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

Responses: 145


feral cats

A few women and a married couple and I feed and tend to between 20-30 feral/abandoned cats. Two of the women catch, release and rehome when possible and some of us have adopted and rehomed. But people keep dumping kittens. We have a couple low shelters filled with staw and covered with roofing material. Then we have about 16 rubbermaid totes filled with straw and a small hole cut a few inches above ground so water wont get in. Also, TJ built wood coverings 8-10" openings above the openings to help keep rain and snow out. Worst thing is keeping water from freezing - we have no electric available. They are behind a large businesses parking lot next to woods and creek. I wish i had $ so i could get a piece of property fence it and build them a warm feral preserve.. where they would b safe. Most if them are afraid to b touched. The feral i adopted took 7-8 mths before she would even rub on my leg, now about 10-11 mths she's almost completely tame. Patience and love is the key.
—Guest weirton cat lover


I have a dog house the cats do not go in-keep hoping-where can I buy straw-I live in Orlando
—Guest Ronnie

Winter nights!

I moved to an apartment building in NYC last year and started to look after a colony of strays. There are about 15 of them. I feed them daily and keep plenty of water around. In Dec I bought two kittytubes. They share the space. I also put made a tent with blankets and a down quilt for the few that didn't crawl into the tubes. It's the best I can do but I still feel awful that they are out in the cold at night. I notice now as we are into day 4 of the very low temps that they are eating and moving around less. I wish I could do more. Poor things!
—Guest Tessie

Solutions for keeping cats warm

This is a tip that I got from the feline fix in Denver, CO. They suggested large plastic storage bins with a whole cut into the end of it. I use an insulation foam DO NOT use the insulation that you have in your attic; the kind that rolls out. It has fiberglass and is not good for this application. I get the foam insulation at home depot, it's about $8 for a 4'X8' sheet and you can cut it into 3rds length wise and line 2 plastic bins it is bendable just curve it, and put it in. Then just add a blanket or towel to the inside; I cover mine with moving blankets that you can get at harbor freight for about $6. Total cost for 2 very warm shelters is about $30
—Guest Pam Phillips

Feral Care

I've been feeding 3 feral cats that were born in my yard for almost two years now. I couldn't get near them in the beginning with the mother protecting them. She left them after a few months. I built a shelter out of wood and insulated it with foam panels. Added a small window in front, shingle roof, and emergency exit door on the back. Put it up about 8 inches off the ground. Added straw inside. I trapped these girls when they were smaller and had them neutered and vaccinated. One is very friendly and will always run to me and let me pet her and rub under her chin. After the storm Sandy came and went, the next morning she came limping toward me with an injured paw which has healed since then. It was like something out of a movie. She loves the attention I give her and I'm sure I could bring her inside but I have two cats already plus a wife that doesn't like cats. I feed them dry and wet food, sometimes leftovers. I've gotten attached to these kitties. I used to have mice in my home d
—Guest jnocella

winter shelter

Hercules Huskee styrofoam cooler (available at Kmart) is plenty large ... I use it turned upside down so water doesn't leak down ( I also tape the lid edge all around to keep out rain and wind), and cut a hole in a short side. Place straw inside for extra comfort (if get wet) and warmth (but may not be absolutely necessary since so well insulated).
—Guest Howard


I have been taking care of a cat that showed up on our back door step, so skinny you could see his ribs through his fur, he will come in the house for food, only with the sliding door open, then leave. We built him a great shelter,but last week, did not know he was in there & opened it up to check on the straw, he took off, came back to eat 1 day later, but will not go back in the shelter,he climbs through snow banks and now this week the temperature will only be -19 at best, how do I get him to go back in the warm shelter by our door?Put lots more straw and catnip and even treats, but he won't stay there anymore. Have I screwed up his comfy outdoor home forever?- Nancy S

Looking after my 3 ferals

Due to a neighbour not allowing us to get involved with her find of a mummy cat that had just had 4 kittens, we now have 3 living outside. We were able to get them all fixed and 2 were caught early to get rehomed. The plan was to get all 4 rehomed and us keep mum, however only 2 were placed. We had them at the end of our garden but noticed they wanted to be near the house especially for food. We brought them a large dog house and insulated it and placed it right near our home for winter. They love it! They are warm and well fed, enjoying a nice bowl of warm milk after each meal to wash it down with. We would love to have them in however have an old spitfire of a cat that would not be keen. Also have a puppy that they like as well. We have named them, Puss, Badger and Foxy and they enjoy us as much as we do them. We have built their confidence up so they know that they are well fed and looked after, warm and more importantly safe with us. We love them

Very cold

It's very interesting reading other people's stories, awesome to know other people care enough about God's beautiful creatures to take action.Right now in New York it is about twenty five degrees and I'm so concerned for our outdoor stray cat Twix. Although we cannot touch her she allows us to sit and watch her. She is so cute. We feed her every morning on the deck. My fear is the cold winter and what to do. During about twelve to three in the day the sun shines on part of the yard and she goes their and is fine. But when it is morning and the worst night time I'm so scared for her but my mom assures me she'll be okay. Cats are smarter than us and will find shelter. Still we left for her a new wool blanket in the garage for her, the garage has a hole she goes in sometimes. Also I put out my sweater on the bench outside and caught her curling in it today which made me so happy. All we can keep doing is loving, feeding, and trying to help them stay warm anyway we can. Buying more blanket
—Guest Tray Tray

About my ferals

I have anumber of ferals and domestic cats,I used to have a big warm shed with a heater in the yard for them about 10 would sleep init it lasted for about 4 years,then i had to pull it down, they dident know what the hell was going on with there shelter. I eventually got them used to staying in and there fine some are still timid and dont let you stroke them, but i hop there happy here i often think have i done the right thing.Just caught 2 kittens months ago which i have kept they were about 3 months old wen i caught the male is so lovng his sister is the shy one but she is getting there, then the mother got pregnant again before i could catch her she had 2 more kitens i caught one kitten got her rehomed, the mum i have just had spayed and is now letting me stroke her and her female friend is spayed there in a nice warm bathroom in a cage but i dont wanna release them back in the wild as its on the docks still trying to get the other kitten and another cat just dont know what to do
—Guest christine

Caring for feral cats!

I feed daily and care for about 18 Feral cats for about two years. They all have been neutered. They live on Long Island in New York. Tonight it is snowing and cold. On top of the cold, it has rained often this past week. I get double cardboard boxes from Costco, cover them with plastic. Line them with newspaper, put in hay. I put plastic over the entrance, then cut it in strips, so they can enter, but the opening is still covered. I also put a few boxes together and staple a long sheet of plastic across the boxes to keep the openings dry. It hurts to know that they are out there in the cold. Next week the nights will be 12 degrees. It is so sad. These poor creatures don't deserve what happened to them.
—Guest Barbara

feral cats

I have 5 feral cats in my home that are my family, also there is about 20 feral cats outside, but they are not mine. I have turned the crawl space under the back of my home into a shelter for the feral cats. I have a lot of straw under there, the straw works the best for cats to stay warm in the winter. They can move it around to make a bed for themselves. I can crawl under there on my hands an knees, I have a water dish with straw around it to help keep it from freezing, also there is a food dish. It stays warm under there and protects them from everything, the opening is big enough for them to get in. It's a board slid over the opening of the crawl space, they are protected from the wind/ snow/ rain/ and the cold, it's a safe haven for them. The most ferals I've had in my home was 20, I have a live trap I use to get them fixed an relocate them to a farm. I live in the city an feral cats are destroyed here, with me they get a 2nd chance to live, been doing this for 15 yrs.I LOVE CAT

ferel cats how to tame her

I love reading about all the lovely people here that help ferel cats I have 2 babies now a male who sleeps now finally in my studio he has his own cat flap and sofa and food so she is all good for winter. the little girl came to me only 2 months ago she looks small and young, she tries to be with my older female cat maybe she thinks its a mother figure sinds she is so young herself, I have seen her play in the bush, she cmes twice a day for food and waits under my partners motorbike where its save and I have put a sheepskin there for her. she does not seem to like the males coming to close or me but she does not mind me sitting a few meters away to talk to her. I want to keep her warm in winter to plus hope I can tame her enough to keep her or give her a new home, my cat is 18 and she does not like other cats in the house she is sick so its fair enough. we live next to bush in new zealand so the cats come and go from the bush into our garden. be happy to hear from cat lovers with advic
—Guest escha

how I keep a cat warm from outside

Someone abandoned a cat and I try to keepit warm. There are night sit does go inside and some night not Is there a reason? I keep it warm and even put cat nip in it. I just don't understand her.
—Guest lisa

Igloos and heated rugs

I have several outdoor cats who appear to have been spayed/neutered but will not come inside. I purchased a couple of igloos with outdoor heated rugs inside from amazon. They love those. They keep them cool in summer and warm in winter. I have those in an open back patio that has a roof over the patio area. That with regular feedings and extra vitamins in the food, we have some of the healthiest strays I've ever seen. There was one who was obviously abandoned and did not appear to be as equipped as the other cats in finding food and taking care of herself. We coaxed her in our back sun room (separate from our indoor cats), had her checked out, vaccinated, dewormed and flea dipped. Now she is a happy member of our family. I would take them all in, however, they appear to be quite happy outdoors. Brewers yeast in the food will help keep them flea-free too!
—Guest linnybug719

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