With the winter weather fast approaching a lot of us have talked about finding shelters for the feral cats. The wooded area does provide them with some shelter from the snow and rain but it isn't enough and we would like to provide them with something that has a roof with insulation to help keep them warm.
Theresa mentioned that we should check craigslist for used dog houses, Brenda told me that her brother would donate his time into building something for them and Darlene thought maybe we could get the Boy Scouts involved and they could build us one. These are all great ideas and I think we should start looking into this more and getting these shelters out there before our first snow fall.
Here is a link to Lehigh Valley Craigslist if someone would like to check it periodically for dog houses or shelters that people are giving away for free or selling at a minimal cost.
There are many sites online that provide instructions on how to build shelters or where you can buy them already made. Here are just a few:
- Inexpensive Cat Shelter
- Styrofoam Shelter
- Outdoor Cat Shelters and Feeding Station
- Feral Villa (already made)
Below are some interesting tips that I came across when researching cat shelters:
- Depending on predators and other animals/hazards in our area, some cats may not go into the shelter unless there are 2 exits. One for them to sneak out should an unwanted animal enter.
- Place shelters where they will be protected from wind and snow drifts, particularly those without protective flaps over the doors - otherwise snow could blow in and bury/trap the cats.
- A cat's shelter will be warmer and cozier if you put loose insulating material inside. The material must be dry and loose, so the cats can burrow into and underneath it. Straw is best, while shredded newspaper will also work, and hardwood shavings (no cedar or pine). The worst are blankets, towels or folded newspaper, they retain moisture and because the cats can only lie on top of these materials, they actually draw out body heat and defeat the purpose. Hay, because it's moist, can become moldy and some cats are reportedly allergic to hay and can develop nasal sores. But do keep in mind, if you use insulating materials, you must be able to change them regularly in order to ensure they stay dry. If you can't, it's better to not put anything inside the shelter.
- The shelter should have an opening small enough to prevent dogs or other large animals from entering and a flap or L-shaped entryway to keep the cold air from blowing in. And bigger shelters are not necessarily better. The body heat generated by the cats huddling inside tends to disperse, leaving the interior of the shelter as cold as the weather outside. Ideally, the shelter should be small enough to transport in your vehicle to the colony site.
- The shelter should sit a few inches off the ground on bricks, blocks or pallets (wooden platforms used for unloading boxed goods) to keep it from becoming waterlogged. Shipping firms or hardware, farm or pet stores may be able to provide discarded pallets or offer advice on where to obtain them.
- To protect food and water from the elements, place them in a covered shelter that will also protect the cats as they eat or drink. A stand with a sloping roof, open on two sides and off the ground, may be all that is needed for several cats to eat together.
These links are also very helpful for getting them ready for winter: