Feral cats suffer horribly over the winter, but after learning just a few simple tips, you can help feral cats thrive during the harsh, cold months ahead.
Just surviving the cold winter season can be especially challenging for feral cats. Finding a warm, dry place to spend the night can be extremely tough. Lacking the proper shelther, these cats can suffer from serious health issues such as frostbite and hypothermia. The need for outdoor cat houses becomes absolutely necessary just to survive these harsh conditions.
If you are a crazy cat lover who wants to provide shelter to homeless cats in your neighborhood or backyard, this article will give you some helpful tips to keep feral cats warm, dry and fed during the frosty winter season.
Set up an outdoor shelter:
People who want to help stray cats in winter can build an inexpensive outdoor house for feral cats in their backyard. The homemade shelter will be an affordable option for you if you can’t buy it from the market.
You can make their winter shelter using available materials such as Styrofoam, wood pallets or flower pots. Rubber made storage containers also make a great outdoor shelter. Make a cozy outdoor space in your backyard where the feral cats can safely spend their days and nights in winter.
Make the shelter insulated:
Once you have built an outdoor shelter for stray cats, it is time to make it insulated. You can use straws so that their body can stay warm. You must provide bedding in the feral cat shelter to prevent them from getting cold.
Ensure that the shelter is raised from the ground. In this way, it will be easier for you to insulate it. You have to add straws throughout the harsh winter months for their convenience. To avoid the direct impact of chilly wind, make sure the shelter’s entrance should face any fence or wall.
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Setup warming pads in the shelter:
If you whole-heartedly want to help stray cats, it will be a generous effort to buy the warming pads for the feral cats. In this way, the cats will enjoy the cold nights with extra heat. It will help if you reheat these pads after a couple of hours. You can easily find these heating pads at an affordable price to be placed in the cat’s shelter.
Make use of a heated pet bowl:
To prevent wet food and water from freezing, you must use a heated bowl for a feral cat. The plastic containers are not suitable because they get cracked in winter and also the water in them freezes.
So you have to use a heated bowl for outdoor feral cats. You can insulate the water dishes with the help of Styrofoam; otherwise, water will become frozen. Apart from feeding the feral cats, you must provide them fresh water every day to prevent dehydration.
Regularly check your cat’s shelter:
When you have built a shelter for feral cats, you must check it regularly. Ensure that the cat is staying warm and dry. Avoid using fabric blankets because they absorb moisture in winter.
Check for the shelter if they need anything for their survival. Please make sure you add straws every time you visit their shelter because these will absorb moisture keeping feral cats warm.
Provide food and water every day:
You should provide food and water to feral cats every day because water in the bowl will freeze overnight. Provide the feral cats fresh food and water every morning to fulfill their energy requirements.
Give them extra food because cats eat extra food during cold winter months to conserve their energy for survival. The cats utilize most of their energy to keep themselves warm that’s why they need more food in winter.
Build-up a cat feeding station:
If you are extra conscious about feral cats, you can set up a feeding station so that they can enjoy their meal in the winter months. Ensure the feeding station is set up at some distance from the shelter; otherwise, it will create competition and fights among other cats.
Frequently check your feeding station for maintenance and take out the empty bowls. Clean the feeding station regularly to prevent diseases.
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Be prepared for snowstorms:
Snowstorms are common in winter when the temperature drops below the freezing point. This kind of destructive weather makes life challenging for feral cats. The winter season comes with harsh snowstorms where the snow gets accumulated everywhere.
To deal with the challenging situation, check for weather forecast and serve the feral cat extra food and water. In this way, she will survive during the strong snowstorm.
Clear the snow from the shelter:
Once the snowstorm has ended, you are responsible for clearing the snow from the feral cat’s shelter. Clear the snow from the entrance of her shelter to make it easier for her to move around.
You have to shovel out the snow from every entrance and exit to make life easier for the feral cat. Avoid using chemicals to clear the snow because they can be poisonous for the cat.
Things to keep in mind during winter:
- In the winter season, feral cats are searching for a warm place everywhere, and it is commonly seen that the cats hide underneath any vehicle to keep themselves warm. It is a good idea to look for feral cats before you start your car; otherwise, they may get hurt.
- Usually, snow gets accumulated around your house and backyard after a snowstorm. Most people unknowingly use salt or other chemicals to melt the snow, but they are unaware that if she licks off her paws, this can lead to toxicity. Make sure you use pet-friendly products to clear the snow.
- It is bad idea to use antifreeze because this can be poisonous for cats. Even a very small amount can put her life in danger. The most common cause for the death of stray cats in winter is from using antifreeze. If you have used or transported antifreeze around your property, you have to clean the entire area to protect the life of feral cats.
How to convince a feral cat to use the shelter?
Feral cats will take some time to get attracted to the outdoor shelter you have built in the backyard. However, it is very easy to make the feral cat use the shelter you have made for her. The cat will not use your shelter if other animals come around the shelter.
Ensure there is a clear exit hole on the opposite side of the shelter because cats always look for the spot from where they can make a quick escape. You have to be patient because she will take some time to look over the new house before she uses it.
Ensure that there is no human interaction around their shelter; otherwise, the feral cats will not use it.
Feral cats face a tough time in the winter season because they have no place to live. Cold weather makes their survival difficult, and they are always in search of a warm and cozy place. If you are a cat lover, you must play your part to help feral cats in winter by setting up shelter in your backyard. A sudden temperature drop makes her fall ill in the winter season. So, it would help if you make an outdoor shelter for feral cat to protect her from snowy and chilly winter months.