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Readers Respond: Do you manage a feral cat colony? How do you protect them in wintertime?

Responses: 148


Homemade outside cat shelter

what I do is push my patio chairs under the table on the patio and push it next to my house which is sheltered with a privacy fence. Next buy styrafoam insulation and cut it to the size of the table top. Then lay more insulation, the silver kind used to insulate your walls, no abestes please, and lay these sheets over the styrafoam and tape down. Now, put thick newspaper on one of the chairs and you can tape more insulation to the back of the chair, mine are wrought-iron. Put a heated-outdoor pad, from pet smart on the chair seat over the newspaper, and a very thin piece of fleece for comfort. Cover the entire table, chairs with a waterproof tarp, then I put over that my heavy duty table and chairs cover, making sure everthing is covered properly so the chair with the cat doesn't get wet. Secure the whole thing down with bungie cords and your table set is protected and your outside kitties are warm!! You can put their food dishes and water underneath as if it were a big tent!
—Guest beachlady

Heated Pet Pads

Go to AlleyCatsAllies and read about taking care of feral cats. They have great ideas to help in making shelters. Their suggestions certainly apply to socialized kitties too. I have been using heated pet pads in thick insulation cat boxes that my husband made for 2 years now. He also made small wooden insulated boxes and we put heated pet pads in them. The cats love the warmth from these pads. The weight of the cat causes the pad to heat to 102 degrees which is considered safe for them. You need an electric outlet close enough to run an extension cord to the shelters. Never use blankets, towels etc because if the cat is wet from rain or snow, the water just stays in the material and makes them colder. Pile lots of straw (not hay) deep in the shelter and use mylar under and around the straw. They will burrow deep in the straw and it wicks the wet away from them. Change it when it gets dirty or too wet. Kitties need a warm shelter and spayed or neutered!
—Guest Cathy

Feral cat

A female cat started living under my deck 9 years ago.....I noticed she was declawed so someone probably just dropped her off. She has lived under the deck in the cold Chicago winters by my furnace heat exhaust for 9 winters. in the winter I use a large dog feeder and fill it with dry food and use an electric heated water bowl. Sometimes she doesn't come our from under the deck for days but is always out on the first warm sunny day..the cold never seems to bother her. I made her a house with a heated bottom and she's in it during the fall and early winter. But the minute the freezing temperatures start, she goes under the deck.....I used to worry that she would die under there but it's what she is used to and never seems to have suffered even in the coldest of winters.
—Guest Sherry

extreme cat homes

I use coleman extreme 72 quart coolers cut a six inch round or square hole. easy to clean out from top
—Guest jimmy coppola

Keep them warm, keep them dry.

I've had a little, very young cat appearing for food, I moved her into an old chicken shed, which I cleaned out and am insulating, I picked up an old fabric cat house/bed dirt cheap (£1) from a charity shop, and have made a wooden platform off the ground, which I have lined ith polystrene and newspaper. I have filled the cat house half full with shredded newspaper and blankets, and am looking into purchasing a hot water bottle, to wrap in fleece and put in there at night. The poor little fellow is clearly freezing, but I feed her three times a day, and keep her watered, I just hope the sweetie is okay. Good luck, and thanks for giving the strays love, all you guys!
—Guest Kitty Helper.

My tips forkeeping ferals warm in winter

I bought a Kitty Tube for Peanut. She is the semi-feral "community" cat. I got her vaccinated and spayed in September 2013 with the help of Purrfect Cat rescue. She's turned out to be a very friendly cat and not so wild and ferally. And I didn't know what to do - chase her away after all that effort to keep her healthy? That didn't make much sense! So I bought a Kitty Tube on Amazon with the straw option. And I bought the heating pad. I wasn't sure if it would be cold enough to require a heating pad, since I live in California but it has been unseasonably cold for the last few days. The heating pad is a great addition! And Peanut LOVES her kitty tube! She uses it every night and day. It's easy to keep clean, lightweight and very air tight (no leaks)
—Guest MiltonandMolly

Heated Pet Beds

A novel solution to the heated cat bed problem: http://www.amazon.com/review/R1BBRNT6N1BACE?_encoding=UTF8&asin=B000ICKBCW&cdForum=Fx3T27GOVRYUPU2&cdMSG=addedToThread&cdPage=&cdThread=Tx1BS5OUZ80TGLF&newContentID=Mx2YYEGIO9PG3RN&newContentNum=5&store=pet-supplies#CustomerDiscussionsNRPB Be sure to read the comments for specifics.
—Guest Reba63

Heated Pet Bed Solution

Trying to find a way to heat a feral cat shelter proved quite a challenge. This reviewer on Amazon came up with a novel solution involving seed starting mats and a thermostat.

Decent fix for ferals in the cold

I bought an old lift top freezer for $20.00. Put in a half shelf and drilled 3 ea. 6 inch diameter holes...2 below the shelf at each end and 1 above the shelf. The insulation and heavy structure helps keep the wind, rain, cold, and hot out. You can lift the top to remove the bedding for cleaning etc. We trapped a few abandoned little kitty muffins, had them fixed, and brought them back to feed. No mice problems here.
—Guest Les

keep them warm

I find old coolers people have discarded cut a hole in each and and put a piece of old vinyl flooring with slots to make a flap on the door.I figure if you keep your beer cool in the summer it will keep your cat warm the winter
—Guest jim

Winter Cat house for abandoned kitty

I used a chihuahua house for shelter & put it on my porch. BEST HOUSE IS A WOODEN DOG HOUSE, if u have it. Insulate it with 2" insulation foam sheets from any hardware store. Mine cost $2.84 for a small sheet w/mylar backing. Mylar is a reflective that keeps the cat warm when their body lays on it. You can buy a mylar blanket cost $2 & attach it to the insulation. Cut insulation to fit the bottom & all sides of the inside of the house. Secure it with glue/tape but u don't have to. Styrofoam conforms. Cut it slightly bigger. Push it into the area u want & it will hold there just fine. This is what I did. ALWAYS USE STRAW for cat bedding. It is an excellent insulator. DO NOT use clothes or anything made of material. It will absorb water & make your cat cold & sick. $1 Store placemats cut to make a door flap work great. I then wrapped the house in tarp leaving the front open & elevated it off the ground 4 inches. Straw cost $8.50/bale. kitty stays warm & protected


Hi, I am volunteer in cat organization help street cats. We build kitty condo for street cats using plastic storage container, cover with Tarp and duct tape. Cut door for cat and put warm blanket and hay straws in it and put them under some shelter. That will provide warm shelter and protect cats from wind and snow. You can try that. But make sure its only used by that kitty and not by other animal.
—Guest Amy

Our feral felines

October is a round up month to spay and neuter at a reduced cost at our Humane Society. We live-trapped a recent litter of 4. I wish I could've found them a few weeks earlier. We may have been able to socialize them somewhat. 2 males, 2 females. They received vaccines, had their ears clipped and were also micro-chipped. We waited 48 hrs to make sure all was well before we re-released them. They come every morning for breakfast and every evening for supper. I've become to attached to these beauties. With winter on it's way I was very concerned for them. My husband built a 4x4 home w/1inch insulation. The top is removable with doubled insulation. We have their bedding made with thick wool insulation from an old quilt and a heavy chenille blanket and old fleece blankets. We live up by Canada so I think we may need to also place a heated mat for icy nights when the temps fall below deep to sub-zero. Has anyone used any of those pet heaters? Their home is raised & water-proof.
—Guest NanaBabes

Feral Cat Shelter

-Don't use blankets they take warmth away from cat. -Straw, not Hay. Straw is for bedding hay is for feeding. -Mylar blankets are dirt cheap, get em at any Canadian tire or camp store & spray glue them on walls & roof will help keep the cats warmth inside. -I made the mistake of using a light bulb, but in Canada it gets down to -35 Celsius and I have a hard time not using heat. But apparently this will cause problems with the cats internal temperature. Cheaper version use a fish box(2"Styrofoam) from a restaurant put weight on top like plywood and something heavy for windy days & straw inside for warmth, glue Mylar blanket inside to keep kitty's heat in for colder climates like here . You can paint it on the outside to the color of surroundings if you like. http://www.alleycat.org/ShelterGallery great site.
—Guest Therese

Winter house for feral cat

I bought a $15 covered cat litter box. The top latches on to the litter pan, so it's easy to open to replace torn up rags for bedding. (Cats need to burrow, so loose items are better than towels.) The top of the enclosed litter box has a vent that can be fitted with a low watt light, or, I simply cover the whole top with a rug that covers the entry halfway. This protects the cat from wind, and probably feels more secure. The cat can still see what's out there, but is also obscured from view.
—Guest Erica

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