Winter Care of Community Cats

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When cold weather comes, feral and stray cats are extra grateful to get a helping hand. Here are ways you can help them with the basics.

Food – Canned cat food takes less energy for cats to digest than dry food, but unless your kitties eat soon after you put food out, it can freeze. Dry food is the best option for cats who prefer to eat when you aren’t around. Animal DREAMS’ food pantry is available to any Berkshire resident who feeds outside cats and participates in our TNR program. Call 413-997-2287 if you are feeding outside cats and need food.

Water- Cats need water daily, and it can be hard to find in the winter. Use bowls that are deep rather than wide, and place them in a sunny spot. Fill the bowls with warm water, or add a pinch of sugar to the water to delay freezing. Consider an electrically heated water bowl, which can be found in pet stores or on line.

Shelter- Providing a shelter can guarantee cats a way to escape the weather. Small shelters can be made out of many items including plastic totes, styrofoam coolers, and wood. An internet search will provide lots of creative ideas. The key is to keep the wind and cold out by making the entrance small, and adding plenty of straw (not hay) inside for insulation. Blankets and other fabric type items do not work well as they absorb moisture from the cats and make for poor insulators. Some cat caretakers add insulation sheets (mylar or space blankets) inside of the outer “box”, or under the straw to increase the cozy factor. If your cats are in an area where there’s electricity, you might consider putting an outdoor heating pad inside of the shelter. Outbuildings are a great place for cats to escape wind and precipitation.

A little bit of help makes a big difference for cats who live outside. On those extra-cold winter days and nights, your kindness might make all the difference in the world to them.

Carol Lew
TNR Coordinator
Berkshire Animal DREAMS

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