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

Responses: 145


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. Share your Best Tips


We have a feral cat "Kittyhawk" We bought a house for her with ahead pad but with temps down to 20 below zero it wasn't enough. Our pad doesn't heat well enough so I bought an electric blanket and wrapped her house in it and padded it in such a way that she cannot c claw it. She looks great and has survived so far a terribly cold unstoppable winter. We keep her food away from where she sleeps. She is mostly blind and knows how to get to the food. She is still catching mice!

Warmth for the colder winter nites

I started placing 18hr hand/body warmers inside the tube and the 3 feral cats that have adopted me seem to be fine during the unusually cold nights we have had in the DC area. I generally put them in around 5p and sometimes the next evening they are still warm to the touch. I have also wrapped the tube with the insulation for hot water heaters. Hope this helps
—Guest Belinda

home made cat shelter

I use covered kitty litter boxes or plastic storage boxes. Cut a hole in the plastic storage box by the corner large enough for a cat to enter. Buy large gap spray foam and spray all four sides. I build up a strip of spray foam by each side of the entrance to block wind from going in. Then I cut foam board for the bottom and top and use spray foam to glue them down. The top foam board I cut about 2 inches larger than the box. The side of the box where the entrance is, the foam board is cut about 3 to 4 inches larger so rain and snow can't enter the opening. I use Kuddle Kups and mats for bedding. I put Kuddle Kups on top of the mats so when the cats knead and claw through the bottom of the Kups, there's still a layer of the mats for warmth. I have 6 feral cats now for a few years, and they seem to do well in NJ weather with my set up for them.
—Guest C.Chen


Hi, there is a dark furred Bengal that has recently occupied my crawl space. I would just try togo in and get it but I don't know what it'd do in that situation and everywhere inside is too narrow for me. I lay food out and water. I think it might have rabies because while it just wulfs down the food I can't tell for sure if it's even taken a sip of the water. I check on it between one and fifteen hours, depending on if I pass out or am busy. I have an old dog house that I put up near the biggest entrance to the crawlspace, very thick blankets and insulation and tried putting the food in there but every time I went out when I did that it was never touched, same when I put it just outside the entrance. I don't want to keep putting the food and water passed the entrance because I'm afraid it will think that's how it goes all the time and never leave and I will need a place to take it because I can't a pet right now. Are there like any people that specialize in removing cats from crawlspc
—Guest Sid


If some one wishes to be updated with newest technologies then he must be go to see this web page How do you keep your feral cats from freezing in winter weather - reader suggestions and be up to date all the time. www.moncler.com http://www.moncler.arkis.it/
—Guest www.moncler.com

Coleman or other brands Camping Cooler

I purchased used Camping Coolers off of Kijiji, my husband took a jig saw, cut a 6" hole, I put blankets inside, washable,and the cooler is washable! The "farm cats" love them.....dry, warm, cosy with 2 or more cats inside. Optional, you can use a piece of rounded plastic off of a bleach bottle, to put an awning on.....
—Guest MJ

to Kitty Helper

I hope you change the newspaper (because that gets soggy and wet) to straw and the blankets also.


We have a stray living in our garage. I made a house for her outta a cardboard box and like 15 layers of material around it and polar fleece and thermal material on the inside. Her house is inside a workbench cupboard up off the ground about a foot. I bring warm water out to her every evening and she has 2 bowls full of dry food that I keep full. Once in awhile I will bring some warmed up cream out for her to kinda warm her up. Her little shelter is inside a shelter inside a garage. It has been getting down to -12 to -15 and I want to make sure she is staying warm. Can anyone else give me some advice on what to do better to make her more cozy? Thank you
—Guest Heather

use a sleeping bag

I have a feral cat that I adopted and tamed about 3 years ago. She lives on my front porch. I have one of those heated pads for her but with the recent extreme cold I was worried that it wasn't enough. I bought an inexpensive sleeping bag for her - great idea! I have it on my cushioned patio furniture - it's out of the wind and she burrows into it and she is very warm and content!
—Guest judy

Outdoor cat bedding

I read a number of posts from readers who take care of feral or stray cats, which is simply wonderful. However, a lot of them talk about winter shelters and the materials they use for bedding. Please understand that cats, like humans, can lose body heat rapidly when they are wet. Because a dry bed is an absolute necessity, particularly in winter, old blankets or towels should NEVER be used. The one thing that will not retain moisture is STRAW. Not hay! And not any old clothing or sheets. If you want to make a relatively cheap and warm bed for kitty this winter, try the following. Get an 18 to 20 gallon plastic bin with a lid (like the ones Totes makes). Measure, cut and line the top, bottom and sides of the bin with rigid foam insulation, 1/2 to 1" (adhere w/ double-backed carpet tape). Line the bottom with a layer of Mylar. Fill generously with straw. Cut a 6" round "entrance." Put it somewhere the cat usually goes. Get 3 cinder blocks (4" thick), 2 for the bottom and 1 on top.

Feral Cat

I live in Florida and I am feeding a feral cat who is declawed. He stays in the woods along side of my house. I would like to what kind of shelter I can give him. There are raccoons and snakes etc. I hope you can help me. Thank You know what kind of shelter I can give him since there are raccoons and snakes. know what kind of shelter I can give him to keep him warm we are having very cool evenings, but I do not know what kind of shelter that will protect him because there are raccoons and snakes I would like to know what kind of shelter I can give him I hope you can help me Thank You.
—Guest Kathy

Use Mylar Emergency Blankets

ER Emergency Ready Thermal Mylar Blankets, Pack of 4 - sold by Amazon around $6.00 They are very generous in size - line anything and everything with them inside and out and they do work! The cat will not lay directly on it but if you manage to incorporate these mylar liners into your shelter you will gain significant warmth even if the shelter has holes. We live in Michigan, right now it is -34 (not kidding!). My feral is in her cooler box shelter with a heater pad and the mylar sheets and it is actually WARM inside. Obviously, try to shelter from direct wind and when you have extreme temperatures (Farenheit drops into negative), try to get them an electric heater pad. They run between $40-50 but they might save lives!
—Guest SKelly

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

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