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

Responses: 63


In the associated article, a reader asked how to protect a little stray cat from the cold winter weather. I offered my own advice, but people who manage feral cat colonies probably have dozens of other suggestions. If you fit that description, here's your opportunity to share your knowledge and experience. Other potential feral colony managers may decide to take the leap, based on your advice.

Cat needs vet care

We have caught many feral sand took them to the vet. We released them right back in our yard we've had all of them spayed and neutered. Everyone have stayed right here for many years. They won't leave,yes he will be upset but I promise they know when they have a good thing. He may hide until he settles down but after that he will go right back to his old routine.
—Guest Sandra

feral cats

The best thing you can do is to trap all the feral cats and have them fixed. Check around if there is a Feral cat program that offer free or discount neutering/spaying. There will be no more baby kittens born that have very little chance of survival. I am currently taking care of 8 feral cats, all have been neutered/spayed by the humane society save our feral program. so it was a relieve that this is free. I have one more feral cat to trap and fixed but she is just too smart for her own good. They know to come in the morning and evening to eat. I have one that stays in the shelter I built with a 35 gallon tote, lined with insulation styrofoam that has a silver backing and add straws and cut out a hole for him to go in. Also, if you leave several litter trays out filled with cat litter, the feral cats will know to do their business there and not in your garden. I have 5 litter pans all over my garden and they know to go in there and I have not seen any cat poop in my garden beds.
—Guest Dee

cat housing

I use thick polystyrene boxes the kind that fridges tele's etc come in these are warm and waterproof, i put blankets inside to keep them cosy and warm
—Guest betty

kitty house on deck

I put a large carrier on a medium plastic table outside my deck close to the deck door on the stationary side, took the door off and turned the top of the carrier around so that the front faced the back, so both sides had an escape side on the back one I put a clear plastic so they could get out if a danger came, and faced the front opening toward the deck door not too close for easy in and out, inside i put a out door heating pad made for outside cats with fur blankets under it and up the side wals, then I put eight foot see through plastic panels slanted against the house with heavy deck chairs holding them in place which protected them from the snow or rain coming in but left two side exits for them to go out if needed
—Guest angela


I care for a special feral cat for the last 4 yrs. she refuses to get into the cat house shelter we built, but instead likes to sleep in a tall pine tree that has alot of branches. In winter, she goes deep inside a woodpile on the property and seems to stay warm. I am going to fix it up better for next winter, and put straw inside and an old tarp on top. she also, crawls under old plywood on the ground, always scared and looking around. the plywood stays warm from the sun. She is really beautiful, smoke gray and green eyes, very loving, I know she is one smart kitty. I make sure she eats twice a day, as she almost starved most of her life before I found her. I started feeding 9 in the colony. the old ones passed, some got run over, babies without their mom. I was able to gain trust of her, and bring her home. she was scared and ran off for 2 months, I thought i had lost her for good, my heart was heavy with grief, then she returned. feral cats are the best.
—Guest nc

Feral Cats

I have a large colony of about 30 to 50 cats. They live near me and I use about 2 bags(16lbs each) a day to feed them. Often in the last few years momma cats have left entire litters on my porch. I take care for them the best I can. My fear is that at my age I may not wake up some morning soon. I worry very much because many of the people in this area hate cats and I fear for their safety. I once contacted ASPCA and they were quite rude telling me that there was no one in my area. For many years I have fed doctored and cared for them. Is there a group that helps animals such as these? My town has no animal control and close towns refuse to accept them. I believe that when God gave us dominion over animals He also gave us responsibility to treat them right. Any information will be appreciated.
—Guest Theoldman


Hi, I have been feeding feral cats in my back yard. When I first moved into my bottom floor apartment they were everywhere. I am allergic to them but had to help. They were starving, bones sticking out. Several kittens nearly died I rescued them and moved them to a special place that helps feral cats. The momma passed away leaving one orange and white cat behind. A second kitten came by with it's momma. They were terrified of humans. Over a period of time they learn to trust me. Recently over six cats disappeared. I managed to safely bring in a kitten left behind. I asked around know one new what happened to the cats. I asked my one neighbour and he proudly announced that he shot some of them. Some people just have no care for life period. I said, "you shot some of them, that isn't good!" He said, "It is their own fault they were pooping in my garden. I am so upset.
—Guest Robin

Feral Cats

I have an older cat(21 years). When the power was out for several days, I was afraid the coldness would harm her. She just made herself really fluffy and curled up. I even caught her playing in the wet tub. I don't know if all cats have this ability. But maybe this can ease your mind. t
—Guest CaraElena

Cedar Houses and Hayneedle Wood House

Bought a house with heater from hayneedle.Com, cute,enough for the 4 strays i've aquired. Ii had previously bought two little cedar houses from undercover pet houses and they are elevated also from the ground and filled them with straw but was afraid they wouldn't be warm enough on freezing days and nights but the little wooden house from hayneedle with the mounted heater inside is plenty big enough for all four and they seem to love it,thermostat set on low for now but can be turned up as needed.They are in an enclosed sanctuary my husband built for me so there is no danger of predators or vehicles and they have had all their vax but in the spring need to be neutered and spayed. Sooo happy to see all of you out there that are trying to help these innocent little animals survive!Thanks for all you do!

Response to Kitty Beth Austin

You should borrow a "Have a Heart Trap" from a vet or shelter and trap her and bring her inside. They are easy & safe to use. If you feel bad ask someone else to help you with the process. (cat lovers always help) Keep the kitty closed in one (with food & litter box) room to get used to inside, then eventually open the door to allow them to explore their new surroundings.This may take a week up to a few months for them to venture out. This room will always be a safe haven for the cat to retreat. OR you can make a shelter with an exit & entrance cut out. I had a ferral that would only use a box with the front & back cut out for his escape.
—Guest Denise from NJ

In over my head - need advice plz

Hi all - I have found myself caring for a colony of about 15 feral cats at the apartment complex where I live. The complex does not allow us to feed them, but the cats have stolen my heart and I do it discreetly anyway. I am SO worried about the cats in snow and freezing temperature. My apartment complex would evict me if I put a shelter out for them. I've resorted to leaving my garage open They're all in there now. (My husband is NOT happy. ) Is this sufficient? I am definitely in over my head with these cats - need help. Thanks for any advice you can give me! I am so sad for the cats all the time.
—Guest ColonyKeeper on the DL

Ferral Cat Houses

I help with colonies and have several ferral cats outside my home. I turned my kids old fort into an enclosed house for the outside cats with a front and back escape. Some cats wont use houses with only one entrance/exit.I also put outdoor heating pads in their cat bed (K&H product is energy efficient) by cutting out the beds insulation & slipping the pad inside.They love it. I also have a 10 yr old cat who was completely ferral for 2 yrs but sleeps in my garage & she also loves the heated pad. (she has the soft one). I make houses for colonies with a 35 gallon latching tub but inside I put an insulated tub ( large white foam cooler type that CVS gives me from their shipment of drugs) with straw. Cut an entrance hole in the front and cover with clear plastic putting a slit down the middle for cat entrance. Three cats can fit in this.
—Guest Denise from NJ


Hi, I live in an apartment complex that does not permit feeding the feral cats but they have stolen my heart and I do it anyway. I have found myself responsible for a colony of about 15 ferals. I feed them discreetly every day but would be evicted for putting up any kind of cat shelter. I am so worried about them on these cold nights though. I've resorted to leaving my garage door open a crack. Is this sufficient? Any tips for someone who is caring for ferals on the down-low? Need help. Thank you.
—Guest colony keeper on the DL

Feral cat

I have an old dog house with a reflective heat pad. I bought a microwave "pillow" that retains heat for several hours.
—Guest Pam F

Feral Kitten

I have a feral kitten that I used a humane trap to capture in a busy parking lot at my office. I took him had him neutered, shots and med care and relocated him 7 miles to my back porch. He is now about 6 months, I was feeding his mom when she was pregnant but mine was the only survivor after 6 months out of 5. I took a copy paper box taped newspaper on all sides, taped plastic on all sides then put in a black garbage bag and taped it down. Cut a door in the one side and filled with straw. It was 11degrees here this morn but when I went out to feed him, he was toasty warm. My baby kitty now allows me, and loves me to hold him in my lap and scratch his ears. He will come into the house just into the kitchen then runs back out. I am hoping he will soon live indoors but it has been a long road to get here. He is more trusting of me now. I feed him in a dog igloo I purchased and is filled with straw and heated bowls. He prefers to live in the box tucked under my porch tho.
—Guest MyBabyKitty

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