Neighborhood Cat Care for the Winter
When the temperatures drop below freezing or it’s snowing outside, our neighborhood cats get cold outside too! Cats have thick fur coats to keep them warm, but it may not be enough to keep them warm during freezing temperatures. Whether they are community cats, feral cats, or strays, let’s help them survive the winter months with these simple tasks:
First, be on the lookout.
Locate the areas where they spend most of their time. These common areas are where you would want to provide food, water, and shelter. You never know where the outdoor cats may be, or how many of them there are. During the winter, some cats like to hide under cars for warmth. These places can be potentially dangerous to the cats and cause injury. Be sure to always check beneath your car and near the tires before starting your engine.
If you want to provide shelter for the outdoor cats, a smaller compact space can help trap in heat as compared to a larger shelter. A simple plastic storage bin would do just fine in keeping the cat warm and safe. Placing straw either inside the shelter or underneath can help keep the area insulated. Avoid placing the shelter directly onto the cold ground by keeping it lifted off the floor in case it rains.
Fresh food and water.
Cats are going to need a lot of food during the winter to keep them warm. Since wet food can freeze in cold temperatures, dry food is preferred if given outdoors. If you are feeding the cats immediately, wet food can be provided. Water in deeper dishes can delay the freezing time. Be sure to check up on the food and water bowls daily. Refill with clean, fresh water when possible.
If the shelter is large enough, place the bowl of food and water inside. If it is too small, placing the water right outside the shelter will do. This way, the cats do not have to travel far to get access to food. To keep the food and water warm, position the bowl to where you know will get the most sunlight. Darker colored bowls will absorb more heat from the sun than lighter colored bowls.
If you notice that a cat might be suffering with frostbite or hypothermia, please bring the cat to safety and contact your local veterinarian. The vet can determine how severe the issue is and provide you with the next steps to recovery.