Tips on Caring for Feral Cats this Winter


With the coming of winter, many animal lovers are concerned about what happens to stray and feral cats in the cold weather.  Are there things we can do to help outdoor cats in our communities stay safe, warm, and dry in the winter months?  The Humane Society of the United States has some great advice on what concerned animal lovers can do to help stray and feral cats this winter. 

Here’s a quick summary…be sure to check their website for the full story!


Gimme Shelter

You can make shelters for the feral cats in your area.  Talk to local home improvement stores about getting scrap lumber, or you can re-purpose dog houses and even modify large rubber storage containers.  Many feral cat advocacy groups have detailed instructions on their websites.  Check out these ideas from Alley Cat Allies.

The idea of a shelter is to trap the cat’s body heat for warmth, so be sure not to make them too large.  You can put bedding materials like straw or pillow cases stuffed with newspaper in the shelter, just be sure to replace the bedding if it gets wet or dirty. 


Food and Water

Place food and water near the shelter.  You can place two shelters near each other and put the food between them, covering them with a board for protection from the elements.  Experts say it’s OK to place food bowls inside the shelter, but don’t put water bowls inside…they can easily tip over and wet the bedding.


Trap Neuter Return?

Should trap neuter return (TNR) programs be conducted in winter?  Some people are concerned about shaving a cat’s belly for spaying during the cold weather.  However, TNR can work well in the winter because there won’t be as many pregnant females as there are during spring and summer, and you can prevent those warm weather pregnancies before they happen.  Make sure shelters are in place when the altered cats come back from their surgeries.  Here’s some great how-to advice on TNR from Neighborhood Cats.


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  • AH Printing
Comments 3
  • Sharon Shoemaker McGinty
    Sharon Shoemaker McGinty

    My awesome brother has made shelter heated pads food and more for feral cats living outside his work building in Chicago!!

  • Donna

    We have 3 cats that live outside. Two were kittens in the fall, we tried to catch them, NOPE! These were someones kittens. Why do they think ( sorry they do not or would have had there cat fixed) they can just dump them! We also have an old man Tom who has been here for two winters. We are cat people so have built winter homes for many years. They know where they can go to get out of the weather and fill there tummies. Alberta, Canada can be very hard on our friends.

  • Kim

    I have made several cat houses out of plastic tubs. I put a Styrofoam cooler inside along with bedding. They all need a warm safe place to sleep.

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