Thursday, October 23, 2014

Gimme Shelter!

This morning was rather uneventful.  Yesterday, after picking up Claude, the kitty I had neutered at the clinic, I released him (and I forgot to get his picture!) when he was still a little groggy from the anesthesia, much to my dismay.  As you know, I have a hard time letting cats back out onto the streets, the ones that are sweet are much harder, but there aren’t enough homes for them, or I mean, there aren’t enough people to give them a chance!

He was there this morning, waiting on me, hungry.  As I walked up to the shelter in the back of the lot, shining my LED flashlight, I could see him come out of the plastic tote with straw in it, where he must have spent the night.  Its so awesome to see them use these shelters, but so sad at the same time.  He should be on someone’s bed at night.

The woman I met a while back, the one that volunteers at the food cupboard on Short Street on Saturdays, that was placing food down occasionally for the kitties at my shelter, unbeknownst to me, Nancy, continue to go along with me occasionally in the morning, to feed the many cats that I feed every single day…………….  Every……………………….  Single……………………………. Day……………………  J

Anyways, she lives in an apartment building on the corner of Goodman and East Main, right where you turn into the public market.  Each time she goes I have to pick her up.  Almost each time, I see a cat as I am driving from her building, in a parking lot of an old restaurant that used to be there, Charlies.  I’ve seen two different cats there now.  Each time, I get out of my car, and place a bowl of food and water down where they can see it, because they RUN and HIDE when they see me seeing them.  Nancy has told me she has gone back to check on the bowls during the day (she does not work), and has left food there for them also.  Today, as we drove to the first feeding spot, I asked her if she would consider placing a shelter behind her building for the winter for these cats.  She thought about it, and at the end of our ride, she said she will ask her landlord, who is a ‘nice man’, and even asked me if a certain closed off part of the building would be a good spot.  I told her yes, she would need some boards, and some plastic totes with straw, etc., but that it would be a good home for a cat that has nothing.  She agreed.  She will talk to her landlord.  I told her if every homeowner would place a shelter for an animal at their house, the world would be such a better place.  Take responsibility for JUST ONE ANIMAL!

Brady - RESCUED!

Here is some good information on sheltering cats from Alley Cat Allies:

Some colonies find shelter for themselves in a shed or under a building where their safety is uncertain. You might want to consider building a shelter for the cats. It can keep them safe from the elements and help you control their location and deter them from neighbors’ properties.
 A good size for a shelter is at least 2x3’ and at least 18” high. Larger shelters are not necessarily better, since heat disperses quickly, leaving the inside as cold as the outside. A space just big enough for three to five cats to huddle is best. Cats generally use shelters during winter months more than others. Consider size for transport in your vehicle to and from the colony site as well. Again, camouflage the shelter as much as possible using dark green or brown paint. Anything that stands out could be mistaken for trash and could bring unwanted attention to the cats.

  • Feral Cat Shelter Options Gallery
    Alley Cat Allies' list of shelter ideas, including shelters for sale, pulls from organizations and individuals all over the country and is sorted by ease of set-up.
  • Tips
    - Ask for scrap lumber from building supply stores or contractors, often available at little or no cost.
    - Place an ad asking for used dog houses. This can net several free shelters that, with minor improvements, can be made suitable for cats (usually insulation needs to be added and the door made smaller).
    - Host a shelter building party. Get together with other caregivers and/or your local feral cat organization’s supporters to build the houses together. Contact a local Boy or Girl Scout or other youth organization and ask interested youth to complete a service project to help build shelters.
  • Some things to keep in mind for your shelter

    Maintenance: Shelters should be checked regularly to ensure their optimum quality and function. When deciding what kind of shelter to use, remember that some of the low-cost suggestions will need to be checked and replaced more frequently than some of the more permanent and professionally built shelters.

    Doorway: Make sure that the door is only big enough for cats. The door should be 6-8" wide to keep out wildlife and larger predators. The opening should have a flap or an L-shaped entryway to keep cold air from blowing in. If neither option is possible, make sure the door faces away from prevailing winds or faces a wall. Some caregivers prefer shelters that have two doors so cats cannot be cornered.

    Protection from the Elements: You can ensure that the cats are protected by making shelters waterproof, windproof (especially in cold climates), and elevated off the ground. Discarded pallets from shipping firms or hardware, farm supplies, or pet stores are a good option for elevation. The space beneath the shelters should be blocked from drafts. Insulation is a good material to use.

    Bedding: Straw resists the wet and keeps a shelter warm, and is the best choice for insulation and bedding. Be sure to use straw—not hay—for feral cat shelters. Do NOT use blankets, carpeting, fake sheepskin, or any material that holds moisture. You can also use hardwood shavings (not cedar or pine), but keep in mind that softwood shavings are not suitable due to possible toxicity. Some caregivers in locations with long, cold winters use Mylar blankets as bedding. Mylar is a product that retains body heat. The generic term for Mylar is Polyester Film or Plastic Sheet. These sheets can be purchased from survival and outdoor stores as thermal safety blankets, or online at websites such as

    Camouflage: Shelters should blend in with their surroundings so that they are not obtrusive to neighbors. Cover them with leaves or other brush or paint them a dark color. Moving shelters into wooded areas away from buildings, parking lots, and other high-traffic areas is also a good idea for cat safety and to avoid neighbor complaints.

    Deter Wildlife: Wildlife may decide to make their home in the shelters you provide for the cats. Reducing the shelter door to an opening 6” wide may solve this predicament. Do not use repellants because most of them will repel the cats as well. Some caregivers have resorted to providing additional shelters, accepting that some will be used by wildlife.

1 comment:

  1. I was wondering what the difference was between straw and hay. I found this on a google search: "Straw is the stalks or stems of grains like wheat, barley, or oats after the grain has been harvested. Hay is grass or legumes that have been cut and dried and is generally used as animal feed."

    Where do we find straw?