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Feral Cats and Cold Temperatures

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 
Does anyone know if ferals can live in these single digit temperatures. Even moreso, when the wind chill factor goes below zero. I wish I can rescue ALL OF THEM.

I can't stand knowing that there are so many out there in this weather just shivering. Literally, to death! I mean people are dying from the cold so I imagine they are too.

Does anyone know???
post #2 of 32

You can't save them all. Stuffing straw into open enclosed spaces will help, and although it sounds harsh if they die from hypothermia, it is at least a peaceful passing. Cats shiver to stay warm, and then they just shut down and go to sleep in extremly cold temperatues. Giving them access to food and water that is not frozen will also help those who will go out in search of food, but most of them will just hunker down and hope to survive.
post #3 of 32
Thread Starter 
How sad. You just feel so helpless, ya know.

It's just not fair, we have prisoners that we pay to keep sheltered and fed, and then we have innocent beautiful creations that are struggling to survive. And then the innocent ones die. Go figure!
post #4 of 32
There are feral cats in Mammoth Lakes who survive year after year, just like the racoons & coyotes do. They seem to be able to find shelter, but I'm sure that the weaker ones die or get caught by predators. It is sooo sad! Hissy is so right about the food & water, esp. the unfrozen water. Are you in an area where you could put up some sort of shelter? Even a cardboard box, with plastic on the bottom, and shredded newspaper topped with an old towel, or better yet, an old Hollofill vest or jacket, or piece of sleeping bag will do. I say a prayer every time I see a stray cat. As a matter of fact, tonight I spotted 2 scruffy looking cats outside my husband's office & after reading this post, I've decided to drive back to town & set out some food & water. Thanks for motivating me!! Susan
post #5 of 32
This page will help you to build an inexpensive shelter:


Please use an insulated material..like straw:

Alley Cat Allies recommends the use of hardwood shavings (no cedar or pine), straw or fake sheepskin as bedding in the shelter. "Never use towels, blankets or sheets because they retain moisture," says Holton. Scroggs places bed sheets made from cut Mylar,’ a space-age product that retains body heat, in her shelters. These sheets can be found in the home section of department stores and are easily cut to size.

post #6 of 32
Wool cloth works well too, as it wicks the moisture away. I went to Goodwill and they gave me a bagful of wool items that were not in good enough shape to put out to sell... I cut them up (removed buttons, zippers etc...) and lined the boxes I used, with the Mylar and then added a small amount of straw and then the wool cloth. The kitties LOVE their new shelter boxes and I have enough up at the grainmill, (where I also feed and bring warm water to them) that it looks like a little kitty dormitory there! The shelter boxes are in an overhang area that has a roof and two side walls, so it stays quite dry in there, and is a perfect place to put the kitty shelter boxes!
post #7 of 32
Hi Missy&SpikesMom. Just wanted to thank you for this topic post. It's been very helpful for me. Tracy
post #8 of 32
If you look at the stores having closeout sales on Christmas wrap, LIke Walmart, some of the wrap is mylar, and it makes a great way to line cardboard boxes to protect them from damp and moisture.
post #9 of 32
If I made a shelter, where would the best place to put it be?

We already have over a foot of snow out there from last week and it's snowing again tonight. There is really not a place where the shelter wouldn't be affected if it snowed again.

I saw a cat out tonight so I took a bunch of dry food outside, put it where I saw him and also sprinkled lots up and down the street. I don't know if it will get too cold to eat or not. Just figured I'd try.

Any suggestions as to help these guys in the cold and the snow?
post #10 of 32
When we lived in Alaska, it was difficult to keep the ferals out of the snow because it snows so much. We ended up emptying out a shed, and keeping a window propped open so they could get in and out easily. But it is a challenge when the drifts are so high
post #11 of 32
I wish I could make a shed for them but there's no way I could do it. I live in an apt. complex and while there is a slightly wooded area across from my parking lot there is no way I could hide a shed there.

Tomorrow I will go back there and try to find a place that seems to get the least amount of snow and try to make some sort of shelter there. I doubt there will be a good place but it won't hurt to try. Atleast they might get to use it for a few days.
post #12 of 32
GratefulBear--I am going to bump up my other post about the Homemade Feeding Station I made to set out(from a Rubbermaid-type tub container...) It has worked out just GREAT for the strays and ferals around here. (My kitty, Missy is checking it out and gave her FULL approval!! haha )
The Rubbermaid-type tub containers make GREAT shelters for them, too!!! Just cut a door in the side of it so the door is over to the one side of the container (To give protection to the rest of the container for the cats to stay warm) Then I put styrofoam sheets cut to size (found at Lowes or Home Depot as Insulation Styrofoam) Then covered that with mylar, and newspaper sections and a small amount of straw. Then added some woolen cloth and they are SO happy with it all!!!
I think it is wonderful you are so caring!

Thanks for the kind words, Harley587!!!
post #13 of 32
Hi Gratefulbear69. Could you put a large dog house with straw in the wooded area? I have both a shed and a dog house. My ferals mostly use the shed, but occasionally they are in the dog house (really - no pun was intended!). Right now they are not leaving the shed. However, yours may go into the dog house considering there is nothing else around. Tracy
post #14 of 32
GratefulBear, your best bet is to put out small shelters, hidden as well as possible in the wooded area (you don't want to draw attention to these for the cats' safety). I see Katie already gave you some info on making homemade shelters - here's another: www.neighborhoodcats.org/info/wintershelter.htm

It's almost impossible to put a shelter where it won't be affected by snow. Try to face the shelter away from the north, the direction most storms and wind come from. You need to elevate the shelters with rocks or bricks at least 8" or more off the ground. If you can, put two wooden boards leaning toward each other (like this: ^) to make a peaked shaped "entrance" to the shelter. This helps keep some snow away from the entrance. If you place a board directly in front of the entrance (which of course would be better), unfortunately, the cats won't use the shelter because they need to have an unobstructed view out the entrance. They don't feel safe if they can't see out.

When there's lots of snow, you'll have to go to the shelters and dig out paths for them, and make sure the snow hasn't covered the shelter entrances. Also make a kitty "latrine" area for them by clearing snow away from a patch of ground that's not too close to their shelters.
post #15 of 32
If you have access to electricity by the feeding station, a heated waterbowl is absolutely wonderful! I got one this year and it is so much easier than going out and emptying the frozen water 3 times a day and refilling. Mine got a little crusty around the edges the day it went below zero (F) but stayed unfrozen the rest of the times.
post #16 of 32
Unfortunately, I cannot get electricity out there. It's a small somewhat wooded area across the street from our parking lot in my apt. complex. It wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't owned by the apts. I am going to try to make a shelter sometime this week and get it out there. Maybe I can just dig a big area out near the back so the shelter will fit but it will be hidden by all the snow.

I don't live in the best area so I don't want to draw attention to them like KTLynn said. I do worry about them knowing the sort of people that hang out around here.

Once it gets a little warmer and the snow melts away I would like to set up a trap and try to get them S/N and up to date on shots. As long as I don't get caught by my landlord!!!! I'm not supposed to have CJ so I don't want to take any risks of him being found out. lol

Thanks everyone for all of your advice!!
post #17 of 32
GratefulBear629..I wouldn't put it off too long...kitten season is right around the corner. Just a reminder....February is the month where there are lots of spay/neuter-a-thons because of the Doris Day's national spay campaign.

post #18 of 32
I'm sure ferals can find ways to keep warm and find food and stuff like that. It would be nice if they could be adopted out to a good home but some are beyond help.
post #19 of 32
Originally Posted by eburgess
I'm sure ferals can find ways to keep warm and find food and stuff like that. It would be nice if they could be adopted out to a good home but some are beyond help.
I don't think that the feral cats that prefer the outdoors are "beyond help"....these are cats that through no fault of their own have reverted to a place of not trusting humans. Although they can often find food and shelter...they still need our assistance to get them spayed and neutered so that we can stabilize their populations.

post #20 of 32
Of course people should spay them, inever said they shouldn't. Many feral cats can not be pets. My sister is a vet tech and has seen ferals. Many are not able to be pets, even though some organizations try to adopt them out.
post #21 of 32
Poster: eburgess... I think there is a MUCH higher percentage rate of them NOT being able to keep warm OR find enough food to keep even slightly comfortable. I figure, I got several meals today, and I am warm and comfortable(and am very thankful for this!) So, I go and feed a colony of feral cats at the edge of our town and bring very warm water and warm food every day when the weather is so bitterly cold. I also brought cat box shelters for them and they ARE using them! So, I know it won't help the stray and feral cats in the entire world, but in my little corner of the world, I am doing what I can, to at least make their lives a little better, in whatever way I am able....

**Edited for a typo!
post #22 of 32
That's very nice of you to feed those cats. I never said anything about letting them starve or stuff like that. I never said you're a horrible person to do that. It's when oragnzations catch them, then try to adopt them out the problems occur. These cats don't want to be cooped up in a house with people. They can be very aggressive (unless you catch them with they are still kittens). Most do not make good pets and end up back at the shelter, vet's office or woods. Most likely ferals can find food and what not on thier own, that is why they are feral, and continue to be so. You know that "call of the wild" stuff??? ferals answer to it just like deer and racoons and whatever else. feral cats can largely take care of themselves, they wouldn't of survied this long if they couldn't. And if they can't manage it, they would sit at out doors begging for food and attention and all the perks of being a house cat. But that's wishful thinking. And if you have read other post you would know that i suggested to a fellow poster to heat her shed that is currently housing some ferals.
post #23 of 32
Originally Posted by TNR1
GratefulBear629..I wouldn't put it off too long...kitten season is right around the corner. Just a reminder....February is the month where there are lots of spay/neuter-a-thons because of the Doris Day's national spay campaign.


Do you know of a website that would list all the events going on? If there was one in my area I would love to take part.. even if I can't catch a little critter I would certainly like to volunteer.
post #24 of 32
Where exactly is Hamilton? I tried to find it on an atlas...I did find this from another forum:

If anyone out there lives in the Jersey City area, Liberty Humane
Shelter is under new management and encouraging TNR. You can get a
male or female neutered, rabies/distemper shots, flea treatment, ear
tipped for $25. You just need to make an appointment. Not free but
much better than the $200 my neighborhood vet quoted me.


New Jersey Dept of Health & Senior Services
Pet Overpopulation Control Fund
PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625
When and if state funds are available, spay/neuter surgery is very low cost for pets of people with low income. Check the web site for more information about eligibility requirements and/or call by phone. Many veterinary clinics around the state are participating.
Monmouth County SPCA Spay/Neuter Clinic
260 Wall Street
Eatontown, NJ 07724
Low cost spay/neuter, vaccines, and flea products.

East Coast New Jersey Spay Clinic

Animal Welfare Association
Voorhees NJ
Low cost s/n for ferals and pets.

People for Animals
Hillside, NJ

Feral to Friendly Felines
P.O. Box 344
Washinton, NJ 07882
Phone: (908) 453-4496

Stray Katz, Inc.
33 Shelburne Drive
Trenton, NJ 08638-2723
Phone: (609) 883 5869

post #25 of 32
"Most likely ferals can find food and whatnot on their own, that is why they are feral and continue to be so". Actually, feral cats become feral because of irresponsible people who don't bother to spay/neuter their pet cats. They are the offspring of cats who have been allowed to procreate and become feral out of the necessity to survive, and many don't. They do not remain feral because they CHOOSE to remain feral - they simply have no other choice. Most have had no contact with humans and do everything they can to avoid them out of fear. It's the rare feral cat that will sit on someone's doorstep waiting for a handout.

The fact that there continue to be ferals is not due to their longevity or ability to survive - the life of a feral cat who receives no help from people is very short. The reason that the feral population exists is because people consistently contribute to it by not getting their cats S/N.

Ferals are cats first, feral second. Like all cats, they need to stay warm, have food and water on a regular basis. In some parts of the world this is easier than in others. But for most ferals, hunger is constant, fear is constant, and shelter difficult and sometimes impossible to find. Feral cats are not wildlife, like deer and raccoons.
But thanks to the human race, they are forced to live as if they are.
post #26 of 32
a am possitive if you take a 5 yr old feral cat and try to adopt it out it will NOT work. The point I am trying to make that everyone seems to be missing is that many of these cats are beyond help and people should NOT try to adopt these cats out. Yes feed them, yes, netering them, yes aid them, but understand they are never going to be house pets. and Yes ferals can be born that way.
post #27 of 32
Thanks Hissy for remind me that if they die from hypotermia it is at least a peaceful passing..really.
As consolations go it's better that total frustration in knowing that they are dying from the cold..
post #28 of 32
<<But thanks to the human race, they are forced to live as if they are.>>

Well put KTLynn..I've a hard time trying to tell that to people..they say " yeah..but there's nothing you can do"

And of course there's much we can do..oh-well, it's one of those things you just DO and explaining can or not be useless.
post #29 of 32
I agree that taking a 5 year old, unsocialized feral cat directly from the outdoors and putting him up for adoption is foolish. No one here disagrees with that or is missing that point. The problem is with the words "beyond help". If what is meant by that is that feral cats can't be socialized, that is untrue. Though not all can become house cats, MANY can. The difficulty is that there are very few resources for this. Most animal organizations and shelters do not have enough people who can foster and socialize feral cats. This is why virtually all feral cats who are brought to shelters are euthanized. Though many have the potential to be socialized, they won't get the chance. The shelters already have their hands full trying to adopt out the domesticated cats.

Feral cats are "born that way" if they are themselves the offspring of a feral cat. Cats only become feral if they have no human care. A feral mom cat will give birth to kittens who will certainly be feral too IF no human intercedes. The kittens of a lost or abandoned domesticated cat will also be feral if they have no contact with humans,
no matter how friendly their mom was with people. As Katie pointed out previously, cats will only REVERT to being feral in order to survive. Please keep in mind that the feral cats out there now are the result of irresponsible PEOPLE who started the feral population by refusing to S/N their cats.
post #30 of 32
Ok you people are making me out to be some witch who could care less about all cats but herown. geez... I am only saying what I have learned. I know many people who work with or are vets personally, ie my cousins and sister. I am telling you what they have told me and my personal experiences. The fact is, many feral cats are beyond the point of rehabillitation and are better off left alone. Yes feed them, medicate, whatever. Do Not pick up a feral to take it to the vet and say "adopt him out" This is all I'm saying. That's it.... don't read anymore into it.
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