DIY

Seven Ways To Help Stray Or Feral Cats Survive The Winter

by Laura Caseley
Laura is a writer, illustrator, and artist living in New York City.

Winter is a hard time for pets — and while pets have warm places to sleep and humans to snuggle, animals outdoors have a much rougher time.

In many areas of the country, feral cats are everywhere. These are the same animals as domesticated cats, but they’ve been living on their own for so long that they’ve essentially become wild once again.

If you hear yowling outside, it might be that you have a few strays taking up residence in your yard. And during the winter, they face cold and hunger, too.

Feral cats live a precarious life — as we can see from some of the crazy situations these curious creatures get themselves into — but you can make it better!

With just a few simple tips, and some diligence, you can help a cat survive the winter — and you don’t even have to be a cat person!

Remember, feral cats aren’t pets, so don’t try to pet them or pick them up if they’re not used to you — they might scratch or bite you! Give them their space, and they’ll appreciate it.

Please SHARE if you believe every animal deserves a warm, safe home!

1. Build A Shelter

1. Build A Shelter
LittleThings / Maya Borenstein

You might not be a cat person, but you can save a cat’s life this winter using nothing but some plastic bins, Styrofoam, and straw (not blankets!).

Build it snug and well-insulated, and the cats will stay warm thanks to their own body heat.

There are tons of great tutorials out there on how to build a cozy, comfy shelter — like this one!

A shelter like this is also perfect if you have outdoor cats who prefer to roam rather than come inside for the winter.

2. Shovel Out Shelters

2. Shovel Out Shelters
LittleThings / Maya Borenstein

If you have cats living on your property, either in their own shelters or in ones you’ve built, make sure the cats can get in and out after a snowfall.

Take a moment and shovel out the entrances. That way, the cats can get out and access food and water.

3. Cat-Proof Your Garage

3. Cat-Proof Your Garage
LittleThings / Maya Borenstein

If you’re having outdoor cats stay in your garage, make sure it’s a safe place for them to be.

Remove anything breakable, claw-able, or poisonous — and be sure to clean up any spilled antifreeze, as this toxic chemical is tasty to animals.

And naturally, if you keep your car in the garage, make sure you know where the cats are before pulling in or out!

4. Check Your Engine

4. Check Your Engine
LittleThings / Maya Borenstein

In times of extreme cold, cats and other small animals sometimes like to get up under the hood of your car and snuggle with your still-warm engine. It sounds crazy, but it’s true!

If you’ve driven on a cold night, it’s a good idea to check under your hood in the morning to make sure no one is camped out inside.

We don’t need to tell you what can happen to a small creature inside a running car.

5. Install A Small Door

5. Install A Small Door
LittleThings / Maya Borenstein

If you have a safe, designated area for strays, a pet door can be a great way to let them come and go as they please.

But be careful that you don’t let the rest of the animal kingdom in, too! Be sure to get a small door that only a cat can fit through.

Outdoor and stray cats tend to be on the thinner side, so don’t worry about excluding larger cats. A smaller door will exclude other animals, though, like raccoons.

Again, just remember to give strays their space — both for your safety, and their comfort.

6. Invest In A Heated Water Bowl

6. Invest In A Heated Water Bowl
LittleThings / Maya Borenstein

Staying well-hydrated is important in the winter, but tricky if the water dish is outside in freezing temperatures.

To avoid the water freezing, you may want to invest in a heated water dish that plugs in to keep water liquid.

7. Opt For Dry Food

7. Opt For Dry Food
LittleThings / Maya Borenstein

Like water, wet food can freeze in low temperatures, so choose dry kibble instead.

Food and water are best left inside, like in a garage with a kitty door, where only the cats can get to it. Otherwise, you may attract other animals.

To learn more about caring for strays during the winter, be sure to watch the video below!

If you have a colony of cats skulking around your neighborhood, consider lending them some goodwill this winter.

And as always, if you find one that seems sick or injured, call your local animal control office, shelter, or police department.

Please SHARE if you would ever help a stray cat!