Snaggle Foot Dog Walks and Pet Care-Round Lake, IL
We are now getting into the colder months and if you happen to see outdoor cats roaming around, you might be thinking about how you can help these outdoor cats stay alive in the winter months.
Here is some information that will help you if you want to help them.
Providing Shelter for Outdoor Cats:
Cats don’t need a lot of space, just a space that is large enough for
them to stand and move about and stay safe from the harshest outdoor
elements. When the weather is at its coldest, the cats will be relying
on each other for warmth, and will create their own tight spaces within
their shelter. With that in mind, you can use whatever space and
materials available to you to create a small haven.
Homemade shelters can be crafted out of nearly anything: from a
sturdy cardboard box to an anchored plastic garbage can to a few pieces of
scrap wood that have been arranged as a buffer
against the wind and snow and rain. The shelter should be large enough
to accommodate several cats comfortably, but not too wide or tall. In
fact, the smaller the size, the better the space will be equipped to
retain the cats’ body heat.
When creating the entry opening into the shelter, keep in mind that
the opening should only be large enough to allow a cat to enter, so that
as much of the wind and snow stay outside of the shelter as possible
and the interior of the shelter remains dry. If space allows, you can
create an awning or plastic “curtain” to shield the entry. Plastic
sheeting or heavy garbage bags are quick and inexpensive options for
this. If it is not possible to cover the opening, you can try placing
the shelter close to a wall, with the entry facing the wall.
If you are able to put a little more work and material into the
shelter, try adding insulation to the interior roof and walls of the
structure and line the seams of the shelter with caulk so that it is as
draft free as possible. Also, elevate the shelter off of the ground to
prevent ground moisture from seeping into the floor of the shelter. Of
course, you do not want the shelter to be entirely sealed. Some amount
of ventilation is necessary, perhaps as some small holes along the
bottom of the structure. Bedding material can be added, but blankets and
towels are not a practical idea, since they can get wet and moldy and
can even freeze, making them unusable. Straw is an excellent material,
since it does not hold onto excess moisture, and helps to retain heat, however, make sure it is straw not hay. Hay can cause allergic reactions in cats.
Finally, be sure to locate the shelter in a safe, concealed spot
where the cats feel securely hidden from predators and can watch their
Food and Water Access:
The cats will require extra calories and fat during the cold weather
months in order to maintain their energy requirements. If you can
inspire your neighbors to be involved in the project, even if only
through drop off donations of food to the designated “feeder of the
cats,” the project will have a much better outcome. A dry kitten formula
is an excellent source of extra calories and balanced nutrition. Canned cat foods are also a great source of high calorie nutrition, but
because of their higher liquid content they may freeze during the
Feeding and water stations should be protected from the cold and
placed as near to the sleeping shelter as possible so that the cats do
not have to be exposed to harsh conditions when they need to eat or
Feeding the cats at the same time each day will allow them to expect
and rely on a schedule. If they do not know whether they will be eating
or not, they will venture out into the cold to look for food, defeating
the whole purpose for the care project. Having a dedicated “feeder,” or a
small group of scheduled “feeders” who take turns, can make the process
much smoother. Also important to the cats’ survival is fresh, clean
water. Of course, snow is an excellent source for water, but don't
forget to check the water bowl regularly to make sure it hasn’t frozen
during the night.
So if you are living in an area where you see outdoor cats quite often, these are just some wonderful tips to help them get through the cold winter months.