How to build a safe, warm feral-cat shelter

National Feral Cat Day is this Sunday, Oct. 16, and Petfinder is joining with Alley Cat Allies to raise awareness about feral cats, promote Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR), and recognize feral-cat caretakers.

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The perch at the front entrance allows feral cats to sun themselves.

Our house came complete with feral cats (also sometimes called community and neighborhood cats) when we moved in, and we have cared for them ever since. (Read about my neighborhood cat colony here.)

In honor of National Feral Cat Day, I’m posting my husband’s short video tour of our feral-cat houses, as well as our annual “changing of the straw” to prepare our feral colony for a cold Northeastern winter. After trapping, altering, vaccinating and returning feral cats to their place of origin, maintaining a healthy and safe colony is an important part of our
relationship with neighborhood cats.

Watch our video above and see important tips for keeping a feral-cat colony well-cared-for after the jump.


If you’re interested in helping your neighborhood cats, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Build your feral cats homes that stay dry and accessible in any weather.
    If your area gets a lot of snow or rain, build the houses on stilts
    (like in the video) so the doors don’t get buried by heavy snowfall and
    water doesn’t get in during summer rains.
  • Include two entrances in your cat houses. Cats need an easy escape route so that predators and bully cats can’t easily trap them in their homes.
  • Make sure your cats’ houses are accessible to you. Build your feral cat houses so you can easily get in and clean them every year, or to help an injured cat if you need to.
  • Make any repairs and change the straw before it gets cold. Few cats like change, so give your cats time to acclimate to the new smells before winter hits.
  • Give your cats access to fresh water — a rare commodity in low temperatures. A heated water bowl ($20-30) allows for unfrozen water all winter long. (Learn more about how to prevent freezing water for feral cats here.)

Feral cats often go unnoticed and uncared-for in neighborhoods and
industrial areas, allowing them to increase wildly in numbers, which can
lead to complaints and drastic actions. Practicing TNR and maintaining a
well-cared-for colony will keep the cats as happy and healthy as
possible. Ensuring they are not creating more cats will keep your
neighborhood happy too.


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You might also like:

Feral Cat Care and TNR: A Beginner’s Guide

TNR – The Humane Alternative

How to Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) Feral Cats

Winter Care and Safety for Feral Cats

How to Prevent Freezing Water

Helping Abandoned, Stray Cats and Kittens

Caring for Litters of Stray Kittens

Junkyard Cats

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