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

Responses: 151


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

One of my cats wont come in will it be

I took him in yrs ago, he loved being in I got a little tiny dog last yr and now this one cat of mine hates it in, I look out and will see him setting on the banister, I put 2 tarps over a bush and straw and blanket I am still worried but he wants to be in there instead of in, how will I know he is ok.. He has lost weight since he has been back out side, I feed five cats out of the woods and two of the neighbors..
—Guest mskittycafe60

feral cats

I use giant plastic bins,i put old blankets,towels.hoodies,ect.Ihave put the bins under my deck,
—Guest isabella

keeping feral cat(s) warm

I feed a few ferals that live in a towyard in ma. i bought a kitty tube which is great but cost $140 w/shipping.(kittytube.com) USE STRAW NOT HAY. big difference, hay holds moisture. the kitty tube is insulated and very sturdy with the small opening. if you cant afford you can make your own with Styrofoam coolers, cut a small doorway, fill with STRAW, put something like a brick on it. try to keep where there is something around it' not just in wide open area. ours is in a trailer at the towyard up on a pallet. they have all been trapped neutered and returned. good luck and God bless
—Guest nancy

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

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