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How to help feral cats in the wintertime

kittyHopefully, you and your kitties stayed safe and warm inside through all of the snow pummeling New York lately. However, have you ever seen pawprints in the snow and wished you could do something for those who must remain outdoors? We’d probably adopt them all if we could, but here’s what you can do to help your local feral felines without bringing them all inside your home.

Build a shelter

You don’t need advanced carpentry skills to build a shelter for feral cats. It’s relatively easy to modify a styrofoam cooler, plastic storage tote, or even an igloo from the petstore. A variety of plans are available on the Alley Cat Allies’ website and across the web. Just remember to insulate your shelter with straw (not hay) or styrofoam. Blankets, newspapers, and towels hold onto moisture and siphon away body heat.

Put down food

When you can, feed your local strays wet food, because it helps them to conserve energy during digestion. You can keep it from freezing by placing it in the far corner of a shelter. Kitties also intake most of their water through their diet, so dry food can cause them to spend more energy in search of liquid sustenance.

Provide fresh water

If you want to maintain a water dish for your local cats, choose a deep, dark colored bowl. Be sure to place it in a sunny place, ideally in a spot that’s guarded from the wind. Do not place the water inside of a shelter, though, because it can easily be knocked over. To keep the water from freezing, you can cover it in spray foam insulation.

Shovel for the little darlings

While you’re shoveling your property, also be sure to shovel a path from shelters or anywhere you’ve noticed that cats tend to hide. Sometimes cats can get snowed in their homes, too. If you see evidence of feline activity around your house, avoid putting down salt or chemical ice melts that can hurt their paws.

With a little extra care, you can make winter a little warmer for feral cats. Did you take any photos of pawprints in the snow? How about your cat watching the winter storm? Share your photos with us on Instagram!

Photo by Julie Krawczyk (German) on flickr

Candace Elise Hoes is a pet sitter and blogger at Katie’s Kitty. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts.

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