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Feeding ferals During sub zero temps

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I've been feeding two adult and two about 6 month old ferals everyday at 8:00 p.m. I put out two bowls of kitten food mixed with one can of food in each bowl. I figured kitten food might give them extra fat to get them through the winter. It's been so cold schools have been closed. Is there anything extra I could feed them to keep their bodies better able to get through this extra cold time? I don't know where they live but they are very feral. They show up on my porch every night at about 7:45 ready for their dinner. My condo has strict rules about taking care of ferals so I can't put housing outside for them. So all I can do is put the bowls out at 8:00 and take in the empty bowls back in at 8:30.

A co-worker said to put bacon grease in with the food to give them extra fat which would help them. Before I tried this I wanted to make sure it wouldn't make the cats sick. Several months ago I was able to get one of the kittens in my house and now he is a very much loved and spoiled house cat. I really want to make sure his clan survives this harsh winter.

Thanks for any advice on how to do this.
post #2 of 12
The kitten food is a great idea - it has higher amounts of protein and calories, which are so important in this extreme weather. If possible, use the highest quality food that you can. I would NOT use any kind of bacon grease - it could be difficult for the cats to digest, and if it makes them vomit they'll have lost not only the benefit of the regurgitated food, but precious liquid that they need to stay hydrated.

Unless they won't eat the wet food without it, I would use only a little of the dry. Dry food uses up lots of water during digestion. The cats need to stay hydrated, and the water content in canned food will help.

If you're not already doing this, put bowls of warm water out as soon as the cats show up to give them the chance to drink before the water freezes. You can also offer some warm, plain chicken broth (make sure it does NOT contain onions).

Is there anyplace you could put a small shelter in a hidden spot? Maybe under some dense shrubs, or in an adjacent wooded area if there is one?

Thank you so much for helping these poor babies. I can't imagine what it's like being unable to escape such terrrible cold.

I'm so glad you were able to adopt one of the kittens - what a lucky little guy! When the weather improves a little (soon, I hope), please start to TNR them (trap-neuter-release) so you won't have 20 hungry mouths to feed rather than 4!!!
post #3 of 12
There is no way you could accidently drop some old blankets nearby? I bet if you could post a photo of your situation (porch and surroundings), somebody here will have an idea/answer for you.
post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 
KTLynn,I would really love to do a TNR with these cats. I had gotten them used to us to the point that they would come into my house, as long as the screen door stayed open a few inches, to eat their dinner. That was my goal. But I could not find any vets in this area that would do this free of charge. Being a single Mom with a grandson that I'm also raising I can't afford to get them all their shots and get them spayed or neutered.

I do put out a bowl of water with their food, but I never thought about the fact that wet food would be better for the hydration factor. The water bowl always seems to be just as full as when I put it out. I boiled some chicken for soup, my kids love chicken soup and I make lots of it during the winter. I put aside some of the chicken to add to the canned food for extra protein for them.

Persi, my home is a townhouse with a very small porch. Just a 4' by4' block of cement. I have three very large pots for plants that I have beside the porch. Thank you for the idea! I put them near the porch and put a waterproof tarp over them. Leaving a space for the cats. Under the tarp I put a folded up blanket on the bottom and a blanket under the tarp above the heads of the cats should they choose to go in there. This weekend I'm going to put some hay in there as well. I just hope it doesn't snow. When it does there is just a huge amount of cat tracks already going up to my porch and around my very small front yard. I'm the center in a group of 12 townhouses I wish I could somehow get these cats used to going to my back door. If they did I could provide them with much more than I'm able to do for them with them being in the front. Everyone sees the front, almost no one sees the back.

Any ideas on how I could get them to go to the back of my house? It's a long way around either way.

Thanks for any ideas.
post #5 of 12
Originally Posted by resturgis View Post
Any ideas on how I could get them to go to the back of my house? It's a long way around either way.
In winter it will be harder because of the snow. I've moved the feeding stations by doing it gradually over time to the new location. Move it about 6 feet then leave it there for a little while. Then another 6 feet and so on.

Irony: I moved my feeding station from my back yard to my front porch!!

I also have a heated water bowl for mine. They don't heat the water, just prevent it from freezing.

If you PM Katie (TNR1), she has all kinds of links to low cost spay/neuter clinics across the country. You don't want to start feeding entire families!!
post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
[quote=Momofmany;1582333]In winter it will be harder because of the snow. I've moved the feeding stations by doing it gradually over time to the new location. Move it about 6 feet then leave it there for a little while. Then another 6 feet and so on.

Irony: I moved my feeding station from my back yard to my front porch!!

Thanks for the idea but I live in a townhouse that is in the middle of twelve townhouses. I would have to put food bowls in front of other peoples homes and if I were to get caught doing this I would get a huge fine. You did give me a good idea though. Since I had gotten them used to comming in the house to eat, even though at that time it was just a couple of feet, now I'm going to start that up again. But this time getting them to come in a little further each time until they are out the back door.

Thanks for giving me this idea!
post #7 of 12
Hay or straw is the best thing to use in any type of shelter you can provide.
Don't use blankets or any other type of linens, though, because they absorb moisture and can become virtually blocks of ice.

Momofmany had a great suggestion about PM'ing TNR1. She may be able to find a low cost S/N (or maybe even a free) program in your area. Please contact her as soon as you can so you can get going on TNR. With only 4 kitties (at the moment!) it's a very "do-able" situation.

You're doing a wonderful thing for these cats & kittens - they are so fortunate to have someone like you to care about them!
post #8 of 12

C-SNIP (Community Spay/Neuter Initiative Partnership)
Serves Kent County and adjacent counties
Grand Rapids MI
Web: www.csnip.org
Low cost mobile clinic for pets of people with low income.

West Michigan SPCA
Muskegon MI

Silver Lake Animal Rescue League
Dixie Highway
Waterford, MI
248-545-6583, extension 5 This organization has a program for spay/neuter of pets of low income people in metropolitan Detroit.

Long Lake Animal Hospital
5044 John R Road
Troy, MI 48098

Humane Society of Huron Valley
Ann Arbor, MI

Kalamazoo Humane Society
4239 South Westnedge
Kalamazoo, MI
Provides some assistance for the spay/neuter of pets of qualifed low income people.

Animal's Best Friend
PO Box 443
Oshtemo, MI 49077
For pets living in Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties, ABF provides small subsidies at particular veterinary clinics each month. Call for details.

Zimmer Foundation
PO Bx 130944
Ann Arbor MI 48113
For feral cats in Washtenaw County.
post #9 of 12
Good luck with these cats, I hope you are able to provide them with some kind of shelter.

Sending hugs and prayers from Mississippi for you.

post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
KTLynn, I hadn't thought about the moisture, It's been really cold here lately but no snow,Yet. Tonight we're supposed to get around six inches and when that starts to melt it's going to be a mess in there. I'll have to get some hay. Thanks for letting me know about that before everything became a soggy or frozen mess.

Thanks for the list TNR1, the place in Waterford says it serves people in metro Detroit so I'll try that one first.

Thank you for the hugs and prayers LSULOVER!
post #11 of 12
I'm in Philadelphia--we've had a mild winter that turned bitterly cold in February, with an ice storm this past week. Tuesday daytime temperatures are supposed to go back into the upper 30s and 40s--positively balmy!

Ennyhoo, because I work during the day I'm able to feed only when I get home. That's after 5PM, so the sun's already going down and the temperatures are falling. I've fed my cats daily with the following regimen--I give them dry food and replace the block of ice in their water bowl with hot water.

Dry food is better than wet in sub-freezing temperatures as the cats can eat when they want to. Wet food would freeze into a solid block within an hour or two. Hot water also doesn't last long but it gives them an opportunity to eat and then drink for a few hours.

When the temperature rises above freezing I'll give them a dry/wet mix and continue with the hot water--and pray for an early spring....
post #12 of 12
ipw533 , my ferals are ready and waiting to eat when I make my "rounds", so I've not had problems feeding canned food. Soon as I put the plates down, the kitties are diving in. If you feed your cats consistently on a schedule they'll be there, especially in cold weather when eating becomes serious business. For example, Resturgis's cats are waiting every night by 7:45 for their 8pm dinner, so like me, she's able to feed them wet food. I'm surprised your cats aren't waiting for you since it sounds like you feed pretty much the same time most days.

Dry food loses much of its nutritional value as soon as it's exposed to air. The other problem with leaving it out is that it attracts wildlife who catch on very fast to where and when the food is put down. They may end up getting the food rather than the cats, or in the case of raccoons, fighting over it with them, sometimes with terrible consequences. I also worry about potential health problems that can occur with an exclusively dry diet, such as urinary blockages. That's a condition that can quickly become life-threatening if not treated quickly, which is very difficult, if not impossible to do when it occurs in a feral cat.

Still, if dry food is the only option in your particular circumstance, it's certainly better than no food at all.

Best of luck to you and your cats - hope we'll soon see the end of this awfully cold weather!
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