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

Responses: 145


mylar blankets for warmth

I use mylar blankets instead of straw to help keep them warm. You can order them from Amazon and they are not expensive. The Mylar reflects the cat's heat back to them. Line the bottom of the box or whatever you have the cat in and then you can put straw on top if you want to.
—Guest ellen


Take a plastic storage container with the lid on....cut a hole large enough for the cat to get inside on one side of it, some cats prefer 2 holes one on each side so they have an escape route for predators. I lined mine with leftover carpet pad and used duct tape to attach it to the inside on the sides. use straw for bedding, you may need to change it a couple times.
—Guest CT

cat colony

Care for 3 strays bought the Kitty tube ans snuggle safe through Amazon
—Guest deborah

rescue ferals

I too takecare of Gerald I bought a Kitty tube from Amazon along with the snugglesafe warmer for winter and a cooling mat for summer. My 3 ferals love it theyvery spoiled and thriving
—Guest deb


For temporary housing: Take a good size box (24x24) and tape up one end. Fill box half with straw or other bedding material. Tape up the other end of the box so that it is completely packaged up as if you were going to ship it. Then, find a large plastic trash bag (bigger than the box). Insert the box into the bag, cinch up tight, and tie off at one end. Tape down corners, etc as if you were gift wrapping the box with a trash bag. All sides should lay down smooth on the box. Then, using a sharp knife, cut out a square (or circle) in the bottom corner (approximately 6x6). Tape down the plastic edges around the opening. Smooth out the straw inside so that it is shaped like a nest. If needed, you can stack some weight on top to help weigh the house down so it does not blow over. All done. Although not permanent, this can serve as a temporary, water protected house while you look for something more permanent.

examples for shelter

i use a dog house my self but other people dont know. here are some examples of things iv used in the past.a box under my house, builed a little wooden house, or use a old unused car and put a few old clothes \blankets for them to make a bed
—Guest kaystarn

Food Wagon

15-cat colony for 4 yr, set up a unique ferals refuge with 5' hi coon-proof feeding stations (private lake on property) using easy-assemble warehouse-type steel pallet racks, top/bottom pallets, dog house or table with sides on top, works great! Also storage bldg tricked out for them with in/out holes to other pallet racks they love for perches and safety. Newest addition is 'condos' WITH picture windows (Plexiglas) using drawer holes in old, discarded platform bed bottoms. I do TNR routinely, feed em like Morris so no attrition rate here. Home is in city, so, sadly battling Animal Control now on NO free roamers laws. Use what you have or find freebies on salvage, craigslist, etc. Food costs (don't ask!).. refuge setup, free or cheap. Love my wild furry babies.. well worth the effort.
—Guest Food Wagon

how to keep ferals warm

I moved into an apt bldg where there were already two dog house this lady used, that no longer is here. So I put them next to each other up on a pallette. Fille with lots of straw, covered with two tarps and tightened them down to enclose the houses for the majority. I also have in front of the houses another pallete with a tote open to them for their food, I dont want it to get wet. Plus I have to deal with raccoons. There is a family, mom=dad=and a grown up baby and they appear to be quite content. I kid that every year it will get more elaborate to someday will be a big condo out there. haha I worry about them too, warmed their food in the micro the other day when it was very cold. Yes, I know. Good luck
—Guest Debby

Tips for Winter Shelter

I have a colony of approximately 10 cats, some of whom are new this year. I have set out small plastic dog houses on pallets with narrow openings (allows drainage but small kitten heads don't get stuck). These I've placed all around my raise deck so the cats can go to/from below the deck also. The bottoms of the pallets are packed with grass cuttings, straw/hay or leaves to further insulate the bottom of the houses. The doorways are covered with CLEAR heavy plastic taped only at the top. The long-time cats use them frequently and them doing so have encourage the newer cats to do so also.
—Guest DCarter


We don't have a garage or laundry room. Our semi-feral cat lives on the roof of our rear addition. We ended up getting him a little house with a porch. Inside there's a bunny pad that covers about half the floor, which we plug in for cold weather. During heavy snow storms, hurricanes, etc. we let him in to the bathroom, which he doesn't particularly like.
—Guest Lee

My ferals sleep in my laundry room

I have a detached laundry room where I rent a small cottage like house with a yard...and now several fixed ferals...I share my space heater with them since it has been very cold and several of them are getting colds...It cost $140 just to take one to the vet and can't afford all of them..is that bad?
—Guest Terri

To Sandra

Go to the local Humane Society and ask them for a humane trap-bait it,and catch him. Take him to the vet.Then if you have a small bathroom or laundry room,you can keep him in it in a dog kennel with food and water dishes. Many ferals WILL use a litter box if you provide it,and it doesnt small like other cats.Use a shallow cardboard box, lined with a plastic bag and filled with litter, or you can buy disposable litter boxes. approach him cautiously, and let him decide to "come to you.You may also be able to board him at a vet until hes well enough to be ok set free,thats safest with a really wild feral.Call local vet hospitals and find one that will board him.The most important thing is getting him to the vet and the humane trap will allow you to catch him without harm to you or him.Housing for ferals is easy-for small cats, styrofoam coolers with the lid tape on with duct tape and lined with straw provides an insulated cheap cubby;Cut a hole in the side for entry.
—Guest Phyllis

Keeping ferals warm in winter

We look after a colony of 12 cats who live in our large greenhouse, this offers some heat even winter on sunny days. On the benches in the greenhouse I made a number of large boxes and inside that there is a slightly smaller box with the space in between filled with straw. Inside the boxes we use the self heating pads and even here in Canada they all keep nice and snug. In the centre of the greenhouse I have a stand about 3ft high mounted on a steel pole cemented into the ground. This is where we leave food over night as being rural raccoons can get into the food but a raccoon can climb but cannot jump. We also have a second feeding station down in our bush, again on a pole for those cats that won't come into the greenhouse.this feeding station is enclosed .
—Guest Geoff


It sounds like your already doing a very good job as cats take a long time to adapt. One thing they don't like is change. Is there any way you could rebuild their shelter. Also does the county or area loan traps(cages to catch) them in? Also a cat can't resist play, something on a long string, preferably something with catnip on the end. Keep the length of string long enough to keep it a safe distance from you. When the cats forget about you and are hard at play draw in the string. Play this several times, over the course of a week until the ones you wish to catch are at your feet. Have some one else doing it while you grab. Continue playing. Have something secure to put kitty in. I hope I understood your need and could be of help.

My 17 Feral Cats

I got a big wooden box from work an engine came in it. I took the box cut the front of it and insulated it top bottom and the sides with underlying carpet. Then I took 5 heating pads and bought cat/dog carpets at Walmart for 5 dollars each. Put the down-filled duvet on top of heating pads / and then the cat carpets on top, it is toasty warm in there. Over top of the whole box I put very thick plastic I got from work holds out the cold / covered the whole thing and then cut thick strips in the front to get in and out. Every morning at 5:30 am they all come out from in there house and they are all very warm when they all surround me to get their hugs,.and then their food. I love my cats so much. I have my two favorite that I let in the house every morning while my dog sleeps and doesn't know there in the house. They have to go back outside at 6:30 am because Luke my dog wants to come out of the bedroom then. My cats have warmth, food and most important love lots of love
—Guest sherrill

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