you did bring Rags inside & could sequester your inside cat from Rags, they both would hiss & growl, etc. for quite some time. According to most experts cats take some time to adjust to a "new" member of the household. Remember, cats are territorial.

      Luckily for Rags, he's in a much better place than outside this winter.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 years ago from TX

      Chelz,

      You are a life saver - literally! You did a great job in helping that cat keep warm.

      Don't know if you read my whole hub & the comments everyone left - but, there's alot of good info for keeping a cat warm during cold winter months. From your comment, it seems you know quite a bit. You choose a good location & the blankets with the hot water bottle is great. Also, straw is a good insulator.

    • profile image

      Denice 7 years ago

      I'm stressing out about my outdoor critters. I've put up a couple homemade shelters - rubbermaid storage boxes lined with mylar top and sides and filled with straw but I check everyday and can tell they haven't been used as the straw at the entrance is undisturbed. I understand a cat will do what a cat will do but if there's anything I can do to encourage their use, I'd love to hear it. It's a fairly new neighborhood so no sheltering shrubs are available to hide the boxes in. Maybe if I move them away from the food source ? It's already unseasonably cold here and this is keeping me awake at night

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 years ago from TX

      Denise,

      I can understand your concern, especially since it has been unseasonably cold most everywhere. You've got a good idea about moving it away from the food source.

      Also, you might want to try some towels, blankets, or sleeping bag(s) and put them in the shelter. It may just be those specific cat(s) don't like to burrow into the straw & just want something a bit more soft & cuddly. Another idea is to use something like the Mysterious Purr Pad which directs a cat's body heat back. Also, the snugglesafe product (which you heat up & the heat lasts for hours) is a good idea, too.

      If you haven't already done so, check out the comments to my hub above - there are some excellent suggestions (and they are certainly NOT all from me! )

      Hope this helps.

    • profile image

      Cheryl F 7 years ago

      Running water - takes a lot to freeze it. I have a very small ($29) pump in a little fountain I built. It has been running continuously for six years! Even in our 10 to 15 degree winters, it just keeps moving water. Sometimes the ice crowds around it, but just as long as there is some water moving, the birds and small animals have a place to get water. The fountain is less than 2' across and 5-6" deep, built expressly for this purpose but looks nice too and makes a friendly little water-fountain sound.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 years ago from TX

      Cheryl F

      Thanks for the comment. You're absolutely right - moving water is very hard to freeze completely. Great idea for providing the birds & small animals fresh water throughout the whole winter!

    • profile image

      James Dunn 7 years ago

      An abandoned kitty has taken up residence in a box on my porch. I installed an outdoor small animal heating pad (totaling $37) to help out with the overnight temperatures dropping to 14 degrees. Kitty seems very happy! Highly recommended if you can spare the 25 watts. See http://cozywinters.com/shop/kh-002-004.html Be sure to select the "outdoor" version.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 years ago from TX

      Good for you - making sure your "abandoned" kitty stays warm. This looks like a good product, but make sure there are no possible ways for outside creatures to chew thru those electric cords...could prove a hazard.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 years ago from TX

      Thaik,

      Good for you & your Dad, building a shelter for those feral cats. It's hard, I know, to see so many homeless animals & not be able to help them all...just know, you're doing what you can. Feel good about all the positive things you & your Dad are doing for those cats.

      Yes, I've seen the product you were asking about. It's a good product. Depending on your budget, you might want to take another look at all the comments left on my hub & compare all the products with each other to determine which product or combination of products would best suit your needs (& budget).

      Since Canada gets very much colder than it does here in Texas - I think you're on the right track with the insulated shelter you & your Dad built...and then adding the OUTSIDE heated pad to the shelter (or maybe even adding blankets for snuggling into besides the heated pad).

      Something else to consider - you mentioned about the cold & wind getting into the shelter thru the hole which is the entrance to the shelter. Have you considered some way to keep the cold & wind from getting in so easily? Some ideas - some plastic that the cats can move & still get in & out of the shelter, but will stop some of the wind (go look at places like Lowe's & Home Depot and how their cat/pet doors work).

      Another idea - instead of plastic, using a small blanket or towel somewhat over the entrance...again allowing the cats to get in and out, but blocking most of the wind and cold from getting into the shelter. Bottom line is the more you can block the cold & wind from getting inside, the warmer & easier it is to keep the cats warm and insulated.

    • profile image

      Thaik 7 years ago

      Hey thanks for answering so fast =]

      Yea, I've been looking in many websites to get the best outdoor heated pad since I'm worrying about the power consumption, is 40 Watt a lot considering the fact it'll be probably running 24h everyday.

      And yes, we knew in advance cold air would get inside, we used some kind of flexible plastic, the same material we used for the roof. Unfortunately, the cats didn't agree with that =[

      They come and stand before the entrance but won't get in, I guess they're afraid to get stuck inside, since they are feral cats, they don't completely trust us humans. They probably thought it was some kind of trap (even though we feed them and take care of them everyday, it's a shame).

      Good thing is, we didn't give up, since the shelter is placed in the corner of our balcony, we decided to cover the fences that surround the shelter with some thick blue plastic, those things you used for camping. At least that way, the wind won't directly hit the shelter and get inside, it would have to get over the fences in order to get in, if you know what I mean.

      Well, yea, coming back to the outdoor heated cat pad, I need to know if any of you ever used that product, or simply let me know if 40 Watt makes a big difference in the bill every month.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 years ago from TX

      Thaik,

      You're certainly welcome. Now, about the plastic covering...well, some cats don't mind & of course, some cats do. Unfortunately, feral cats are VERY wary of most things. Again, you might want to consider a blanket or towel partially covering the opening to the shelter. That way, the cats can feel somewhat safe going in and out of the shelter AND the cold air is at least somewhat blocked from going into the shelter. At least if this doesn't work, you've done all you can to keep the cold air out by using the blue plastic.

      As far as the heated outside pad goes...please see James Dunn's comment on this hub (which is right above your first comment). He references a "cozy winters" outside heated pad that only uses 25 watts. This should help budget wise.

      Also, if you are concerned about keeping the cats warm AND keeping to your budget...please look at all the other comments on this hub. There are several inexpensive ways to keep cats warm and NOT break your wallet. For example - the Mysterious Purr Pad and SnuggleSafe (from Eileen's comments above).

      Hope all this helps you & the cats.

    • profile image

      Thaik 7 years ago

      You got some great ideas here, about the blanket that covers partially the opening. I was thinking about it, I guess I'll give it a try =).

      And about the other ways to warm the cats.

      I'll do some more research & I'll think about it.

      Thank you for all.

    • profile image

      4happycats 7 years ago

      THANK YOU for this priceless information! I live in Iowa where it is currently 7 degrees outside and drops way below 0 at night. I have 4 cats in my home and there are several strays (some tame, some wild) that show up at my door. It is heartbreaking to see them in the cold, scrounging for food. I am happy to feed them and thanks to this site, I have learned that they need 'wet' food rather than dry (to conserve energy). I have also purchased a heated water bowl so they have water at all times.

      One little guy has been a regular at my door this past week. I feed him but I am desperate to provide shelter for him also. My 4 indoor cats will not allow a new cat to come in. I want to say thank you to the person who posted the Feralvilla.com link. It looks like it will be perfect for my visitors. I ordered it, but the only problem is, they say it is on backorder. I need something else immediately. Then I saw the post with the link for making an 'emergency shelter' from plastic tote bins and straw. I ran to my basement and dumped out two different sized totes and made the shelter. I didn't have any straw so I used flannel sheets and old winter jackets. I was able to pack quite a lot of material around the inner tote, so hopefully it will do the trick. I set it outside last night while my little guy (fairly tame) was visiting. He poked his head inside but did not go all the way in. At least he knows it's there if he wants to use it and I felt slightly better knowing I did what I could for him for now.

      Again, I want to thank everyone for their great information and advice, and for caring for the outside cats in their lives.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 years ago from TX

      4happycats,

      Thanks should also go to you for caring not only about your inside cats, but about the outside cats, too. It's great to hear from folks like yourself...someone who truly cares.

      FOR ALL THOSE WHO'VE CONTRIBUTED TO THIS HUB (and for those who will be contributing in the future ) my most humble THANKS! May all of you be blessed in more ways than you can count for caring & for making the lives of the animals you encounter just a little bit better & more comfortable.

    • profile image

      Aimee 7 years ago

      Thaik,

      I also had the same problem with the feral cat I've been feeding. We made a shelter using styrofoam with 2 square holes cut out for entries. To cover the openings, i cut a piece of clear plastic (like the type you use to cover chairs, tables, etc.) the exact width of the opening but an inch or so longer. Then used duct tape to tape it over the

      opening. Then i cut the plastic into a few strips from the bottom up so the cat could get in and out without any problem. I put his food bowl right at the opening till he got used to going in and out thru the plastic strips. He waits for me now everyday either right outside or in the shelter. It is on my covered porch right outside my sliding glass door so i can put food and warm water in to it easily.

    • profile image

      Aimee 7 years ago

      I also wanted to say that so far my "outside" cat seems to be using this shelter; at least during the day when he waits for me to feed him....not sure about at night, though. I made the shelter (first one listed) on this site: http://www.neighborhoodcats.org/HOW_TO_FERAL_CAT_W...

      Thanks so much Jean for this site, I've read it through and have just ordered the snugglesafe microwavable pad for under $30 with free shipping from amazon.com! Hopefully this will encourage the kitty to stay in the shelter during the cold winter nights.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 years ago from TX

      Aimee,

      Thanks for your comments. Good idea on the shelter you made...cutting the plastic into strips from the bottom up so the cat can get in & out with no problem. Also, using the food & water was very helpful, I'm sure.

      Thanks also, for your great link to Neighborhoodcats.org. The shelter listed there (with directions) looks to be outstanding. (The website looks good, too).

      Glad you liked my hub & all the great comments left on it by caring animal lovers. I'm sure your outside kitty will love his snugglesafe pad. It should keep him warm this winter & for many winters to come.

    • profile image

      Leah 7 years ago

      An abandoned apartment cat has adopted my family. I had my patio door open one night to clear some smoke out of my kitchen, and it poked it's little head in seeking food. We don't have much, but I opened a can of tuna I had and put it on a disposable lid, sent my kid down my back patio stairs with it, in the hopes that it wouldn't know who fed it. The next morning, on my way home from dropping my child off at preschool, it stalked us on the way home, and followed us to our front door. Once again, I put tuna on a lid and this time placed it under some bushes in front of my apartment. That night, she was back on my patio. I gave her my last can of tuna and some water, and I set out an old sofa cover that wasn't being used. She ate, and she curled up on the cover. We didn't know it, but it rained that night, but luckily only the bottom of the pile got wet, so it stayed snug.

      I finally got some dry cat food for it, 9Lives Plus. I'm hoping that the extra vitamins and minerals for her immune system and digestion will help keep her healthy this cold winter. To keep her warm as best as we can, we took an empty storage container, turned it on it's side, lined the bottom and back with old pillows, and piled some old baby blankets in it. I didn't have enough pillows for the sides, but I'm hoping that the container will be warm enough. She likes it though. As soon as we finished, she curled right up in there and went to sleep. We really can't do much to keep her healthy besides that.

      We give her fresh water and fresh food daily. I hope that when tax time comes around, she'll still be alive so that I can take her to the vet and get her spayed and vaccinated. I would love to bring her inside, but I can't afford the pet deposit, and without knowing her health status, I can't risk it. She's well-behaved and very friendly. I feel sorry for it, but I also need to protect it from my toddler. He's not old enough to be around pets, and I don't want the cat to scratch him if he pulls her tail. She's also bringing gifts. We dispose of them when we see them.

      I called the Humane Society for Fulton County, hoping that they would come and pick her up to keep her warm, but they gave me the brushoff, saying there's no law in Georgia about stray cats. They said I could put her in a box and bring her, but I don't have a car, and with that kind of thinking, I was more afraid that they might euthanize her instead. So, I'll protect her as long as I can.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 years ago from TX

      Leah,

      It's SO hard to take care of a cat when it's 1.)a stray & abandoned 2.) you don't have much in the way of extra money 3.) you get the brush-off from officials that SHOULD care more about the animals they're supposed to be protecting (shame on them...but, their karma WILL catch up with them - what goes around, comes around). It was good NOT to have taken her to the shelter...they most likely would have euthanized her.

      Anyway, what I'm trying to say is this - good for you for doing what you can. It might not seem like much, but it's really quite a bit of good you're doing. The cat is getting fresh water & food on a daily basis. This is critical for her survival, especially during the winter. Next, you are providing shelter which is also critical for her survival.

      I'm sure when you have the funds, you'll take the next steps necessary. If the cat is still around in the Spring, I agree with you, she needs to be spayed & vaccinated. If she's healthy enough, perhaps your toddler will be old enough to bring her inside. The recommended age (depending on the child) is about 5 years old. Only you know if your child is mature enough to bring the cat inside.

      Maybe you can see if your friends and/or family might be willing to help you in taking care of the cat over the wintertime (I was thinking of helping either money wise or with food, etc)...and maybe one of them might even want to adopt her as an inside cat.

      Hope all goes well.

    • profile image

      Cats 7 years ago

      Hi,

      I have a cat but he has to stay outside because of my mum not wanting him in side , this year is very cold in the winter its really snowed and my cat shivers all the time my dad brought him a cat bed thing and he put some fur underneath it so he can be comfy and not cold i kept him in the store this morning for an hour whice my mum allows but our cat has been lying around in his cat bed for ages were not sure if hes ill or just cold thanks Cats

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 years ago from TX

      Cats,

      Good for you & your Dad - trying to keep your cat warmer & comfy. It's understandable about you Mum...there might be a ton of valid reasons why the cat can't come inside.

      As for your cat lying around in his bed for ages - it could be 1.) cats sleep for approx. 16 hours a day on average; 2.) the cat's cold; 3.) the cat may be ill; 4.) something I haven't thought of at the moment.

      You might want to consider looking at all the comments on my Hub left by other readers. There are some great suggestions you might want to consider in keeping your cat warmer this winter while he's (or she's) outside.

      Also, taking the cat inside your store while your Mum's away sounds good (with her permission & knowledge, of course). You might want to clean up a bit after you let the cat back outside...this way, if you get rid of any pet hairs, etc. before Mum gets back, there will be less stuff for her to react to...that is, if she's allergic to cats. Depending on her reasons why she doesn't want the cat inside, letting the cat inside your store, might be a viable solution to a very cold winter.

    • profile image

      Mary 7 years ago

      I have two adopted cats, have had them for going on seven years and they stay in our garage. I have fitted out two inexpensive plastic covered litter boxes with old blankets, towels and pillows and which I change out regularly with the seasons. Installed in the main door of the garage is a cat door so the cats can come and go as they please. They are fed a can of wet food twice a day and share a plate of dry food all day.

      My problem is that other critters have been getting into the garage through the cat door. Mice, chipmunks, and yes, even a skunk which sprayed the garage (and my car!) in a fight over the food with the cats.

      Occasionally I need to travel and will be gone for a day and a night. I usually feed the girls well in the morning and pile up a whole chock of dry food to tide them over until I come home. But the critters that get in the garage eat all their food and I'm worried they will be hungry. This is a recent problem, one that has me flummoxed. Is there some way I can hide the cat's food from everyone but them? I have a sturdy shelf I could put their food on, but these girls are old, I don't know if they could make it up there and if I install a series of boxes leading up to the shelf for easier access, what's to stop the critters from using the stairs too? Do you have any ideas?

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 years ago from TX

      Mary,

      Ooh...good question. Don't have the best of answers. Even though I live in the country-side, I don't have too many "other critter" problems.

      Ideas - you might try rubbing your scent (human) on the cat door. (by rubbing your just removed tee shirt, or something you've worn for a few hours & has your scent/sweat on it.) It sounds gross, but if you scent the cat door, maybe the other critters will smell it & be warned away by the human scent. I know that scenting things with human urine will scare away deer...don't know if scenting the cat door with your human scent will scare away skunk or other "critters" that are getting into your garage.

      Hope this helps. Any one else who has any better ideas -- PLEASE chime in!

    • profile image

      John Knez 7 years ago

      Mary asked about how to deal with other animals coming in through a cat door to get food. She should consider putting a shelf on the garage wall and placing the food on the shelf. The shelf should be at least three feet off the floor. Healthy cats can easily leap this high, but most of the critters coming through the cat door can't. If her cats can jump four feet, a shelf this high will prevent even most raccoons from getting to the food. Putting up a sturdy shelf is relatively inexpensive and can be done with hardware available at just about any hardware store. The shelf needs to situated in such a way that other critters can not climb up to it. It should only be accessible by leaping.

      I found putting a cat door three feet off the ground, with a little shelf in front of it for the cats to land on, eliminated a raccoon problem we were having. If possible Mary should consider putting the cat door high enough to prevent the other critters from getting into her garage. While most of the animals getting in through the cat door are harmless nuisances, she definitely doesn't want to deal with a cranky raccoon. Or, heaven forbid, a rabid one.

      We have an enclosed porch that two strays take shelter in. Inside the porch there are a couple of sleeping areas I built out of cheap foam pillows. The sleeping areas are on the seats of old lawn chairs. They're basically tunnels built out of pillows that are held together by bungee cords. The entrance to the pillow tunnel faces the side of the chair, and the bungee cords run from the front of the seat to the top of the back of the chair. The cats always have food available and we keep a heated water bowl on the porch for them. The seem quite warm and content with this arrangement.

    • profile image

      michelle 7 years ago

      I have a strictly 12 year old cat that got out last night. It was pretty cold and windy all day today. I have a blanket, food, and water on our enclosed porch, but wondering if and when he will come back. I am sick over this. We have called animal control, spca, sent around fliers/talked with neighbors, and just walked the neighborhood. Any thoughts on what else to do and survival rates?

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 years ago from TX

      John,

      Thanks for the comments - you certainly provided some other alternatives for Mary's challenge with "other critters". Sorry it took so long to reply...very hectic holiday work schedule.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 years ago from TX

      Michelle,

      I'm SO sorry to hear about your 12 yr. old cat that got out last night! It sounds like you've done all you can at the moment to recover your beloved companion. It might sound "new age" or a bit "woo-woo," but animals do communicate thru visual communications...especially cats.

      You might want to get in a quiet place, get as calm (as possible) & picture your cat walking up to your door & scratching your door and meowing for you to open the door for him. Then picture you opening the door & taking the cat into your arms & taking him back inside. For whatever it's worth - this will help send more positive vibrations out to let him know 1.) you definitely want him back home and 2.) you will welcome him back home.

      Be aware, cats have been living outside for who knows how many thousands of years of feline development. While he is an older cat, he does have instincts that should serve him well while outside, on his own. I know it's not much, but my thoughts & prayers are with you for your beloved one to come home soon.

    • profile image

      Mary 7 years ago

      Thank you Joan and John for the ideas. I set the cat's food up on the shelf and created a "landing" area for them to get up/down and it worked nicely. It never occurred to me to install their cat door up high, that's a good idea too. Oddly, this has only recently been happening. I've had these girls for about seven years and never had a problem until this past summer. Thanks again for the great advice.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 years ago from TX

      Mary,

      You're certainly welcome. Hope everything works out well for you & your cat companions.

    • profile image

      Diana 7 years ago

      A stray(?) kitty has adopted us, but I can't bring her inside due to our current kitty. It's been getting down to 18 degrees at night, so I converted a covered litter box using insulation and a tarp on the outside, and then towels, blankets and a pet heating pad on the inside. But I'm still worried it's too cold, so I have a small space heater blowing near the door to the box. All of this is on my deck, and I'm worried about the heater being outside...do you have any thoughts? I can't find anything about a heater outside overheating / throwing a spark. I have the box, heater and outlet covered by a plastic "roof" (from the kid's water and sand table), but I don't know what I'll do if it starts to rain or snow.

      Do you have any thoughts?

      Thank you!

      Diana

    • profile image

      JKCarter 7 years ago

      I also made a cat igloo using two plastic totes, one larger than the other. I wrapped the inner container with R-13 wall/ceiling insulation (sold in rolls and made of fiberglass), then sealed the gap at the door with the foam insulation (in a spray can) to keep our cat from coming in contact with the fiberglass. You'll need a good 2-3 inch gap between the totes to fit the insulation between them. I just used a utility knife to cut the door out of both totes. The igloo is kept on top of a pile of boards in a covered tractor shed. I haven't put anything over the door yet, but was thinking of adding the clear plastic that was suggested earlier, to keep the wind out. My Maine Coon mix uses it without a heated pad. Food and fresh water are provided daily up at the house on the covered porch. We keep him in our mudroom at night (he comes when called, knowing that a small portion of moist food is waiting - just 1/3 of a can), and goes outside each morning.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 years ago from TX

      Diana,

      Good for you for providing some shelter from the cold. It's also good that you are careful (& concerned) about having a heater outside. Most heaters are not rated for usage "outdoors." The most I'll push the envelope is having an oil-type heater in my outside laundry room. (but this is an enclosed outside room with a door, roof, etc.)

      I certainly wouldn't have it "on" during any rain or snow for safety concerns. You might want to consider having a "SnuggleSafe" and/or the "Mysterious Purr Pad" - see above comments to my Hub. Both are great products.

      If your budget can't allow for these, then you might want to consider a good rated sleeping bag instead of the blankets. This would provide much more insulation & would keep the cat ALOT warmer than just what you have.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 years ago from TX

      JKCarter,

      Great idea for a cat shelter...very inventive of you! I really like the idea of the R-13 insulation between the 2 plastic totes & the spray foam insulation to seal the gaps & keep your cat from contacting the fiberglass.

      Sounds like you've done your research. Also, it's excellent that you take him inside at night (unfortunately, some of my readers don't have this option).

      Folks just need to keep in mind that a Maine Coon cat is a long-furred cat with a very thick undercoat & is therefore really well prepared for cold winters. Not every breed of cat has this advantage...this is just a small reminder to those folks out there who are not sure what a Maine Coon cat is.

    • profile image

      Katie 7 years ago

      Jean, I wanted to thank you for this great post and all the people who have contributed. I live in N Texas and my oldest cat, Ramses, is neutered and has had to become an outdoor cat after 8yrs as an indoor cat. He began spraying and being destructive in general in protest of another male cat family member. This was a last resort after attempts at modifying his indoor behavior were unsuccessful and I didn't want to give him up, so he moved to the backyard. He is quite enclosed and protected. He can't get out and, so far critters can't get in.

      Since moving him out, though, I have spent many nights up checking weather reports and stressing if he would be ok outside, especially when the winter got so cold this year.

      He has a plastic dog house that the dog wouldn't use that, modified with a heating pad, towels & blankets, and covered with big movers' blankets as wind shields. All of that tucked under a low roof constructed into the corner of the house and fence. So, although that sounds pretty thorough, even to me as I'm reading it, I've worried that he would be suffering since he was not feral, but an indoor cat that got himself uninvited to be indoors.

      He's still my sweet, affectionate boy and is allowed supervised indoor time, so I could have assumed he was fine. All the same everyone's comments have reassured me that he is likely quite alright and that I'm doing right by him under the circumstances. I appreciate the peace of mind this has provided.

      Thank you.

    • profile image

      Naomi 7 years ago

      Hi Jean

      I've enjoyed reading other people's posts about how to keep their cats warm. We have an 8 yr old cat who won't come inside. She likes to sleep under the bbq. We placed a wooden ledge there, that she can sleep on easily - it's slatted and we have a lovely cat blanket over it. I'm in Ireland and the weather is at its coldest in the last 40 years, well below zero, and quite a bit of snow. What we have been doing is to give her what we call a hot water bottle, covered with a towel. We change it regularly and she seems to like it. The bbq has a cover over it, and I also put more insulation around her little space, in the form of some insulating stuff that you put under wooden floors. (We just had wooden floors put in, and had a roll of this left over). I also have a piece of this stuff under her blanket that she lies on. It seems to get a bit damp in patches during the night, so I take it in when I get home from work and put it on the radiator. The blanket also gets a bit damp every night and we were wondering if it's the cat sweating, as it's only where she lies. No, the hot bottle is not leaking !

      I'd love to get a heat pad for her, but we don't have much in that line over here in Ireland.

      This cat is painfully shy, although quite friendly at a distance - we've had her since she was a kitten. She also has what the vet has described as "an imposing physique" .. she's pretty big. she doesn't get any food other than the two feeds we give her per day. We were thinking that she might have got big to ward off other cats - so that they might be a bit afraid of her. I have also been giving her warm water to drink and she loves that.

      Our bad weather is due to continue for a few more weeks so I guess we'll be giving her lots more hot bottles. I'm glad to read that just because she has a fur coat it doesn't mean she is warm. My husband was saying that she's a hardy cat and will be fine, but he's coming round to my way of thinking !

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 years ago from TX

      Katie,

      You're certainly welcome, and I appreciate all your wonderful comments about my Hub, and the great comments left by my readers. I've been fortunate that many of my readers have left really insightful suggestions on how to keep our animal companions as comfortable as possible.

      Kudos to you for keeping Ramses instead of giving him away, or giving him to a shelter. All to many times folks just give up on their animal companions...thanks for not giving up on Ramses.

      Great idea - about using big movers blankets as wind shields. They're VERY good for wind breaks & quite good at insulation, too. You might want to consider using --- a good rated sleeping bag, and/or the Mysterious Purr Pad, and/or the SnuggleSafe (see above comments to my Hub) instead of the towels and blankets.

      Since I also live in N. Texas, I know how quick a "blue Norther" can come in & get things WAY too cold, too fast. You're doing all you can, keep up the good work.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 years ago from TX

      Naomi,

      Some cats enjoy the inside, and some don't. It sounds like your kitty is one who much prefers the outside, period. It's the coldest winter here in the States, too...depending upon which State, it varies from the coldest in 25 years to the coldest in 50 years...bottom line, it's COLD everywhere.

      As far as the damp patches on her blanket, it might just be condensation from a combination of the hot water bottle, the insulation, blanket & the warm blooded cat. Since you're drying it out before she goes to sleep each night, I wouldn't worry about it too much.

      Since you mention you don't have much in the way of heat pads in Ireland, have you thought about putting the power of the Internet to work? You might want to use Google or the other large search engines to find a good heating pad (see above comments on the Hub for good ideas).

      Another point - remember, in the winter, and especially when the temperatures get really low, a cat (or any other animal for that matter) needs MORE food than they normally do. They need the calories & the energy produced to keep warm. You might want to consider either more food at each feeding, or more than 2 feedings per day in the winter time.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 years ago from TX

      Eileen,

      Thanks for keeping us all informed about new products to help keep cats warm. This looks like another really good product. Just be warned folks - this is a pricey product.

      Even though it IS pricey, IF your budget allows, keeping a temp of 85 degrees for 10 hours w/a rechargable battery sounds like a good & viable way to go. (Something to definitely keep in mind should your finances permit it.)

    • profile image

      Eileen 7 years ago

      Jean, I didn't even know if I should post it because of the price ($80.00) but I think it's always a good thing to have options. I have not purchased or used this (yet), but I am in Pennsylvania and wind chills are below zero here right now and it is only these bitter cold days and nights that make me wish I could provide a little extra heat for the outside strays. It would be great for manufacturers of pet products to start thinking about products that can be heated with something like rechargeable batteries. I am still using all my other products, which I love, but I am always looking for things to make the kitties as comfortable as I can make them. Once again Jean, thank you for caring enough to have this site.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 years ago from TX

      Eileen,

      I agree with you - we all need & should have options available to us. It's good to know and be aware of new products as they come out.

      Good idea - we all should let the manufacturers know our preferences. How else can they improve products, let alone come out with new products if they are unaware of what we need, want & will definitely use and buy?

      By the way - you are most welcome. One of my passions (obviously) is cats, so it made sense to write/hub about what I love and know.

    • profile image

      naomi 7 years ago

      Hi Jean,

      Thanks for those comments. On your website I saw the dogloo thing and I went to the local pet store and they had a cute one there - it looks like a pumpkin! It was kind of pricey ... about 80USD, but we got it, and the kitty loves it. I've also removed the padding that was getting damp (today), as the igloo is also sitting on a vet rug (which was her original bed), so I'll keep an eye on that to make sure all stays dry.

      I'll be kinder to her too with regard to food !

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 years ago from TX

      Hi Naomi,

      Glad your kitty loves her "dogloo" house.

      Just FYI, for you & others - when looking at local stores for "ready built" shelters, or shelters that only take a bit of putting together - keep in mind, Feed Stores and/or Live Stock stores (i.e. stores like "Tractor Supply") usually have very good shelters that have some insulation.

      Sometimes you have to think a bit outside the box. Pet stores are not the only ones that have what you might be looking for, nor do they always have the best prices.

    • profile image

      Paula 7 years ago

      Hello Jean and All,

      A few nights ago I was concerned about our outside unsociable cat Cali staying warm in these really cold nights. I remembered we had some hothands handwarmers we had purchsed for a parade that had gotten rained out, so the next night I opened them up, 2 to a pkg for $1 and laid them in her outdoor cathouse, like a 2 story dog house a friend had made a long time ago, this seems to keep her comfortable I have placed 2 in her home every night these last bitter cold nights. The cathouse also has a serape, pillows and a wondrous micofiber throw, normally that is enough to keep her warm as she usually curls up under the deck unless it is bitter out. She drinks quite a bit of fresh water every morning. Last year I made a cardboard box nest for our sweet Edgar (the neighborhood embassador) I used foam rubber that was in some packing for all the inside walls, old blankets over the whole thing, and pillows, blankets inside and alot of dry eaves piled near the entrance, it sat on padding on the ground in a protected corner near the porch away from snow and rain, he seemed happy with it, to get him to lie in it I petted him and kept getting my hand closer to the middle of the box, he finally got the idea. Sadly he passed away last summer, lived 15 years. Edgar Allen Poe is buried near his prissy sister Annabelle Lee that passed away several years ago.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 years ago from TX

      Paula,

      My condolences about Edgar(Allen Poe). It sounds like he was a wonderful companion & neighborhood ambassador. At 15, he lived a good long time and I'm sure he was very happy & content w/his life.

      You have some very good ideas for keeping your cats warm in the winter months. Don't think I would've remembered about using hand warmers.

      Just a thought - even though hand warmers are inexpensive, you might want to look at "SnuggleSafe". They are re-heatable and so would cost less in the long run. Since Cali seems more than warm enough with the hothands handwarmers, whatever you decide will be the best decision, (especially since you know Cali the best).

    • profile image

      Kristen 7 years ago

      About a month ago, a stray started coming by. We now feed him and give him fresh water everyday. I even bought him an igloo and put hay in it. He's not using it even though it's been cold at night (Southern California cold). He generally sleeps in a rectangular flower pot that has dirt in it. Last time it rained I'm not sure where he went. It's raining again tonight and I'm worried he'll be out in the rain.

      I tried putting catnip in the igloo, he went in, but isn't using it regularly. Is there a way to get him in there? Actually, he DOES use it, recently putting a mouse head and dead baby mouse in there for us - just not sleeping in there. Any thoughts? I read using blankets is bad because of mold and moisture.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 years ago from TX

      Kristen,

      Good for you, feeding & giving fresh water to your "stray" male cat & for providing shelter. Just so you know - Hay can get damp & moldy too...you just have to keep an eye on whatever you're using in your shelter. When it gets too damp, throw the hay away. If you're using blankets, etc. then get them cleaned & dried and put them back into use.

      It really depends on how cold it gets - whether or not just the hay will keep him warm all through the night. As I said, as long as you're keeping tabs on the moisture levels, you can use blankets (although I personally prefer either a good rated sleeping bag, and/or the Mysterious Purr Pad, and/or the SnuggleSafe products).

      There are a ton of great suggestions on this Hub - not only from me, but from my wonderful Readers. Check out some of the comments. Then decide what will work best for you (and your budget).

      As for getting him to go into the igloo shelter...well, that's easier said than done, sometimes. If you make sure his water & food are nearby the shelter, then that is about it (not all cats like catnip, by the way). It's really up to him...if he goes into the shelter & uses it or not. A cat will do what a cat will do, and we humans can't force a cat to do much of anything. All we can do is encourage & let them make up their minds.

    • profile image

      Robert H 7 years ago

      This feral kitten became my first new friend since my last cat died many years ago God must have sent her. I didn't know whether I'd have another one as much as I love cats especially kittens. I got the name from this engine search and her name is Oreo being gray and white. Not all is evil in this universe. As long as there are cats in this world there is hope and they will be around for a long time to come.....Robert H.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 years ago from TX

      Robert H -

      Couldn't agree with you more..."where there are cats, there is hope". Condolences on your cat passing away (long ago, but still...), and also many best wishes that you and your new kitten, Oreo enjoy MANY long, happy, healthy & contented lives together.

    • profile image

      carlos 7 years ago

      hello..two of my house cats were abandoned by one of my family members in an open field, we found one but cant find the other one. is a way we can make a home for her outside so she can keep warm and know that were looking for her...were so heartbroken cause shes about ten years old and very slow..some neighbors saw her running into the sidewalk sewer drain...im so scared shes cold and living in the stinky sewer..can i leave some kind of shelterfor her as a trap so we can catch her and bring her home...i cry every night thinking of her being cold, we live in missouri and its like 10 degrees outside with wbelow zero wind...please help

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 years ago from TX

      Carlos,

      I'm SO sorry to hear this. There are a couple of things you can do.

      There is something called a humane trap. It's made so when the animal goes in, there's a spring that gets activated and the door closes & the animal is kept in the trap and can't get out. I've used these kind of traps before and they do work.

      The best bait I can think of to use with this trap is tuna. Most every cat I know of, loves tuna. The only downside to this type of trap is that it does not discriminate as to which animal gets trapped. A while back, when I was trying to trap one of my outside feral cats to get her neutered, it took me a few days because I kept getting other animals and not her. (critters like opossums, racoons, etc.)

      If you don't want to try this, you might consider using a can of tuna, or tuna-flavored canned cat food and go around your house & neighborhood calling for her. She may come out. If she does, stop where you are and keep very still. While you are keeping still, quietly & softly tell her you love her, that you miss her...things of that nature.

      After a few moments go by and she hasn't run away from you...then very slowly bend down and put the tuna/canned cat food down on the ground. Make sure it's a little distance away from you, but closer to her. See if she'll go for the food. She should be very hungry at this point in time.

      When she's occupied with the food, see if she's skittish. If she's not to skittish, see if she'll come to you. If not, see if you can make a grab for her while she's occupied with eating the food. Normally, if she's been an inside cat for a long time, she should be more than willing to come to you after eating the food.

      I hope this helps & that you are reunited with your cat very soon.

    • profile image

      Rose 7 years ago

      Thanks for the suggestions. We had a litter of cats under our deck, last spring of 2009. I have never cared for cats before, only dogs as pets. I could not abandon them, so I fed them. One cat out of a litter of 5 remained. We tried to get him to come in for the winter, but he refuses. We actually have been doing what you suggested. I am glad to see that we are doing the right things. Thanks for your expertise. And..."Ivory" thanks you, as well.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 years ago from TX

      Rose,

      Good for you for taking care of the litter of kittens & not abandoning them! Am glad to hear the suggestions in this Hub have helped. Both you and Ivory are most welcome. It's great to hear Ivory has thrived & grown into a healthy cat.

    • profile image

      Hunter 7 years ago

      another way cats love to keep warm especially indoor cats is if they lay down next to you at night, i know definitely my cat when he gets chilly during the day or at night comes and cuddles up around me or gets inside my covers or jumps under my nightrobe that i leave lying on my bed loosely so that he can claw his way under it, he loves it in the morning if i put my nightrobe over him because it has my scent on it and plus its warm,

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 years ago from TX

      Hunter,

      You're so right about those inside kitties loving to cuddle-up as close to you as possible to get warm. I jokingly tease my husband during the winter months by saying..."well, it's going to be a 3-cat night." As it gets colder each winter evening, I don't have to listen to the weatherman for the temps - I just count cats in our bed. The more cats, the colder the temps outside.

      Good for you for allowing your cat to keep warm by snuggling up to you at night!

    • profile image

      Cathleen 7 years ago

      Thanks for all the wonderful comments and ideas.

      I am trying to build an outdoor enclosure for my two boys, KissKiss and CoCo (both about 4 years old) and I am trying to design something that they can use year round, keeping in mind that I live in Northern Canada and it gets mighty cold (-30 celcius) during the winter. The ideas you have provided here have given me lots to think about and are making me feel more comfortable in designing something that is going to suite my needs and the needs of my boys.

      Thanks!

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 years ago from TX

      Cathleen,

      Glad you found my Hub & not only enjoyed the comments and ideas, but found them helpful. Hope you and your boys have long, happy and healthy lives together.

    • profile image

      quilttyme 7 years ago

      Jean, I'm thrilled to have found you and hope you can help me. I live in south Fl, so it's not too cold except for this past winter. I have one outdoor feral cat that I feed regularly. I trapped her and her kittens and had them all neutered and they got shots. I then found home for the kittens except for 2, which I kept. I bought an outdoor cathouse for the mama last winter, but she was too scared to ever go in it. I now am feeding her 3 times a day in hopes of keeping her close. Do you have any ideas what I can do to improve her life outdoors? I am putting liquid flea control in her food once a month.

      She is always very skittish and often stays hidden. I want to do more for her. Any ideas? I know I sound overboard, but can't help it. lol

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 years ago from TX

      Quilttyme,

      Glad you found my Hubpage, and NO you don't sound overboard to me (but then, I'm passionate about cats...understatement of the year). GOOD for you, for having Mama Cat and her kittens neutered & getting them their shots!

      As far as the outdoor house & Mama's hesitancy, you might try a couple of things. The house might smell "too new." Smell is an important factor in cats. If you could put a cloth with her scent inside the house, it might make it more acceptable to her. I'd recommend (if Mama will let you pet her) - after petting Mama for a moment or so, take the cloth you want to place in her cathouse and rub it along the sides of her face & along her body. Her scent will rub off on the cloth. If you ever watched cats "scenting" a tree or other object, they will rub the side of their face along the object. There are scent glands along the side of a cat's face. (Since you do NOT want her to pee in her house, getting her scent any other way is not acceptable at this time.)

      Another idea - if she won't let you pet her, then you might want to try putting some food close by the house. That way, she'll associate the house with positive things (getting fed). Also, if she likes catnip (not all cats do) then you might try putting a small amount of catnip on a towel and put it in the cat house. Same idea...getting Mama to associate the house with positive things. That way, she'll be more inclined to go in the house for shelter.

      Feral cats take a whole lot of patience. Over time, she'll come to see you care for her...feed her, etc. It will normally take time for a feral cat to learn to trust a human. Allow her to do things on her schedule. If she doesn't want you to pet her yet...so be it. After a while, you'll find she will be getting closer and closer to letting you pet her. Then after some more time, you'll find she'll let you know if she wants to be petted. With patience and time, you'll be amazed at what can be accomplished!

      Hope I answered your questions.

    • profile image

      Joanne 6 years ago

      HI Jean, I have six indoor cats that I have rescued. But since I moved to my house last September, the one cat that I thought belonged to a neighbor, has had a little kitty friend. I thought it was one of her own from a litter, but I have now learned that this cat is male, and he and the little friend had kitties together. I feed them daily, sometime twice, both wet and dry food. I make sure in the heat that the wet does not spoil. They now bring the litter to get food , so I have a total of 5 strays outside. They run when I come out to give them food, but as soon as I go in, they all eat and hunt and the kitties use my yard as a playground. I am worried about the winter, so I am happy I found your sight. I do have a bulkhead door that leads to a basement door. I do not use it in the winter, so if I left it partially opened and put sleeping bags and hay inside the bulkhead, I wondered if the cats would use it. I just wonder how to get them to go to the bulkhead door, so they know there is warmth there? I have a very large deck and I can make a home with an igloo and insulate it for the cas, but knowing there is 5 of them, all related, I would need a large igloo. I can put sleeping bags, and insulation and put it up on a pallet, but I was hoping the bulkhead might be warmer. Any suggestions???

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Joanne,

      First of all - good for you for taking care of the cats, both the inside rescued ones, as well as the latest outside ones. Taking care of cats - whether during the summertime or winter, can be a challenge.

      Since I don't have a picture of your bulkhead door and how it leads to your basement, it's kind of hard to say for certain if this would be a good solution or not. My main concern is this: if the cats have to go "down" to get to the hay/sleeping bags, then this would not be the best solution. Heat rises, and cold drops. If the cats have to go down to get to the sleeping bags, the winter cold & wet would also go down and "pool" down around the sleeping bags making it harder to keep the cats warm, especially during the night time hours.

      While it might be a bit more work, my first reaction would be to go with the igloo/shelter and insulate it for the cats - especially since you are thinking about this WAY before winter gets here. This gives you some time to get everything together, get the cats more accustomed to you being around them, etc.

      Also, remember, the cats will most likely all sleep cuddled up next to each other, so one large igloo (with sleeping bags, insulation,etc.) should keep them nice & cozy warm.

      Hope this helps.

      Jean

    • profile image

      Bea 6 years ago

      The very best bedding for any cat's house, be it igloo, cardboard box that has been covered with tarp, or a box within a building, is STRAW. There is a huge difference between STRAY and hay. Hay will break down, become flat and does not act as an insulator. STRAW, however, does not break down and is one of the BEST insulators for any kind of animal bedding on God's Green Earth. I live on a hay farm, where we sell 1000's of bales of hay each year, but but for my outdoor cats' bedding, I buy one bale of straw and will it will insulate even the largest igloo box and still have a ton left over. It might cost you a bit in your area for straw (last time I bought a bale it was around $6.00 a bale and may be more now). However, it will last a very, very, very long time ... and, more imorportantly, it will remain dry, even though your kitties will come in at times with wet feet. Very different than sleeping on blankets, towels, or other cloth material beddings that once wet are impossible to dry unless taken out of the box.

      A few tips when using straw:

      1.Fill the cat box completely up with STRAW. Then make a tiny tunnel opening at the entrance. Cats will usually do this on their own, however.

      2. If you have no way of hauling a bale of straw but can find someone who sales it. Take along some big sturdy garbage bags and break the straw down so that you might haul the bags in your vehicle. A bale of straw is a LOT of straw. Therefore, you might ask if you can simply get a bag of straw from the seller, for you cat's bed. Who knows, they might even let you have a bag or two for free ... or at less cost.

      3. Get ready for your cat to LOVE you to pieces for having given them the warmest bedding in the world!

      All farmers and people with animals that need bedding will tell you it is STRAW not Hay ... Not cloth. STRAW, STRAW, STRAW!

      Hope this helps ... BUT .... God bless everyone of you is doing whatever you can to make these precious kitties comfortable. I salute you!

      Bea

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Bea,

      What an informative & outstanding comment you've left for all of us! It's clear and to the point.

      Thank you SO much for finally clearing up the difference between hay & straw. This is extremely helpful to all of us - no matter where in the U.S. or in the World we live. God bless you, Bea for doing what YOU could to inform and make kitties everywhere warmer, more comfortable & have better lives.

      Jean

    • profile image

      Joanna 6 years ago

      Thank You so much for your site! I have had some strays wander into my yard and I usually will get them socialized then find a home or if necessary (due to sickness or etc) either take to a vet or contact an animal group. But this year with the economy and all, everyone is tightening their belts and/or the animal groups are full up..Your site and other who have commented have made me feel much better about my strays and the ideas for keeping them warm are great! Thanks again!

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Joanna,

      You are certainly welcome! Kudos to you for letting the strays stay in your yard, and for taking care of them, getting them socialized, finding homes, and when necessary, taking them to a vet. They're some really excellent comments & suggestions here...you're right about that. So glad this was helpful to you!

    • profile image

      Suzette  6 years ago

      Wonderful site! Thanks for all the great ideas! We live in the country and also the Northeast and the winters can be brutal!Especially for our precious outdoor creatures. Last winter we let our 2 outdoor cats stay in the garage with a litter box but the smell can sometimes not be pleasant. Our garage is heated for winter work so the cats would stand outside freezing until my husband and I would ,sometimes forget, to let them back in. I couldn`t figure out why they wouldn`t get in our back shed in the mean time.Also the cats seemed to like being "up" on our cars so I would always be driving with lots of paw prints! It was funny to watch everyones reaction when they walked by my car.Not so funny with my husband`s reaction to this though.This year I am going to try the igloo with straw idea and sit it up on a table by my back stairs where I keep the food and I like the tarp idea! Thanks again for all the valuable info!

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Suzette,

      Thanks for your kind words. Glad you enjoyed this Hub...and I'm thrilled you can take away some great tips and ideas for keeping your outdoor cats warmer this coming winter.

      Just an idea, but have you tried using baking soda on the very bottom of the litter box(es) to cut down on the odor? I've found this useful, plus it makes it a bit easier to clean up than just plain litter stuff.

      Hope all goes well (and warmer) this winter.

    • profile image

      Joy 6 years ago

      I have had my cat for 1 1/2 yrs. Since the weather has been nice, he darts outside every chance he gets so we decided to have him be an indoor/outdoor cat. recently, he threw up a mouse in my house and that disgusted me. I have always had only indoor cats and this was difficult for me. So for the last month, we have been keeping his food, water and litter box in our garage. I have been keeping him in the garage at night with the door shut and leave it open during the day. He seems to be happy. He has a blanket he sleeps on every night. Being in the garage, do you think he will be warm enough in the winter? I don't think he'll be in the house anymore. Our other alternative is taking him to a shelter and I would prefer to keep him where he is famaliar and happy. He stays around the house and never wanders far at all. thanks!

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Joy,

      Depending upon where (location) you are in the world, the garage may or may not be a warm enough spot in winter. It certainly will cut out the wind, but it does and WILL get cold in a garage, especially during long, cold winter nights.

      Please consider putting a small igloo inside your garage. You could put some blankets in there, or a small sleeping bag. Your cat could then go into the igloo and burrow into the blankets & keep warm. You could also buy a Mysterious Purr Pad & put it in the igloo. I've tried this product myself & my outside cats love it. It keeps them warmer than blankets.

      Also - read the comments on this Hubpage (yes, I know there's lots of them by now). You'll get some other great suggestions for keeping your cat warm in your garage --- example: straw could be put into the igloo.

      There are some "facts of life" you need to be aware of. Cats are carnivores - they eat meat (just like most humans). For them, mice (and rats, voles, etc.) are prey to be eaten. It's a natural and a survival instinct. He could have thrown up the mouse for several reasons...one of which could have been the mouse was not in good health. Throwing it up is a good thing. If it had been slightly poisoned, and he didn't throw it up, he would have digested the poison and this would have made him sick or possibly worse.

      Please consider ALL your options regarding your wonderful male cat. You've had him a while, you care for him & he cares for you. Please consider taking him in as an inside-ONLY cat, or having him adapt to being an outside only cat. As a next-to-last resort, see if any friends or family can welcome into their homes. PLEASE - a shelter should be only a major & last resort.

      Hope all this helps.

    • profile image

      Susan Graham 6 years ago

      I just saw your web site on aol its an incredible web page you have done an excellent article.

    • profile image

      Bea 6 years ago

      Had to leave a comment for Joy. Joy, I echo the advice given to you by Jean. Please do not take your beloved Kitty to the shelter. With over crowding being a major issue these days, he could be put down within 24 hours. Certainly something undeserved.

      Also, Jean is right on about him throwing-up the mouse. His body had him do the right thing .... for whatever the reason - Like, the mouse could have been sick, but no matter the reason, there is no reason for you to think that anytime your beloved Kitty comes into the house, he will throw-up.

      Another thing for you to copnsider:

      Taking a cat away from thier enviroment- (shelter) is just as tramatic to them as it would be to a child, should someone suddenly take a child from their home and then dump them off in a strange place with strange people ... Not to mention the fact that they are stuck into a cage.

      If your Kitty likes being in the garage during the spring, summer and fall months, did I think it is just fine ... BUT, please either bring your kitty indoors for the winter (the perfect and most humane solution) or get him a cat igloo and fill iot with straw and place it in the garage. The garage will be cold in the dead of winter, however, and his water will freeze, as well. You will need a heated bowl for the winter months.

      I hope you will consider the easier route and simply allow him to be an indoor kitty in the winter months.

      He loves you to pieces and depends on you for his every comfort and I hope that your love for him will always shine through .... even when a little upset tummy one time brings the unexpected.

      Best to you and to your Kitty.

      Bea

    • profile image

      Zasha 6 years ago

      Has anyone mentioned the styrofoam containers used to ship frozen meats as a perfect shelter. They are free if you ask restaurants and places like Murray Meats, etc. They come in different sizes, some good for 1 cat, some for 2 or 3 snuggled cats. They have thick walls and tight fitting lids, very insulated.

      I cut a small cat size hole in one end or side about mid point up or higher. Then I put in a thick layer of straw, put on the lid and you have a great shelter. If the box will be out in the elements, or you need a color other than white, encase it in a contractors trash bag or wrap in a mylar blanket. To keep them from moving put a couple of heavy concrete paving blocks on top. You could also hammer in stakes on four sides to keep it from shifting. I put mine on a thick layer of stone to keep the area dry.

      My feral colony use these year round. I change the straw just before winter sets in and again in early spring. The cats seem to prefer the straw over towels and such which get wet. The straw wicks away the moisture when they come in out of the rain or snow.

      Hope this helps.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Susan Graham -

      So glad to hear you found this Hubpage & liked it (and hope it was helpful to you). Thanks for your kind words.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Bea & Zasha,

      I appreciate both of your well thought out comments - THANKS.

      Bea makes some very good arguments for NOT taking a cat to a shelter, as well as giving some great "food for thought" about cats in garages during the coldest of winter months.

      Zasha has excellent ideas for using styrofoam as a winter shelter & the use of straw as a wonderful insulator. Zasha, there have been mentions about styrofoam (shelters & insulation), but so many folks have made comments (about all sorts of things), it's sometimes hard to find them.

      Besides, it's always good to hear that more than one person uses a particular way of keeping their cats warm in winter. It helps all of us make a more informed & better decision regarding our own beloved companions.

    • profile image

      Tim 6 years ago

      Well I am not really a cat person but care about animals in general. Last year a stray cat showed up in my yard and I started feeding him. Then a female cat started showing up and of course now I have two kittens. I plan on trapping all of them and getting them fixed. I am worried about the kittens the most staying warm this winter. The male (most likely father) found a way to stay warm last winter and it was an unusually cold winter here in Tennessee. I plan on trying to get them to use a large plastic container with straw in it but I also plan on just installing maybe a 40 watt light bulb in there. My father did this for our outside dog when I was a kid and I can remember that the doghouse stayed very warm in very cold temperatures. I would suggest to anyone that if they can get over the hump and get a cat to enter your shelter, that a light bulb in a plain old light socket will keep the shelter very warm. I just hope I can get these cats to use the shelter when I set it up.

    • profile image

      Bea 6 years ago

      Hi Tim,

      Wow, you are doing a wonderful thing for these kitties and especially when, as you say, you are not a cat-person. I salute you for your love of animals, regardless of whether or not they are your first choice as a pet.

      I don't know what resoures you have there, but where I live I can go to our local pound and by putting down a "holding" deposit, I can check-out a "have-a-heart-trap". I have caught over 23 cats in the last 10 years by using this type of trap. Thankfully, after catching them, I have also been able to get these kitties fixed and than adopted out (those that were not too feral to be pets). Of course, I have kept a few - 4 in my barn (which has a cat door) and two of my own in the house.

      Anyway, whenever I was ready to catch one, I took all the food away the day before. Then, I would place a bit of wet food on a very tiny piece of paper plate into the back of the trap. It does not take long to catch them this way when they are hungry.

      Another thing that has helped is a local Vet office that agreed that I could bring in kitties to be fixed anytime they are open, as long I bring them in to the office first thing in the morning (around 7:30AM). No appointment necessary. Most Vet offices will help with this problem, I have found, but it does pay to find the one that is least expensive.

      Although, it has at times felt quite a bit overwhelming, not to mention an ecomomical drain, I can tell you that what you are doing for these 4 kitties (I call them "brats") will, I believe, be "paid forward" to you in some way. Surely, you will know that you did your part ... and you will have kept, just from 4 kitties fixed, thousands of other homeless kitties from being born.

      Again, I salute you!

    • profile image

      Bea 6 years ago

      PS. Tim, the light bulb idea that you shared is brilliant!

    • profile image

      Tim 6 years ago

      Thanks Bea! Those are some great ideas. I may just buy a live trap. They have a large one at Home Depot that should do fine. It sure sounds like it is easy to catch them since you have caught so many of them. I will definitely do the thing about keeping the food away from them the day before. These are wild cats and I would really like to pet the kittens but they won't let me get close to them yet.

      I did get the adult male to come to me with lots of patience and now he is pretty lovable but he claws and bites at me for no reason sometimes. I'm not too worried about him since he found a place to stay the past cold winter but I just don't know if the kittens have found a place yet.

      Yes the light bulb really does a good job and uses minimal electricity. My father had mounted it on the inside ceiling of the doghouse and was no danger to the dog. He also mounted it to a tin pan that I assume helped reflect the heat. It sure did work good. Of course a piece of carpet or something for a door is the best way to keep the heat in and keep the door closed.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Tim,

      I have to agree with Bea - you're doing a great job, especially since you claim you're not "a cat person"...sounds like you're a cat person to me! The cats that have found their way into your life are very lucky indeed.

      Tim - know that cats (males especially) will occasionally claw and/or bite if they get too over stimulated. This could occur if they are petted or stroked a bit too much. Can't explain exactly why this happens, I just know from years of experience, it just sometimes happens.

      Hunger is a strong motivator, so I definitely agree with Bea - that's a good way to trap/neuter/release feral cats. Also, I know from experience, it will take quite a bit of patience with the kittens, but over time, most if not all, of the kittens should be able to be socialized. Every now & then, you might find a kitten or two from feral parents who can't/won't be socialized, but it's rare if you are patient and loving.

    • profile image

      Rob 6 years ago

      is it wrong to move my indoor cat outside and make him sleep in the garage? He's been peeing and poopin all around the house and i can't stand it. i've had him for 15 years. He and i have a great relationship. I feel bad i moved him to the garage but is that a bad thing?

    • profile image

      Tracy 6 years ago

      I have two cats I put on my screen in porch and worried about the cold weather. What do you think about the heated cat house? How about Hay in a box? Just looking for more ideas. Thanks

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Rob,

      First of all, I highly recommend you take your cat to the vet very soon, and see if there's any physical reason he might be going outside his litter box. Since he's a much older cat, many times our "senior citizens" of the feline world have some physical reason that causes them to go to the bathroom outside of their litter boxes (when normally they would not).

      After you make sure there's nothing physically wrong with your cat, you then need to see if there's anything that's changed in your life recently. Cats - especially older cats are NOT fond of change. For example: have you reduced the time you spend with him? Have you changed jobs? Gotten or lost your job? Have you changed your cat's food or litter? These and many other factors might be the reason for your cat not using his litter box (or it may be a combination of some and/or all of the above).

      Since I don't have enough information, I really cannot give you a full comment on your circumstances. I will say though, that moving him to the garage without considering what I've said above is a bit harsh & cruel. Your cat won't understand why he's been banished to the garage, especially if there's a physical reason he's not using his litter box.

      Since you've both been with each other for 15 years, please take him to your vet and have him fully examined. Talk with your vet and get his/her advice on the matter. There are plenty of options to look into before banishing your companion to the garage.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Tracy,

      Choosing the option that's best for keeping your cats warm in the winter is dependent on several factors. Where in the world do you live? How cold does it get in the winter? How windy does it get?...AND is there anything breaking the wind from blowing across your porch area? (like trees, shrubs, bushes in front or around the porch area)

      Other factors would include - are there any budgetary considerations or limitations?

      A heated cat house would be very good, but remember there are costs beyond the initial purchase (like how much would it cost to heat the house per month?) You might want to look into an insulated shelter/house on your porch with STRAW in it.

      If you want to look into the Straw option - please look at the comments above...check out Bea's great comments & explanation of Straw as insulation which she posted approximately 5 weeks ago. Her comments are detailed, but to the point.

      Hope this helps keep your cats warm this winter & every winter from now on.

    • profile image

      beachgirl 6 years ago

      Here's what I do for my outside semi-feral kitties. I have a solid patio set on my patio outside my kitchen window. In the fall, I push all the chairs under the table, push the table as close to my house as i can to protect againt the wind. On a chair or two, I place thick newspaper, then a chair pad, or kitty bed, or soft warm blanket, they love fleese. I also use a kitty warmer pad when it's really cold pluged into my outside outlet. This keeps them up off the pavers. Try to make the bed secure so it doesn't slid off the chair, Play around with it. I then drape foil covered type insulation {bought at home depot, etc; over the top of the table. then, for extra warmth, I place extra foam panels on top of this, cut to size. Also bought at home depot. They are very cheap. Over this, I put on top of the table, my waterproof patio table cover, I actually use two.

      Raise one end, for them to go in and out. In the winter, or rainy days, just put there food under the table.

      I have never had a cat not love this shelter, It's their own little insulated tent right near your back door. On bitter cold mornings, as soon as my backdoor opens, they pop their little heads out and they feel warm to the touch. Good Luck and bless all of you who help protect these helpless creatures.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Beachgirl,

      Thanks for your wonderful suggestion for keeping cats warm on your patio/porch. It's very helpful for all of us when you give specifics on exactly what you do & how you do it, so if we choose to do the same thing, we'll know what to do to get similar results.

      This is a great way to take care of your outside cats when on a limited budget.

    • profile image

      A.R.I 6 years ago

      please i need help with my kitten's issue, and i have noone that really cares to address to.i found him in the street, abandoned, and having nowhere to keep him, i gave him to my cousins.the thing is, they have another big male cat that absolutely dislikes the little one.so they keep my kitty in the basement, which is a locked room with no light at all, even during the day.im so sad for him, i mean, he only gets to see the world when i visit him, which is about twice a week :( he stays locked in the dark all the time, and i don't know what to do.if i let him out, im afraid the big cat or any intruder will harm him badly.there are also other problems.many people come and go in my cousins yard, and they may steal him, or kick him...now that winter is coming, i really don't know what to do.its not fair and humane to keep pets locked all their lives in a small, unlightened place.in the other hand, thats for his own good...please help me, what should i do???

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      A.R.I.

      Oh wow - that's a huge challenge you have there. First of all, good for you for caring enough about the kitten & for visiting him & for wanting the best possible life for him.

      While I can see where your cousin is coming from (his adult male cat doesn't like the kitten)...your cousin needs to understand that almost every time, when a kitten comes into a household, there's going to be a rocky start (hissing and spiting at the "interloper" kitten that came into his territory). Each cat/kitten must establish a pecking order - who's the top cat and so on. This takes some time, but once it's done, the house can go into what will become the new "normal."

      That being said - keeping the kitten in a locked room with NO light and nothing to help while away the hours of the day is NOT good for the kitten. Kittens need companionship, need fresh water, fresh food and toys to play with (preferably another cat to play with). Keeping the other, adult male cat away from harming the kitten is good, but that's the ONLY good I can see in what you've described to me. Since I don't know all the details, it's wrong for me to judge what's going on.

      All I can say (besides what I've already said above) is you might want to ask around - talk with your other family members, your friends, anyone else you can think of...and see if they might be interested in this kitten so they can give this kitten a good home & good life. He needs a home where he can grow up into an adult cat where he's loved, wanted and has plenty of room to play, sleep, eat that has warmth in the winter, cool in the summer, plenty of light in the daytime & humans that truly care and love him and take him to the vet when needed. These are the bare basics the kitten needs.

    • profile image

      Lisa Banik 6 years ago

      Just wanted to let people know that they should use straw as bedding for outdoor cat shelters. Fabric retains moisture and is actually worse than nothing.Please read Alleycat Allies,or other feral cat orgs. websites for this and more useful tips. Good luck to everyone!

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Lisa,

      Very good comment, I couldn't agree with you more...however, if you had looked above at many of the great comments on this Hubpage, you would have seen that several of the folks who visited before you, have already pointed out that Straw is a great insulator & keeps cats warm in winter.

      I agree with you, the places you mention on the web are very good resources. However, I'd recommend - if you want some excellent ideas using straw and other great tips, just browse through the comments on my Hubpage above.

    • profile image

      A.R.I 6 years ago

      Jean Nash,

      Thank you for your time and response.I'll try asking my friends if they are interested in this kitty, though i doubt it.Where i come from animals are often viewed as dirty worthless things that you can harm whenever you want, and this is a mentality i struggle a lot with.However, if i dont find anyone who wants Mau(thats his name, and no, im not asian lol :D), fine, I'll take him.It'll be hard to keep him hidden from my family, but my room and balcony will be better than the basement... :)At least ill keep him for a couple months till he grows up a little, and then turn him back in my cousins'.

      Thank you again, sincerely

      A.R.I

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      A.R.I.

      You're welcome, although it's sad to hear that there are still places & people who perceive animals as no more than things. How much could they gain in their lives if they only opened up their minds just a bit? Perhaps, over time, by seeing your example, they just might learn a thing or two.

      Be aware though, cats and especially kittens bond quickly to their caretakers. After a short while, Mau will have bonded with you. It might be very hard for him to adapt to being without you should you decide to take care of him and then "suddenly" give him back to your cousins. I strongly suggest you find Mau a home...a forever home. That way, he'll be free to bond to his human companions without having to turn around and have them taken away from him. Moving homes is tramatic for cats. Please take this into account when your doing your search for a good home for Mau.

      My thoughts & prayers go with you as you find Mau a good home. Best of all things for you & Mau.

      Warmest regards,

      Jean

    • profile image

      Fletcher 6 years ago

      My girl friend and I adopted a stray cat from a local fast food place. The employees said to take it as it was dangerious there for it.

      I build a little house out of 2x4's and wall board. It has 4 walls, roof & is off the ground 10". I added a door to it after we realized that Grally (thats the cats name) won't use the shelter at night and gets our neighbors dogs barking at night, or her and the back neighbors cat get into yelling fights in the middle of the night instead of staying safe in shelter. There's also been other feral animals in the area so the door keeps her safe.

      It gets cold in the winter here in the state of Indiana and I'm not sure how cold is too cold for cats.. I read they can stay in hotter tempratures then humans but didn't say anything about how cold is too cold. - Still working on adding insulation as it gets colder so..

      How to get a cat to use shelter? - keep feeding it and closing the door at night? Does this seem reasonable?

      Best insulation to use? I have some foam to attach to the walls & a bed. I see we may get some straw based on advice on this site. My girl friend uses these little heat packets that get warm when you rub them. Is there anything else I can do without using power?

      Thanks Fletcher

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Fletcher,

      Good for you for adopting that stray cat! As far as I'm aware, it gets very cold in Indiana...too cold for a cat to be outside without any shelter, that's for sure.

      Since you mentioned "without using power" I can assume you must be on a limited budget. That being said, here are some ideas that may help you.

      1. Yes, use Straw. It's a great insulator. There are some excellent ideas above in my Hubpage comments section.

      2. Some other products you might want to look into are: Snugglesafe - which is a pad you heat in the microwave & place inside the shelter. This stays warm for several hours. Recommend you get two, that way you can have one heated pad inside the shelter at night, and then zap another one for the morning and exchange the warm, just zapped pad for the cooler one. That way, the cat can have the newly warmed Snugglesafe pad during cold winter mornings. The only power usage is the microwave to heat it up.

      The next product is the Mysterious Purr Padd. This helps reflect the cat's heat back to the cat when they lay on it. No power usage at all. Place the Mysterious Purr Padd inside the shelter.

      You can get these products at Amazon.com Both products have been "tested" on real cats & most cats seem to love them. Just be aware, there are always exceptions, and there might be a cat or two out there that might not like these products.

      Hope this helps.

    • profile image

      Bridget 6 years ago

      A.R.I,

      Any two cats will not get along at first. Cats won't like each other unless they have a reason to. I have a cat who showed up at my door one day. He sat on the porch looking in while my two cats hissed and growled and beat each other up becasue they couldn't get to the stranger. Well, we ended up bring the stray in. He lived in the basement for several weeks while we went through the steps of introducing him. Basically, you want to give the big cat a reason to like the kitten. Have them exchange scents. Put a sock on your hand and pet the living daylights out of the big cat then give the sock to the little cat then use a different sock to pet the little one and give it to the big one. This way, they get used to each other's smells in a non-threatening way. Then let them see each other at a distance while they get some super tasty treat that they ordinarily don't get. This gives them a reason to like each other. Keep that up and see if the big cat deosn't get more used to the small one. I wouldn't call all of my cats friends, but after introducing the stray this way, they manage to live peacefully. Here's a website that talks about this in more detail: http://maxshouse.com/introducing_cats.htm

      If you can get the cats to accept each other, maybe your cousins will let the kitten roam the house. In the meanwhile, can you get a lamp down in the basement and some toys for the kitten? Do your cousins play with the kitten at all when you're not around?

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Bridget,

      Excellent commments! Outstanding advice for introducing cats to each other. Thanks for providing such a straight to the point, yet detailed explanation. Also, thanks for providing a link to a very good resource so if anyone wants more info, they can get it.

    • profile image

      mikayla  6 years ago

      I have 2 stray cats. My mom doesnt like cats though so I have to keep them outside. and now that i know how to keep baby and furs ( friendly)warm thought out the winter they

      are cute and they always run to me because they know im warm

      also if u switch back and forth on days from outside and inside but im only aloud to bring one in at a time and keep them in for at least one hour each but they love to be warmed up then it is cold

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Mikayla,

      So glad you are trying to keep the stray cats warm during the winter. Please read this whole Hub to get more ideas on how to keep your cats warm. But, before you do anything else, please check with your Mom & see if it's O.K. with her first. You might even want to see if she'd like to read this Hubpage herself.

    • profile image

      Linda Ryznar 6 years ago

      I found your site while doing a search on keeping outdoor cats warm during the winter months. Although I haven't read all of the posts yet, I'm working my way through them. Since my husband is adamant about not using an electric heating pad, I've been looking for other alternatives for three feral cats that I trapped, neutered, and released. I am now feeding them and trying to provide a shelter, especially for the winter months. My anxiety has increased as the weather turns colder. I have worried and cried at times over what to do. I’ve really needed someone to talk with. My husband tries, but is not as emotionally involved as I am.

      However, we are currently trying to give the cats many housing options, but like they say, "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink." After trying to help these cats, I totally understand what that phrase means. We've modified several structures to provide shelter. They are all lined with polystyrene sheets that are covered in a reflective metallic surface that reflects some of the cat’s warmth. Some of them have larger spaces and some are smaller spaces. (By the way, the polystyrene is not toxic, however, it is flammable.)

      In addition, we purchased an igloo with a pad. All of these structures have straw in them. I just haven't known how much straw to use. When I read the post about straw vs hay, I was surprised at how much I should be using inside the shelters.

      In an effort to keep the cats warm in the shelters, I've been doing lots of research. I found a product called Snugglesafe, and it requires no electricty. So far I've found no posts that refer to using the Snugglesafe heat pad to add warmth to a pet's bedding. Since I haven't read everything yet, maybe I just haven't found a post on it.

      The Snugglesafe is made in the UK and imported to the US. It is easy to find it on the internet. The good thing about this heat source is that it can last up to 10-12 hour depending on how cold it is. It also needs no electricity, but is heated in the microwave. The pad comes with a cover and can be used under blankets or with just the heat pad cover. The major thing that many people object to is that it is a hard plastic surface. I have outdoor ferals that nap in concrete drainage ditches, the deck, dirt, or whatever is handy. For the most part, they are probably used to hard surfaces because most often they don't have a choice. (FYI: It does break my heart to see them lying on these hard surfaces.) However, I've found that if I put out any type of blanket or fabrics for them to sleep with, it gets peed on.

      I think that for the benefit of some additional heat on cold nights, the Snugglesafe heat pad is worth a try. It is about $28 on Amazon, and it comes with a cover. My husband thought that was a lot of money, but I’ve had so much anxiety about keeping them warm, it was worth it to me. In fact, I bought several.

      I've only had the head pads for a few days. When the temp was in the high 40's to low 50's, I found there was still a bit of warmth left in the pad the following morning. However, last night was in the low 40's to upper 30's and the pads were cold this morning. I put them out at 9 pm at night. If I did it later, they might last a bit longer. When the pad cools down, it feels cool, even through the cover.

      I am glad that I found this source for sharing info on helping outdoor cats with shelter.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Linda Ryznar,

      I'm so glad you found my Hub & for your kind words - thank you. You certainly have your work cut out for you, with your husband not fully feeling the same way you do about taking care of the cats. Kudos to you for trying to do what you can to help the 3 feral cats - especially for trapping, neutering & releasing them and then caring enough to make sure they're fed & warm during the winter!

      You mentioned SnuggleSafe - the comments about that product are closer to the top of the "comment section" of this Hub. Look for comments from Eileen & Stephanie approximately 22 months ago. Unfortunately, there are no dates on the comments, so you'll have to go by the fact that today is Nov. 9, 2010 and then take things from there.

      SnuggleSafe is a very good product. I've also had success with a product called the Mysterious Purr Padd. There's no electricity usage with either product. However, you might find the cats may or may not pee on this product, since you mentioned they have a tendency to pee on whatever blanket or fabric you put out for them. Remember, cats are territorial creatures, so the peeing is probably a way for them to further "scent" the blankets so everyone knows it's "theirs."

      The best thing just might be the proper amount of straw in the shelters if the cats insist on peeing on any fabric.

      Best of luck...hope all goes well for you & the cats this winter.

    • profile image

      Noelle 6 years ago

      Hi. I was searching "how to keep you cat warm" and found your site. I am SOOOOOO excited about trying some of the things Ive been reading. Thanks for all the great info!

    • profile image

      Bridget 6 years ago

      Just out of curiosity, has anyone tried using Feliway as a way to make the shelters more attractive to cats? (It's a synthetic pheremone that simulates the scent a cat would leave behind after rubbing up on a surface with their face.) It's kind of pricey so I was wondering if anyone else had had success.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Bridget,

      I haven't tried Feliway on outside shelters (have used it for other purposes with good success)...however, that's a good idea. Would be very interested to hear from anyone who's tried this idea - let us know! Thanks.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Noelle,

      You're certainly welcome. Glad you've found this Hub helpful!

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Betty,

      You're certainly welcome - I appreciate your kind words.

      Thank you for providing such a great resource link, I've looked at the site you gave & it has some awesome suggestions & they don't hit a budget too hard, either. Kudos for giving us all that link!

    • profile image

      A.R.I 6 years ago

      Bridget,

      Thank you very much for your advice, maybe I will try it if i need to in the next months.Right now I'm keeping the kitty in my house, in my room to be exact, because my parents don't like animals.Anyways, he's growing into a very cute fluffy cat, I love him so much and feed him regularly.Now I'm planning on vaccinating him...The only problem I have for the moment is the necessity to teach him "manners", so that he doesn't pee or anything like that in my room.It's a challenge, to be honest, but I think I'll make it :DD...Maybe in the future I'll get Mau the kitty back to my cousins, because I will no longer live in my home, and he's not very welcomed if I'm not here lol.So, I find your words very useful :))

      Thank you again,

      A.R.I

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      A.R.I

      It's good you are taking care of Mau & are going to get him vaccinated - this is very important to do. There's a suggestion I have for helping Mau mind his "manners".

      A mother cat will gently tap a kitten's nose when they behave in an unacceptable manner. I've found that if I gently tap a kitten's nose, and say firmly "no" whenever I find a kitten doing something not acceptable - this helps eliminate the "bad" behavior (the stuff I don't want the kitten to do). Also, I've found if, at the same time, reinforce the positive behavior (the stuff I WANT the kitten to do) - this will help the kitten understand not only what is & is not acceptable behavior, but lets the kitten know it's the behavior I disapprove of and NOT that I disapprove of the kitten.

      Another important point I want to make - PLEASE remember, just as you have started to bond with Mau & love him -- Mau is bonding with you and loves you too. Mau is very attached to you now & should you suddenly give him over to your cousins, this will be extremely traumatic for him & will be a very difficult transition for him to make (having to live with your cousins).

      Mau needs a forever home...a home where is he loved, well taken care of, and feels safe.

    • profile image

      Larry Stark 6 years ago

      You say to have cat enclosure up off the ground like on a palleyt but I always figured it would be warmer on ground with bedding inside because if it was up the cold air and wind would get under it like when bridges ice over when wet because of cold air under it!!

    • profile image

      Marilyn1956 6 years ago

      I have a small doghouse which I put up on a table on our semi-enclosed patio. It's facing away from the wind. I was concerned that it wasn't going to be warm enough for the kitty who meows at our door for food. I do feed and give him water. It is pitiful crying and he's heartbreakingly beautiful. I think his folks are away at times and leave him to fend for himself. Today I found a "KittyCube" at Walmart. I put it into the doghouse and sure enough, it fit. Kitty can climb right into the hole in front. It has padding all around it and the base is also thickly padded with a fleecy place to lay. This should be warm without heat, I hope!

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Larry Stark,

      Yes, I (and others) say to have the enclosure up off the ground. You are correct about the fact that IF the enclosure is off the ground AND air can get under it -- then, yes, it could be harder to keep cats warm inside the shelter.

      HOWEVER - the reason for keeping the enclosure up is mainly due to cold and/or wet & damp seeping up through the bottom of the enclosure. Keeping the enclosure elevated is good. You ALSO need to have something around the bottom between the enclosure and the ground so the air does NOT blow through & make it harder to keep cats warm inside the shelter.

      Hope this makes things a bit clearer for you. You might want to take a look through all the above comments on my Hub. There are some really great ideas & suggestions that are explained very well & with more than enough detail for anyone to follow and be sure of keeping their cat companions warm throughout the winter.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Marilyn1956,

      Good for you for taking care of the male kitty even though he's not "yours." Feeding & watering him is great - this will help him keep warm & keep illness at bay. Also, good for you for caring enough to want to protect him from the cold of winter.

      You might want to do what I just suggested to several readers, and that's to look through the comments on this Hub. While I know there's LOTS of comments to go thru, many of the comments & my replies have some very good ideas you might want to try in your particular situation.

      An example of this is - straw is one of the best insulators. You might want to put some straw in-between the bottom of the kitty cube & the doghouse floor.

      Take a look & see what all the comments say. I've no doubt you'll find a few ideas that will be excellent additions for you to do to keep the male kitty warm throughout the winter.

    • profile image

      Marilyn1956 6 years ago

      I'll look for straw locally. Hope I can buy a small amount. Thanks Jean.

      Marilyn

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Marilyn1956,

      You're welcome. I don't know where you live, but I live way out in the country (VERY rural county), so there are lots of farmers I can get in touch with about buying straw. You might want to check around & see if maybe anyone you know, might have a contact person. That way, you might be able to buy just a bale or so of straw. Also, the local churches might have done some Halloween activities & used straw for hay rides or Halloween displays...you might want to check with them and see where they purchased their straw bales. Just some thoughts that might help you.

    • profile image

      Bea 6 years ago

      Hi again,

      Just a note about providing a "door", so to speak, to any outdoor kitty enclosure:

      Regardless of what type of shelter you provide, it is very important to keep the warmth in and the cold out, as much as possible. Well, I think I found the most purrfect door for my own kitties' igloos, even though the igloos are also inside a barn ...

      Vinyl cloth, like you would buy to cover a table ....or a chair if you couldn't afford leather. LOL.

      Anyway, you can buy it at any fabric store. It takes very little to cover the opening of the biggest igloo opening, so, hopefully, it should fit into the leanest of budgets. I simply duct-tape a band of the vinly over the top ledge of the igloo and then with scissors cut 2-inch wide strips of the vinly from the bottom of the door opening to the top of the band. This now makes a cool doorway (kinda like so hippie days when some folks used beads in doorways). I will sometimes double up on the vinly just to make the igloos even more insulated.

      Now, there is a bonus to this; besides keeping the warmth in by keeping the cold air out, your kitty, if like most kitties, will LOVE the fact that it will feel like it is hidden. Like, it can see out, but figures no one else can see in.

      Now, because my igloos are inside, I could have cut up some old towels as doors, and, in fact, have done so in the past. Using vinyl now, however, as it tends to stay dry and seems more insulating.

      Hope this helps.

      AND a very belated THANK YOU(!) to Jean for providing all of us with this very useful site. Her comments, filled with good advice and much compassion, are always right on target.

      3 zillion cheers to Jean Nash!

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Bea,

      Ooh -- I really like your ideas about the vinyl for a shelter door cover. You're correct, this should fit into any size of budget, no matter how lean it might be.

      Thank you SO MUCH, for your very kind words & input. I am passionate about animals (cats in particular, no surprise, of course). Writing Hubs - It's such a pleasure for me to help folks, plus it's a wonderful way to have a forum of sorts to gather ideas in one place so those who need the info can benefit from it. I've learned so much from so many people's comments & suggestions on my Hub - THANKS to all who's contributed so far. I'm looking forward to seeing what great ideas will appear in the future.

    • profile image

      Diana 6 years ago

      Jean, you're and angel!

      We recently moved to the country where we absolutely love it. It's our first winter here - we're in Manitoba and get the coldest of cold. I'm astounded by the number of unkept cats around here - all little lost boys and girls. One in particular has chosen our back door for refuge but for now my choice is not to keep a cat in the house. I've browsed through the above thoughts on helping outdoor cats survive through winter and have made what I think is a suitable bed. I used an old Coleman cooler (I had 3!) - what insulates better than that! I cut a hole for entry, and lined it with a fleece blanket using a glue gun. It stands upside down, and it will be easy to intermittently open it up to check the heating pad on low inside an old pillow. I put it under our deck - the spot the cat chose initially because as well as being very protected it is also right by the return air outlet from the basement. I'll follow your feeding tips and hopefully pussy will keep warm in the cooler!

      Thanks for the thread :)

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Diana,

      Thanks for the compliment. (However, I'm just a animal-lover & want to help folks - so if I've got info that can help, I try & share it.)

      Good for you for taking care of those who've been abandoned, thrown out, etc. Glad to know those felines in Manitoba have an advocate. Check out the rest of my Hub - you should find some great ideas & suggestions that should make your life easier & the cat(s) lives warmer this winter (and hopefully for many winters to come).

    • profile image

      Elisabeth 6 years ago

      Thanks for all of the great info on this hub. I found it trying to figure out the best outdoor home for a cat in Michigan winters. I'm torn at the moment on what to do with my cat, and putting her outside is the best option I have. Story:

      My cat is 11 years old. She was a wild cat when we got her. Over the last 11 years there have been short periods when she was able to go outside. We were living with my parents and they have indoor/outdoor cats. She greatly enjoyed being outside, but was able to come in at night. The problem is this: She has hit her max stress level and is peeing on everything. Now peeing on things is not new. She has done it most of her life. She gets mad about the litter (which is cleaned almost every day), and gets mad about her food bowl being empty, and mad about our dogs. We've had her tested many times for UTI, and it's always come back negative. I've just finally had it when we discovered that she's been peeing in my children's toy room, and on their clothing. I don't want to give her away, so I see her going outside as the only option. Any advice would be great.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Elisabeth,

      I can certainly empathize with you...I've had both inside, domesticated cats as well as outside, feral cats & most everything in-between. You've certainly described a major challenge with a feral cat that's been domesticated (mostly) and is older & stressed.

      Domesticated former ferals do present some challenges for their human companions. Since you don't mention what the stressor or stressors are in her life at the moment, I can't speak in specifics, but will do what I can in recommendations.

      At 11 yrs. old - she's definitely considered a "senior" cat & she's most likely set in her ways. It would help to know WHY you say she's stressed to the max, but here are some ideas.

      If you insist on her going outside - please consider her becoming an inside/outside cat. Outside during the day (when it's a bit warmer in winter) and bringing her inside at night. Perhaps you have a basement or room she can sleep in, have a litter box & toys & food, etc. This way, she can consider it, "her" room but it limits where she is & you have some control over her and her usage of the litter box. (especially if the room only has tile or linoleum as opposed to carpet) You can then keep her in this room at night & let her out again in the morning. If you don't have a basement or room like this, perhaps you might want to consider a cat enclosure/cage where you can isolate her (before you go to bed at night) with food, water, small litter box & small sleeping pad - and then let her out first thing in the morning. That way, she has all the basics she needs, but the dogs can't get at her.

      Another thing to consider - using aromatherapy (of sorts). There's a product which uses pheremones. This product helps calm a very stressed cat and is basically a behavior modification type of product. The first manufacturer I saw producing this type of product was: Feliway, and the product's called "Comfort Zone." (It seemed to work well on the couple of cats I used it with.) I do believe there are now a couple of manufacturers that make different products of this type - some use aromatherapy, some are in pill/tablet form, etc.

      Of course, I would also recommend you making sure there is no physical cause for her behavior. I'm aware of you saying she's been tested many times for UTI & always coming back with negative results, but I don't want this time to be the one exception & have her suffering unnecessarily.

      Hope this helps.

    • profile image

      Elisabeth 6 years ago

      Thanks for the info. We have two dogs, who stay on the main floor, and two kids who stress her out. Our son was just born 4 months ago and I think that was her breaking point. She always stays upstairs and is scared of everyone but me.

      We built a shelter and stuffed it full of straw. It's set up in our garage and we are keeping the door to the back yard cracked open for her. So far she's been fine. Not taking to the shelter yet, but found a couple comfortable places. I tried to see if she wanted to come in tonight and she didn't want to. In all I think she's happy and going to do well.

      Thanks again

    • profile image

      jon1973jon 6 years ago

      I built a box on my porch for a feral cat. It is elevated and I have a heating pad in it. I also included some hay/straw. It loves the little house. It's brother had FIV and we had to put him down although we did not plan on doing that. We took him in to get neutered and the test came back positive. It was very very sad.

      Do any of you know if we take his sister in can we just have the cat spayed with out testing? We don't want to put another cat down but we don't want her to have kittens again. She is 2 and already had one litter.

    • profile image

      Rachel 6 years ago

      How can you let you cat sleep outside? I cannot imagine ever allowing my cat to sleep in the cold. My heart breaks when I see cats wandering alone outside. I try to pick them up until I can find a home or a safe, indoor, healthy setting for them. Why even have a pet if you simply leave it outside?

    • profile image

      jon1973jon 6 years ago

      Rachel:

      Can you read and comprehend? It is a feral cat. It doesn't like humans(me, you, people). The cat will not come in the house. It has not been tested and could have FIV. I have an insulate box on my porch with a heating pad and straw and the cat gets food three times per day.

      Thanks for reading and comprehending.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Elizabeth,

      Sorry it took so long to get back to you this time - work changed my schedule (due to the holidays) & I had to work extra.

      Anyway, glad to know what the "stressors" are. You're correct about what was the last straw. Most of the time, there's a reason for why a cat does what it does & why it changes behavior(s). Cats don't like change (then again, neither do most humans).

      Good to hear she's settling down to a routine she is comfortable with. Once she sees she has options, she will most likely settle even more. As long as she gets reassurance from you that she'll still get food, water & shelter on a daily basis, she will be OK. After a while, she might even take you up on an invitation to come inside (especially on a very cold night).

      Good for you for making sure she's taken care of.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Jon1973jon,

      My condolences about having to put the brother cat down due to the positive results for FIV. It's always sad, especially for a young cat.

      As for the feral sister cat - here's some thoughts about her situation: It's important to have her spayed, you're so correct about her not having any more kittens.

      While I understand your reluctance to having her tested for FIV, that is certainly a judgment call on your part, and I'm sure you will make the best decision for both the cat and your individual circumstances.

      Don't know if your Vet told you or not, but here are some things about FIV - Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is also known as feline AIDS because it causes a depression of the immune system, just like AIDS in humans. Over time, the deterioration of the immune system to counteract other viruses & microorganisms in the environment leaves the cat susceptible to secondary infections. Such infections are the major cause of death in cats who are FIV-positive.

      The virus is in the same family as HIV, BUT it's DIFFERENT ENOUGH that it does NOT affect people. As far as anyone is aware, FIV is spread only through bite wounds (from fighting); therefore it's found more often in unneutered males & outside cats that roam.

      There are many different approaches to treating FIV in cats. The choice is ultimately up to you. My personal choice is a D.V.M. who is fully grounded in not only Western medicine, but in alternative medicine as well. A balance of both seems the best choice for me and my cats. You can search for a holistic Vet by going to: http://www.holisticvetlist.com/

      Also, the main home link for the American Holistic Veterinary Association is: http://www.ahvma.org/

      Hope all this helps.

      Please be aware, these links are NOT affiliate links. I get NO commissions, these links are directly to the people/organization(s), and there is no compensation to me for providing these links.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Rachel,

      You have a kind heart, and that is a good thing. However, you need to be aware of a few things. Maybe you haven't been around feral cats, or maybe there are other factors involved, but feral cats are definitely different than domesticated, inside cats.

      Feral, outside cats are not normally used to positive interactions with humans. This could be for several different reasons, unfortunately, some of those reasons could include abuse. This is a large topic of discussion, but let me leave things at this - feral cats may or may not ever get to the point of being friendly with humans. It depends on the love, and TONS of patience of the human taking care of the feral cat(s) as well as the individual feral cat in question.

      Feral cats have to exist outside, on their own. This is a harsh reality. Their lives are not easy, and as I've said before (above in my Hub), outside, feral cats do not live long. On average, 3-4 years.

    • profile image

      jon1973jon 6 years ago

      Jean Nash:

      Thank you for the information. She survived the night in the box I built for her. It is outfitted with an expensive heating pad and straw. She lets me pet her and I have introduced cat toys which she likes to play with.

      I would like to find someone to adopt her and take care of her. Any suggestions on places I can post pictures and make inquiries to see if anyone wants a sweet 2 year old semi-feral kitty? I even picked her up this morning and held her while I drank my coffee outside in 15 degree weather.

      She needs to be spayed but my vet wants to do the test first and I don't want to do the test.

      Oh well. Decisions decisions.

      Thanks again.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Jon1983jon,

      You're certainly welcome. Glad to hear she survived the cold winter's night & that she'll let you pet her.

      I understand your dilemma with testing her, but you have to give your Vet credit, he/she is following what they believe is best for the cat. As for suggestions, of course they include: family & friends. Check with any church group, and see if your vet will allow you to put up a picture & info on a bulletin board at their clinic. You might also want to check with other vets in your area - they may or may not be sympathetic (worse that could happen is they say "no").

      Make sure you ask lots of questions of the person/people who want to adopt her. You want her adopted, but by a person who will give her a good home, take care of her properly, etc.

    • profile image

      Marilyn1956 6 years ago

      Thanks to you, Jean I now have 2 cozy beds for the stray kitties, all insulated with straw (found it at a farmer's). Now I sleep much better knowing they have a warm hideaway.

      best to you,

      Marilyn

    • profile image

      Angela 6 years ago

      Really enjoy your blog as I care for 6 indoor kitties and 3 ferals. I would like to comment on the blanket issue. If you use a blanket, try to use a fleece as it will dry quickly. Towels and heavy cotton or wools will hold moisture and actually take heat from the kitties. They don't know better as they are only trying to escape the cold.

      This year I added an insulated shelter and added straw with light fleece blankets on top. I'm still waiting to see if there are any takers as the weather is beginning to take a turn for the worse. I'll keep you updated.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Marilyn1956,

      You're welcome. Good to hear the stray cats now have warm & cozy beds. Best to you, too!

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Angela,

      Glad you enjoy reading my Hub. Yes, you're absolutely right about the blankets & towels. They can hold moisture and if they do, they WILL take away heat from the cat(s).

      Straw is a great insulator. Keep me (and all of us) updated on what's going on with you & the cats.

    • profile image

      Nance 6 years ago

      Please use straw instead of blankets or towels, as straw is much safer and warmer.

      Blankets, towels, old clothes, etc., should not be used to lay on because cloth draws heat from the body (it is only good for covering up with, but never outdoors because it will freeze when wet).

      Cats and dogs have been found dead, frozen to cloth that became damp/wet and froze.

      Using straw, air pockets are created; cat's can dig down into it and make a comfy, warm place.

      Please never line a outdoor enclosure with blankets, towels, or any other cloth.

    • profile image

      Chelsie 6 years ago

      Hi, We have a field that we keep our horse on and we have a metal shed that we keep all the food etc in, so to keep the mice population down we have recently been given two kittens approx 6-7 months old... we have locked them in the shed to get them used to where they live. they have an igloo bed with a sheepskin pillow in there with them. they get plenty of food and water, but recently its been snowing and i cant help but worry about them. aparently its going to drop to about -20 next week!!! How else can i help them!!!

      Thanks

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Nance,

      Thanks for commenting & visiting this Hub.

      While I do welcome most of the comments, you might want to check out all of the comments on the Hubs before adding your own. (yes, I'm aware there are lots of comments, especially on this Hub!). The reason to check out all the other comments is that will reduce any duplicates.

      That being said - yes, Nance, you are correct about strongly suggesting the use of straw over blankets & towels.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Chelsie,

      It's so good to hear when folks want to make sure their animal companions are safe & warm during the winter months. Like I just said above, please check out the comments to this Hub. Many of my readers have some awesome suggestions for keeping cats warm in the winter.

      I suggest you make sure you add a thick layer of straw to the igloo bed, since straw is an outstanding insulator & will keep the kitties warm. Also, you might want to look into a heated water bowl (since it will be inside the metal shed). Make sure they have plenty of food & fresh water, of course.

      A very good comment from Betty (you have to scroll up a bit) is about winter shelters. If you don't want to scroll up to find it, here's the link for you to check out -

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

      They have more than one type of winter shelter, and provide a range of very affordable for any budget shelters...you can either build them, or there are even some you can get already partially built for you.

    • profile image

      robtempe 6 years ago

      To keep my outside cats and ferals warm I purchased several Rubbermaid 48-quart ice chests (which are already insulated. some also have a little drain hole at the bottom if water does get in). I bought a 6" round drill attachment to cut a hole (halfway up)on one end. For the inside I put some polyester pads (filter pads for hvac units). Polyester holds in the body heat and keeps the cats warm. Purr pads would work also. I do like the idea of straw as well and will be trying that out as I am having 2 bales delivered today. Make sure you tape the top of the chest to keep it from opening. I then place the units in a shed or under a covering to keep the elements from getting in. If this can't be under a covered area you may want to purchase 6" round tubing (plastic or pvc) at your hardware store and cut off a 4-6" piece that can be secured into the hole at the end. If you are able to cut it in half length-wise and secure it at the top of the hole that is best. (acts like a roof over the hole) This will keep the elements out yet still allow the animal access. Try to place it off the ground if you can. Cats prefer higher places. My cats have the option of coming into the heated garage or staying outside in one of these units. Half of them come in and the other half prefer these "cat chests." (I am a cat rescue person in Arizona.)

    • profile image

      Eric 6 years ago

      I just put out a shelter (sturdy box with hole cut in front) for my stray cat that has been coming around for a year and a half now. Last year I just had a cat bed on the back porch for it to lay on, but with the wind I wanted a shelter for it. I put the bed in the box, but the cat didn't go in and I'm afraid it won't use it and will try to find someplace else to sleep that won't protect it. Is there anything I can do to get him to use the shelter? It's gotten down to 30 at night here and it gets windy. Thanks!

      Eric

      Las Vegas

    • profile image

      Eric 6 years ago

      Never mind....he's in it now :)

      Eric

      Las Vegas

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      RobTempe,

      Thanks for writing about how you keep your cats warm in the wintertime. Major kudos to you for being a cat rescue person!

      As I've said many times on my comments here, you might want to check out all the other comments (yes, I'm aware there are alot of them). So many of my readers have left great suggestions (including those about straw).

      Keep up the wonderful work you do in rescuing cats...we SO need more people like you to do this important work!

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Eric,

      Sorry it took so long for me to get back to you...I have to work crazy hours.

      So glad to hear your cat is now using the shelter you've provided. You might want to check out the other shelter ideas left on this hub by my very supportive readers. I left another reader a link (a day or so ago) for some really good shelters, and they are very affordable, too. Just scroll up a bit & you should find it (if you want to get the info).

    • profile image

      amanda 6 years ago

      Hello. I have a stray that I cannot bring in. I've read many of your ideas but am I very low on cash. I puta blanket on top of a glass top patio table and put the umbrella up. Do u think this will keep her warm until I can find her a home? Any other suggestions for someone on a budget would be appreciated.

    • profile image

      nicurnc@aol.com 6 years ago

      Yes for short term you can use cardboard boxes with some straw or paper or rags...you can also cover the box with a garbage bag and tape it like a christmas present and then cut a 6" hole for the cat to go in and out. This is of course a short term fix and slot depends on weather.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Amanda,

      While nicurnc's comment is OK for someone who has no budget and as he/she says it's for the short term & depends on the weather.

      As you can see from reading most of the comments on this Hub - straw is an excellent insulator, but paper gets wet easily and rags will draw the heat from a cat should they get wet and will potentially freeze to the cat. I'd much rather you go to the following link.

      This link is from folks who deal with feral cats on a regular basis, and they give some excellent ideas for winter shelters that fit any budget -- especially budgets that are very limited. These are shelters that will keep a cat warm in winter in most locations.

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

    • profile image

      shine11311 6 years ago

      You can also use a cheep styrofoam igloo cooler turned upside down wit a hole cut in it for a place to sleep and stay warm.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Shine11311,

      Thanks for visiting & posting your comment. Yes, you're right, styrofoam can be a good insulator.

      You might want to look at some of the other comments here & some of the links. They provide some great & inexpensive ways of keeping your cat (or other animal companion) warm during the winter. There are many ways to keep them warm, depending on where in the world you live & how big (or little) your budget may be.

    • profile image

      Diana Lynn 6 years ago

      Hi, I have been reading all your amazing ideas. I have a cat who at one time was someones pet. he is declawed & fixed to. I started feeding him in the summer & now that the weather is cold i am worried about keeping him warm. i let the garage door up @ night enough for him to come in & have a van seat indide that I have put a quilt & a wollen sfgan for him to sleep on. I wondered it i took my home heating pad & put it under the quilt if it would be safe if I just turned it on at night when the cat is in the garage. I would love to have him live inside but am straped for funds to get him to a vet to get checked & get flea protection for him. i have a 5 yr old shih tzu & am scared if the cat has fleas , my dog would get them to & the house would be infested.

      I love in SC where the summers are very hot. Right now we are @ 33 degrees which is cool for us.

      I dont understand why the humane society would not help you with medical, shote, de worming & blood testing if you were going to take a stray in your home. he is so lovable & just talks to me all the time. My dog & him have come face to face several times so I think thay might tolerate each other.

      Any helpful hints you can supply would be wonderful & much appreciaated. thanks Diana

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Diana,

      Good for you for taking this abandoned cat into your life (and hopefully into your home). He definitely needs to be an inside cat due to his being declawed. There is no way for him to fully protect himself if he stayed an outside cat.

      I know you mentioned you are a bit low on funds at the moment...but if you find a bit of extra cash, you might want to consider using a product called Snugglesafe. You heat it up (like in a microwave) and it stays warm over several hours. You can also buy a cover for it. Cats love it & this should help keep him warmer in the garage. If you buy two, then you could have him use one at night, then in the morning you can heat up the other one and exchange them - so he will have warmth during the daytime.

      If you are still strapped for funds, you can use the heating pad, just make sure the cord and everything is in good shape and working order.

      Another idea for you - if you're worried about fleas & have limited funds, you might try adding some Brewer's Yeast with Garlic to his food. You can get tablets or powder at WalMart very inexpensively. If you get the tablets you can crush them up into powder & add it to his food. Normally cats DO like Brewer's Yeast with Garlic, but every now & again you come across a cat that doesn't care for the taste. Anyway, the best solution is to put it into food that has a strong flavor (like tuna or salmon). The Brewer's Yeast with Garlic makes an animal's skin taste terrible to the fleas & they leave the animal alone. Also, it helps keep your animals healthier (yes, it's good for dogs too).

    • profile image

      diana Lynn 6 years ago

      Awww, thanks for the fast reply, your great.

      i have never had a cat before but this one is so lovable i can not resist.

      i will go to walmart tomorrow & look for the brewers yeast w/ garlic & do that until i can get the flea meds.

      another thing i would like to know is how many times a day do you think i should feed him? he seems to have a good appetite but i find him throwing up his food once in awhile. A friend of mine said it might be he is eating it to quickly. I have to keep the garage door open a little all night also because when i close it all the way he seems to panic & crys.

      my groomer came over & gave him a shot & also dewormed him a few weeks ago free of charge for me which i thought was so nice of her.

      i feed him, a bowl of dry & another bowl of wet but can't leave it down in the garage all night because of other animals coming in eating it. Thanks again for all your thoughts, they are much appreciated. God Bless.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Diana Lynn,

      You're certainly welcome.

      When you get the Brewer's Yeast with Garlic, most of these products are given by the cat's weight. As long as you get close, there shouldn't be a problem. If there are some stomach upsets, then you might need to scale back the dose for a while, then when he's used to that dose, up the next dose a bit & stick with that dose for a while, then keep repeating until he's up to the proper dose for his weight. Some cats take more time to get used to eating Brewer's Yeast.

      Any good bag of cat food should give you feeding instructions. Most cat food (wet or dry) is usually done by the weight of the cat. Since we're in Winter, normally a cat will have different eating habits & amount of appetite due to the colder temps and needing to generate more heat to stay warm.

      I agree with your friend - a very likely probability is he's eating too fast. Most likely due to his being abandoned & not having a good food source every day.

      Kudos - good for you in being sensitive to his needs & keeping the garage door open a bit. Over time & with LOTS of patience, he'll learn to start trusting you more. Just know this takes time.

      Kudos to your groomer for her efforts & not charging you.

      God Bless you, too. Hope all continues to go well with you and your new found cat companion this winter.

    • profile image

      anne 6 years ago

      This hub is a great idea. I always need encouragment during the winter that I'm doing enough for the cat that lives outside. I don't want to wake up to frozen cat. I have a small dog house outside and have put a wool blanket, a sweat shirt, and another blanket in it. I hope it will be warm enough. Its suppose to be 20 tonight. He survived last year when it was this cold but he sure wanted to come inside. I'm considering either getting some kind of cover for the doghouse or maybe some straw to put in a better protected place. Or maybe some styrofoam. Should I do anything else, or will he be ok?

      I do have an inside cat that I'm looking for a home for, if anyone is interested. He's a black and white 2 year old neutered male. I'm gone a lot, and he just needs more interaction. sounds strange for a cat, but its true.

    • profile image

      karen 6 years ago

      Hi Found your article. Thanks. I have 4 outdoor cats who were/are young when I brought them in to heal from illness. They were getting "fixed" thur Cat Welfare and had to be well of course. Now it is cold and I feel like a very mean person having to return them out into the weather. I have the dog house for them which I will fill with straw. There are other shelters on the property where they live that I have filled with straw. I feed them at the same time twice a day that I feed their family already outside. I have been caring for this colony for a year and half since their care person passed. But she didn't neuter/spay them and with my care they multiplied. I am trying to take care of that and have done most of them. I don't want them sick again, nor do I want to lose them. Will they be warm enough, and will they find their own shelter such as I have found them in my basement since the landlord doesn't keep up this property? I don't want to invest this much emotional time to these kitties but darn it, they get to ya.

      Thanks

    • profile image

      DianaLynn 6 years ago

      I need some "Fast" help please.

      A police officer told us the feeding feral cats in the state of south carolina was illegal & we can be arrested & put in jail for it.

      a friend of mine who lives in a condo here has been feeding the cats & they have just had kittens. She feeds them & gives them a box to sleep in outside by her door.

      the association is trying to trap them & take them to a shelter. She said they have even installed a camera on the post to see who is tossing the traps away so the cats dont go in them. i think it is awful, i cant belive anyone could be so cruel. can anyone find out if this law is true & if an association has any rights to trap & destroy these animals. i am trying any way i can to see what i can do to protect them.

      thanks

      diana

    • profile image

      mistermoto 6 years ago

      The feral cats I've been involved with live behind a fast food restaurant

      s parking lot. This is about 15-20 minutes from where I live. The local humane society already trapped two little cats about 6-8 months old, and one big tom cat. They were neutered and given shots. One of the to little ones was kept by humane society because she was friendly and liked to be petted. The other little one, they shy one, was put back out, along with the tom cat, the day after surgery.

      I am very upset about this. I have been feeding and watering the cats for several weeks, and so have other people. A few of us have made shelters for them. I am torn between--- buying an igloo/making another shelter---and finding another organization to trap this little one so I can work with her to help her become adoptable.

      I live in Michigan and it is getting freezing outside. The shelters we have made are filled with straw. I was thinking of making another one and filling is with old woolen sweaters and fleece material.

      What do you recommend? I don't want to further traumatize the little cat.

    • profile image

      dianelynn 6 years ago

      I am so sick of the way this world treats animals, somthing has to change.

      these animals bother no one, they are trying to survive just like we are in this world. we are here to help each other, animals included.

      i hate hunters who shoot animals just for sport, it is in humane.

      we need to change laws for animals not just for us,

    • profile image

      dianalynn 6 years ago

      does anyone know of any thing i can spray my garage with just to prevent fleas from living in there, while my feral cat lives there @ night.

      I like to take that precaution, i am parinoid i will get them in my house with my shish tzu, he is on flea meds and always has been. i want to get the cat to the vet to be checked & flea meds to but i dont have the funds at the moment. wonder what Terminix uses & if i can buy it somewhere?

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      TO ALL -

      My most profound apologies! Unfortunately, I got the flu 4 1/2 days ago & to add insult to injury, my computer router died the same day. Needless to say, I've not been able to get here to answer your questions.

      I'm starting to feel better (yea!) but my computer isn't totally fixed yet.

      The following are my replies to your comments. Sorry for the delay.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Anne,

      Yes, the best you could add would be straw. As you can see in most of the comments on this Hub, straw is a great insulator. You might also want to consider a SnuggleSafe (which you heat up in the microwave). It stays on for several hours.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Karen,

      Thanks for caring for those feral cats on the property. And yes, those critters do find ways into your heart.

      You might want to scroll up a bit on the comments to this Hub. There's a link (actually it's in several places) that gives you some really great ideas for outside shelters & most of them will fit into most budgets (even limited ones).

      Keep up the great work in caring for & spaying/neutering the feral cats!

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      DiannaLynn,

      Sorry, I can't help you on the laws of South Carolina. While I agree with your sentiments - All I can say is that ignorance is everywhere, and please be careful. Do not break the law.

      You have the best idea - we ALL need to make sure the laws in our area (local & State levels) are as animal friendly as possible. This means to be sure to register to vote & to do enough research into the candidates as possible to know if they are amimal friendly.

      As to the fleas - did you get the Brewer's Yeast with Garlic at WalMart? Also, you might want to check WalMart for any sprays you can use in the garage. While there is a cost involved, at least getting it at WalMart, you know it's about the lowest price you can get.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      MisterMoto,

      Kudos for caring for the feral cats! You might want to consider a Mysterious Purr Pad, or a SnuggleSafe -depending on how often you can go to the shelter. This will help keep the cat warm thru a very cold winter night. Also make sure there's enough thickness of straw.

      I like your idea of capturing her and trying to socialize her. This is the best alternative as far as I'm concerned (but I'm biased!). Just remember it will take tons of time & patience to socialize her, and most of all, as many have noticed, a cat has ways of stealing our hearts.

    • profile image

      Jeremy 6 years ago

      recently my mum decided to keep our cats outside permanently and not letting them in the house as they are becoming incontinent and making the house smell. we placed there beds, food and water bowls outside in our side shed. it is sheltered from the wind however at the moment in the UK we are experiencing a very cold winter. My cats are getting old and im afraid that they are entering their last years. Furthermore this means that keeping them warm is essential. so i have put blankets and pillows and all sorts down and around the shed to make them as comfortable as possible. do you have any other tips that i can use to keep my cats as warm as possible. there is no plug sockets in the side shed so i cant put in a heater. i feel so sorry for them when i see them outside and want them to be warm!!

    • profile image

      Jeremyevans 6 years ago

      also, my cats have been living in our house for the last ten years therefore not used to the cold weather at night. do you think this will be a problem? i tried my best to pursuade my mum not to put them outside but she isnt listening to me. if you believe that they will not be able to put up with the permanent cold weather, i will pursuade my mum to let them back into the house. (i am the same person who wrote the previous comment but i hadnt set up an account then)

    • profile image

      karen 6 years ago

      Hey thanks for the help. I did get a surprise. The lady who once cared for them who passed, BIL came over SAT with a "cathouse" he actually made for them. The poor man must be in his late 80s and very arthritic. It has a real slate roof and very well made. I can lift the roof and have put straw and a pet bed in it. So now they actually have this condo thing going on her front porch. They ought to stay warm, I hope. And I am getting great ideas here. Thanks much.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      JeremyEvans,

      Sorry to hear about your Mum insisting the cats be put outside due to their old age & incontinence. This can be a problem for many people - it's mostly a misperception on our (humans) part.

      As cats age, just like we do, there are things that just don't work like they used to. Sometimes there is a medical reason the vet can point to, sometimes not. Bottomline, sometimes a cat, like an older human becomes incontinent and that's just a fact of life. I personally would NOT put a cat that's been inside for it's whole life. That is cruel & unusual punishment for many years of companionship. It's confusing to the cat - the cat has no clue why it's been suddenly punished and put outside. Plus it's not intentional on the cat's part...they do NOT intend on being incontinent. They PREFER to be tidy & go in the litter box, that's the way they're made.

      If they are as close to the end of their lives (and I believe you...you know them best) - then I most definitely would not put them outside. A suggestion would be to get a cat enclosure (cage) that you could keep them inside of. Be sure to have fresh food, water & a small litter box inside & go and spend time with them.

      Another idea - if you have a small room you could "isolate" them in, especially if it was a tile floor instead of carpet - then you could let them loose in this room with fresh food, water & a litter box & be sure to go and spend time with them. That way they'd have room to play & move around, but would be more confined. So if there was an "accident" it could be cleaned up easier and Mum wouldn't have to worry about all of the house getting "messed up."

      Should all this fall on deaf ears & they have to stay outside, you might want to scroll through the comments on this Hub. There is a link (in several places on this Hub) that shows some great ideas and designs for cat shelters that will fit into any budget, even low end budgets. Also, SnuggleSafe is a great product. And straw is an outstanding insulator.

      There are tons of terrific ideas throughout the comments on this Hub, so hopefully you see something that will help. Hope what I've written helps you out.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Karen,

      You're certainly welcome. Glad this Hub is helping you keep those kitties warm this winter. Great surprise getting that wonderful cat shelter...now they've got the best house in the neighborhood!

    • profile image

      Anne 6 years ago

      Thanks for the advice. I was considering bringing the cat in tonight. Its suppose to be 14. However, he would have to stay in the cat carrier and wouldn't cooperate. But I noticed that even though he supposedly has been outside all day, he wasn't the least bit chilled. He felt like he had just come out of a warm place and was just slightly cold on the fur. So, I'm not too worried about him. But I will see about getting him some straw. Maybe someone else took pity on him and gave him a warm place to sleep.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Anne,

      You're certainly welcome.

      Just remember, during the daytime, the cat can soak up the sun's rays, but at night it gets lots colder. As you point out, going down to 14 is COLD. Bringing him inside when it's that cold outside is a good idea. It's ultimately up to you - you'll make the best decision. (Also remember that a cat's normal temp is somewhere above 100 degrees, so they usually do feel warmer to our touch.)

      Good for you for checking out getting him some straw for insulation!

    • profile image

      Gina 6 years ago

      Just wanted to leave this comment - someone mentioned buying a heating pad - I would NOT recommend this. Heating pads get EXTREMELY hot and their instructions specifically say "do not sleep on the pad." I would NOT advise to let any pet sit on the mat, much less sleep on it for hours at a time. DO NOT use heating pads for keeping your pets warm as it may cause injury/burns!

    • profile image

      Gina 6 years ago

      THANK you for all you do on this page - I just wanted to give you my perspective on something:

      I think that when someone mentions something that is commonly thought of as safe, but isn't (as in the recommendation to NOT use towels/blankets to line any enclosures because they draw heat away from the body and can freeze when wet), that it doesn't matter how many times it's duplicated. People do not, and will not read every single comment - especially when they're just looking for information - when it comes to safety, the more comments the more chance it will get noticed - and hopefully save a cat's life.

      It would be great also to have a "5 things not to do" compilation to really bring attention to them.

      Gina

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Gina,

      First of all - THANKS for the great comment about NOT sleeping directly on a heating pad. This will help us all out.

      Next - you are correct. When someone is searching for answers, they usually don't want to take the time to read everything, but want it short, sweet & to the point. I normally do point out to folks (after giving a hopefully short & to the point answer) that IF they want more info, they can then scroll thru the comments on this Hub.

      I also really like your suggestion about the "things not to do compilation" to bring more attention to them. I think it might even need it's own Hub. I'll have to do a bit of research on it, and since I'm in the middle of researching another Hub, guess I've got my work cut out for me (besides my day job, that is...LOL). Anyway, thanks for the great comment & wonderful idea.

    • profile image

      tami 6 years ago

      I have whats called snugglesafe dor my outsie cat heat in microwave last 10 hours or so it keeps him real warm get on internet..

    • profile image

      Donna 6 years ago

      I have a extremely large black cat I have been feeding for a while now. He is neutered and not afraid of people. It seems like someone just left him. I have two indoor cats and one of them got out when I was in the hospital and got into a fight with the black cat and really hurt him. So I can not let the black one in and now there are times he comes to the back door and I think he wants in. i do not know how to ever have these two get alone or let alone live together. I have not taken him to the vet because he will not let you put him in the carrier. That comes to my second question I live in South Florida and it has become extremely cold lately with freeze warnings. Blackey the black cat lays on this big generator box with alot of matress pads and sheets on top of it. This is also inside my screened in patio. The bottom half of the enclosure is metal and top half is screen and I leave the door cracked for him to come in and out of. I put a large box out there with a lot of blankets and he would not go in it at all. He will only lay on the top of the generator box. So i go out and cover him with the blankets and towels and even a sweater of mine and he will stay under them until he wants to come out. Is that okay? I read about the sleeping bag and will save money to buy one as soon as I can. In the mean time is this okay. I am worried about him. Also, my son says not to even try to like keep him in the bathroom because one we do not know if he is sick and two we really do not think he would stay in there can you let me know if what I am doing is okay and about the cats getting along and possibly living together. My son does not think that is possible after how bad he hurt the inside cat.

    • profile image

      melissa 6 years ago

      hi there! finally a site where i feel i will ghet some informative info and maybe some help. ok...where do i start? so,theres 4 cats in my yard. well 2 main ones that i care for tremendously..ones big n fluffy and gorgeous,and the others orange and baout 7 mo's old. i dont know theyre sex because they never let me too close to them. =( i been feeding them 4 times a day for the past 3 mo's! i do this to make sure theyre getting nice n chubby to keep em warm. i even buy them cat milk for added vitamins!i cry evernight for these cats! i live in an apartment in rockland ny,and my ladlord isnt very nice when it comes to animals. theres NO way for me to make a mini house or shelter,its not my property,and i practically sneak to feed them. they hide under a neighbors shed that has a space under it about less than a foot. someone found out i was putting theyre food there and stuck thorned branches and BIG sticks just so they cant go under! i was hysterical! my hubby moved the sticks and all..however its 4degrees below tonight,and i cant sleep worried sick for them! i just heated up some food and water with a lil milk,(i know milks bad for kittys but i cant help it) and its 3am,i look out my window and see theyre little heads under the shed. ive put my hubbys thermal shirt,a sheet,a towel,and a toilet seat cover (the ones made of carpet) under there and i feel it isnt enough! im willing to bring them in at night to sleep warm (i can get evicted for this btw) but they will not follow no matter what. well they come but refuse to come in the hallway and up the stairs! lol..theyre so scared! i cant do what i want! im willing to buy a lil house for them and whatever else,but i cant! have no where to place it! people are so mean and evil i tell ya! sheesh! well....i wish someone can help! i wanna keep them warm. ill feed them,whatever they need,anything!!! i even told my sister that iwished i could put a coat n boots on them! lol...well... im open to ANY suggestions! help! thank you for all u do. just cause they dont have a voice doesnt mean they dont have a heart n soul! =) thats how i feel! take care....

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Tami,

      Yes, many of us have found the SnuggleSafe product to be GREAT. You can usually find it on Amazon.com (for the best price)

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Donna,

      Good for you for caring about what happens to the Black cat & for trying to take care of him & keep him warm this winter!

      Right now, you might want to consider either using a SnuggleSafe (product you warm in the microwave & stays warm many hours). Or you might want to add straw (since it's such a great insulator). Since it sounds like you've got a very limited budget, these are the best solutions I can think of for right now.

      As for getting the two cats to live together & inside (living in peace) - well, it's possible, but it will take LOTS of time & patience on your's and your son's part. Obviously, the inside cat getting out was NOT the optimal way of introducing the two of them.

      You want to slowly re-introduce them & get them used to each other's scent. The inside cat getting outside was "threatening" to Blackey. His (Blackey) territory was invaded. Over time, try putting a sock over your hand and pet your inside cat. Then (same day) go pet Blackey using the sock. This will rub the scent on Blackey. Then reverse the process. Pet Blackey with a different sock on your hand and then pet the inside cat with the sock/Blackey's scent. (one sock for each cat...don't use same sock for both cats). Here's a good link that discusses in detail how to introduce cats to each other - http://maxshouse.com/introducing_cats.htm

      Just remember, in the beginning, the cats will growl & hiss & spit. This is NORMAL. Cats are territorial. As I said earlier, it takes lots of time & patience, but it is possible for them to live together in peace (if not total harmony).

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 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).

    • profile image

      melissa 6 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 image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 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

      Bridget 6 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 image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 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

      Margaret 6 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 image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 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

      Samorita 6 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 image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 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 6 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 image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Samorita,

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

    • profile image

      Nadia  6 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 image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 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

      Marilyn1956 6 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 image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 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 6 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 image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 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

      krazykatlady 6 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 image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 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

      Madeleine 6 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?

    • profile image

      jc 6 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!

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 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.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 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...

    • profile image

      Madeleine 6 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 image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 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 6 years ago

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

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 years ago from TX

      Madeleine,

      You're welcome!

    • profile image

      David 6 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.

    • profile image

      Purrsy 6 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.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 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.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 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.

    • profile image

      Purrsy 6 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 image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 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

      Bobwired 6 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 image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 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.

    • Misty39 profile image

      Misty39 6 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 image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 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).

    • profile image

      sammie 6 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 image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 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

      Shyloh Needs Canary Supplies 6 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!

    • profile image

      Flower girl 6 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!:)

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 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

      allyssa 6 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 image
      Author

      Jean Keith 5 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

      Emily 5 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 image
      Author

      Jean Keith 5 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

      lucydann 5 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 image
      Author

      Jean Keith 5 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

      D. Cox 5 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 image
      Author

      Jean Keith 5 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

      lucydann 5 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 image
      Author

      Jean Keith 5 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

      Bridget 5 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 image
      Author

      Jean Keith 5 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

      SueAnn 5 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 image
      Author

      Jean Keith 5 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

      Kate 4 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 image
      Author

      Jean Keith 4 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

      Msds12 4 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 image
      Author

      Jean Keith 4 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 4 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 image
      Author

      Jean Keith 4 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

      L. Gibson 4 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 image
      Author

      Jean Keith 4 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

      Connie, Mi 3 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.

    • profile image

      Connie, Mi 3 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

      mom of 4 3 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

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 3 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

      samjsp 3 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 image
      Author

      Jean Keith 3 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 3 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!

    • profile image

      Carole 3 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?

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 3 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

      Marian 3 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 image
      Author

      Jean Keith 3 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

      VWSouza 3 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 image
      Author

      Jean Keith 3 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

      jonelle kanouse 7 months 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

    • profile image

      Jean 7 months 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

      MommainNCMO 7 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 ?

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 7 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

      Dorothy 6 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 image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 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

      bettybb 6 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 image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 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.

    • Jean Nash profile image
      Author

      Jean Keith 6 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.

    • profile image

      warmheartedwinter 6 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.

    • profile image

      Donna Mac 5 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.

    Click to Rate This Article