DIY Cat Shelter for Ferals in the Winter
DIY Outdoor Shelter for Cats Made From a Plastic Tote
Old Man Winter is no friend to outdoor animals. Yes, their bodies are better equipped to handle the elements than ours, but this doesn't mean that they are immune to frostbite and hypothermia either. If you are caring for a stray (feral) cat and want to better its chances for being around to celebrate Spring, here are some tips.
Who doesn't have one of these babies sitting around the house? And, if not, the big box stores usually carry the small ones for around $6.00.
- Simply cut a round hole with a box cutter at one of the ends.
- Place a Styrofoam cooler (these are clearanced in the Fall!) inside the tote and cut a hole to match the tote.
- Line the bottom with straw. Bales usually run $8.00 each and will last the entire winter and insulate several shelters.
- Place the lids back on cooler and then the tote.
- After your feral knows it can come and go from the tote, drape a water-resistant cloth over the entrance.
- Simply place the cloth on top of the tote and secure it by setting a cinder block or other weighted object on top of the tote. This fabric flap door helps keep the elements out of the tote/shelter.
- Simply lift the lids to change out the straw—this should be done several times during the winter.
Tips for Maintaining the Shelter
- Don’t overload the shelter with straw. The felines may not enter if it's too full.
- Never use fabric (blankets, fleece, etc.) for lining. Fabric holds moisture and is counterproductive.
- Shower curtains are good items to use as the flap doors. Make sure your flap door doesn't cover the entire entrance by hiding it—cats need to know where to enter the shelter.
Pet Snuggle Disk
Keep them warm with a pet snuggle disk—simply heat and serve. Doesn't get any easier than that! Most tractor supply or pet supply stores carry them. If you want to let your fingers do the shopping, they are also available on Amazon. For less than $30.00 you can add years to the life of a free-roaming feline.
How to Offer Food and Water
And while feral cats do need shelter, they also need hydration. This can be difficult in the winter months. Try diluting the pate style of canned food with a little water before serving. Don’t leave canned food outside if you don’t see the cat. The can will freeze quickly and usually not be eaten. If you have access to electricity where your little porch guest is staying, then electric water bowls are the answer to quenching its thirst.
Helping an outdoor-only cat survive does take a little effort and it does take some compassion but all good things do that change our world for the better. And sometimes that change begins in our own backyards.