How to Build Feral-Cat Shelters

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The following is an excerpt from the Petfinder Blog.

By Sara Kent, Petfinder outreach team

 

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.)

Here is 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.

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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