Care for Cats in Cold Weather

outdoor cat shelter

Now that the weather has turned cold, many people are concerned about cats that they see outdoors. Compassionate people want to round them all up and bring them to the shelter, where they’ll be warm and happy. But wait! Believe it or not, most cats would be happier if they never enter a shelter. The shelter is full of things cats don’t like: strange cats, strange dogs, and strange sounds and odors. This is especially true for for cats that have never been socialized to humans; some call them feral cats,and others call them wild cats. There are certainly some cats you find outdoors that should come to the shelter–those that appear to be injured or ill. Most cats that you see outdoors would be happier if you help them on their terms, though, rather than rounding them up and putting them in what is only a better place from the human point of view. I realize this is a controversial topic; many people believe that all cats should be indoors only. However, that’s a philosophical and logistical nightmare for another discussion.

So how can we help cats within our community that are living outside? Here’s a list from easiest to most difficult:

  • Provide a reliable source of food and water. A cat with a better body condition can better tolerate the cold weather. If you’re concerned about attracting wildlife, don’t leave food out overnight.
  • Provide shelter. You can purchase a warm winter shelter pre-made, or make one of your own. Click here to see a pre-made shelter for purchase.
  • Here’s a great video showing you how you can make a shelter. Make sure to use straw and NOT HAY! Straw helps to retain heat and repel moisture. Put your shelters as far as far off the beaten path as possible, and remember to shovel out the opening after a snowfall.
  • Lastly, reproduction is a major stress on the body. Trap those kitties and get them neutered and vaccinated, or ask for help doing so if you’re new to caring for community cats. There are resources to get outdoor cats spayed and neutered, including at Spay Neuter KC.

One more thing that may seem a bit strange. Don’t forget to pound on the hood of your car before starting it to make sure there aren’t any kitties taking shelter in the engine.