It’s mid-winter and cat colonies are suffering from the cold and wet – make some winter shelters for your feral cats. Below are some DIY ideas to help protect vulnerable felines from the bitter winter weather.
The two most important things in creating any shelter are that it is waterproof, and that it is sheltered from the wind.
I’ve drawn these shelters from many different sources, which I will credit here – please check out the links for complete directions on construction. Of course, you can always purchase shelters online, but there is great satisfaction in building one from scratch. One word of caution, however. If the cat colony is not on your property, please make sure you have the landowner’s permission before setting up shelters. Some people consider a feral cat colony to be a nuisance and will object to any outside interference.
So, here are a few ideas:
STYROFOAM SHIPPING BOXES
Styrofoam shipping boxes can be found at supermarkets, fish stores and butcher shops. Even vaccines are packed in them, so your veterinarian might be a good source as well. These well insulated crates can be easily transformed into feral cat winter shelters.
(1) Using a utility knife or box cutter, open a doorway in one of the short sides of the box, approximately 6 inches by 6 inches. Keep the bottom of the doorway a few inches above ground level, to prevent flooding in the event of rain.
(2) Permanently attach the top cover to the main body of the box with silicone glue. The silicone will seal the lid and make the shelter waterproof.
(3) To camouflage and further protect the shelter, apply a coat of an appropriately colored deck paint.
Source: Neighborhood Cats – https://www.neighborhoodcats.org/how-to-tnr/colony-care/feral-cat-winter-shelter
TWO STORAGE CONTAINERS ONE INSIDE THE OTHER
This plan uses two plastic storage containers, one larger than the other. (This will provide space for insulation.) Make sure the smaller container will fit at least two cats comfortably. See the complete directions at the link below:
Source: Spay and Stay – https://www.spayandstay.org/winter-shelter/
ANOTHER SHELTER MADE FROM A PLASTIC STORAGE CONTAINER
This video is step-by-step instructions from a TNR group in Toronto, Canada, so you know the shelter has to be warm. Check it out.
Source: Toronto Street Cats – https://youtu.be/0BD80hXf01g
IF YOU’RE FEELING AMBITIOUS
Check out this video from Fiver Cats – (there is a link on the page directing you to the plans). Hint – watch the video without sound – I find the music to be more than a little nerve-wracking and there is no narration. Anyway, this is a project for a woodworker, but the finished product is amazing. It has a hinged roof for easy access, a front porch, and it’s on legs to keep it off the cold ground.
Source: Fiver Cats – https://youtu.be/gj4w5a6GRuQ
Feral cat colonies are a direct result of companion animals not being spayed or neutered. Providing warm shelter for these forgotten creatures is a remarkable kindness. Also, contact a local TNR (Trap, Neuter, Release) organization in your area for help. They may be able to prevent the colony from growing while protecting the health of the existing members. And, if you can afford it, offer to help defray some of the organization’s costs – maybe by paying for at least one animal to be spayed or neutered. If people work together, feral cat colonies can become a thing of the past – and all domestic cats will be in warm and comfy homes, where they always belonged.
NOTE: (Thanks to a reader.) Please make sure you fill the shelter with straw, not hay or cloth. Both hay and cloth get damp, and, when it does, creates more cold, not less. Straw sheds moisture and provides the best protection from the bitter cold.