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need input on winter housing idea

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
My bf is about to make 2 winter shelters for the ferals. However I wanted to run this by you guys to make sure we're not making any mistakes.

He found two wooden cabinets - one is like a bedside cabinet and the other was the base of a fishtank which is very big and on its side will hold quite a few cats.

He plans to tape up the actual doors on both and cut 2 holes in each for their doorway. (I read here not to have them on opposite sides due to cold winds and to have the holes a few inches off the ground in case of flooding). He is going to insulate them with actual insulation - with silver backing. (dont know if this will scare the cats or if they would scratch it...or if its even healthy for them to breathe.... just thoughts.). I have cushiony insulation (came from a box at work) but same thing - dont know if the cats would eat it.

Then because the cats need to be hidden he is going to spray paint the cabinets - (one is white) with green and brown paint.... again dont know if paint would be bad for them. Although i dont think they will be ready to move in any time soon - but just in case.

I dont know if this is a good idea becuase i keep reading to use straw etc - he wants to put carpet in both for the flooring...

any imput/ideas???
- thanks again
post #2 of 9
That's a great idea to recycle items. Not sure about the insulation part. Did you see this thread? Here a home insulation was used that resembles foam board. You can use a stryafoam cooler also.

We use the rubbermaid boxes. I try to elevate the box off the ground some to keep the cold from transferring to the box. You can get those thin foil looking emergency blankets sold in camping or auto sections to line the inside for extra insulation. We used straw. Plentiful now at garden centers.

I bought cheap spray paint in green, brown and black. I sprayed in random patterns to resemble a camouflage pattern. Worked well.

Great ideas. Would love to see how it turns out.
post #3 of 9
sounds like you're on the right track! is the insulation the 'cotton candy' fiberglass or is it rigid insulation? i guess either will work but the cotton candy is obviously trickier. the rigid stuff is easier to work with and probably stands up to cats better. the silver lining is also great, as it will reflect the cat's body heat back to it.

i never know how much a cat is likely to scratch at the walls tho, i line my boxes with wool/polyester 'disaster' blanket, to protect the insulation beneath, but that might not even be necessary.

the carpet is fine but there should be an additional insulation source, hence the recommendations for straw. the aqarium cbainet sounds pretty big, so unless 10 cats all pile in, they'll need something to fill up the space to better contain their heat.
post #4 of 9
Sounds like this will work great!

If the insulation is going on the inside, it must be rigid insulation. I would avoid the fiberglass stuff altogether.

Straw is MUCH better than carpet. Do you plan on removing the carpet for cleaning? It gets wet, mildews, makes a great home for bugs, germs, etc. Carpet also provides no insulation. Straw, on the other hand, is a great insulator. And it can be tossed out as necessary and replaced. Being halloween, it shouldn't be too hard to find a bale or two somewhere. Store them under a tarp!

post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
THANKS!! I knew this was the place to ask.

LDG - why do you not advice using fiberglass - is it because of them scratching into it or the inhaling of it???

Yeah I dont want to clean it too often - i wasnt sure about the carpet - ill let him know about the straw.

THANKS - cant wait to get it finished and outside. After that the hard part will be moving them to it - we worked out a place but it will be a few weeks to get them from the edge of the woods were they basically are now to the place the shelter will be - its a long way - but ive moved them this far. i just have to hope they dont go all the way back to the first yard again. Also they will be pretty much in my backyard - so i can keep a better eye on them everyday - but i have to make sure they dont follow me or go into MY parking lot.... so much to worry about
post #6 of 9
Originally Posted by m935 View Post
LDG - why do you not advice using fiberglass - is it because of them scratching into it or the inhaling of it???
Yes. The first year we worked with ferals, there was one little kitten that was SO nasty to the others, we deemed him unadoptable, so didn't foster him, but got him neutered and continued to feed him with the colony. (Well, actually he was so mean to the other cats he actually sent two of them to the hospital needing stitches, and we had to actually feed him away from the rest of the colony). He would hiss and spit at us. But we kept feeding him. That winter, it snowed in October and there was snow on the ground the entire season. In fact, he got buried under two feet of snow hiding in a groundhog hole (where he was born, so when he didn't turn up for food, hubby knew where to try digging out the snow. Thankfully he was right). He didn't come out when hubby dug out that snow, but within an hour there were little footprints heading down to the food.

It was a few days after that he headbumped Gary. He wasn't staying in one of the shelters we built, but was close, because every time we opened the door, he'd come running. But he was turning up with little bits of yellow fluff on him - so we knew he was buried into insulation somewhere.

When it went to below zero for two weeks in January we took him to a newly opened cat-only boarding facility - the lady knew he was feral. We visited him every 2 - 3 days. He'd been there about two weeks when she called to say "there's something wrong with your cat. He keeps peeing on the carpet." HELLO? UTI? So we got him to the vet. He wouldn't eat - but every time we visited, he LEAPT into Gary's arms. After treating him for the UTI, the vet said - there's nothing wrong with him. He's obviously bonded with you - and if you want him to live, you have to take him home. We did - and he is the cutest, sweetest kitty. He fit right in with the other 3 (at the time) with no hassles at all. (He's our black & white kitty, the one named oh so creatively, "Tuxedo." ).

About a year later, he became really, really ill. It took a while to figure it out, and he almost died several times in the process. It took three years to get him stabilized. Turns out to be an "autoimmune" disease where his body thinks his red blood cells are a virus and attacks them. The vet says he does not believe the insulation has anything to do with this illness because of the length of time before it developed, but wouldn't necessarily rule it out. But it was definitely not a disease from a parasite - and the other three cats were his brothers and sister, and if it's a genetic problem, he's the only one with it.

So VERY long answer. Doubt his illness has anything to do with the insulation, but he definitely lived in it for about four months. Which is why we recommend both the board-type insulation and another reason we recommend straw - they obviously like to kind of bury into that nest.

post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 
My bf is almost finished with the bigger shelter - thats actually why he got 2 in case some cats didnt get along with others. He did end up putting the yellow insulation with the silver backing in it - i didnt want to say anything because he was almost finished when i came home and I knew hed have a fit if I told him he had to rip it out. But the bottom has nothing - I told him I would get straw for that. ONly thing is he drilled 2 holes for the cats enterance - i can get the straw in before we take it out- but i dont know that Ill ever get it out once its outside. (the holes arent big enough to get it all - plus to be honest with you... i would be too freaked out thinking what could be in the straw to clean it out) Is that ok? to just let it go??? I mean the cats wont urinate in it - will they???

That was such a sweet story - how the cat jumped to your husband. I have to say though I wasnt sure where you were going at some points and was worried it was going to have a bad ending.

I caught my 13th and 14th last night!!!! 2 females - Last week I caught nothing and i wish i did because it was feral cat day and I wanted to celebrate in some way....
post #8 of 9
a smart cat won't use his shelter as a litterbox, so i wouldn't worry about that too much. you should be able to leave the straw for the duration of the season, assuming all goes well, so i wouldn't worry about that too much. would you be able to open up the original cabinet doors to get at it, even if it means taking screws out or something? come spring you can crack it open to remove the old straw.

i think the insulation should be fine, i assume it's stapled to the walls with the silver backing facing in so it shouldn't be too much of a problem.

congratulations on the trapping! it does seem like you get them in streaks, sometimes nobody shows up, other times they seem to leap into the traps!
post #9 of 9
I agree - should be fine. Thanks for reading all the way through that post!

At some point you may want to consider sticking on gloves and just putting some more straw in there - if they're using them, it'll get mashed down.

You are doing SUCH an awesome job!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Looks like you caught up on being able to celebrate feral cat day.

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