Stray cats are indeed able to live outdoors—typically near to humans. Stray cats can live and grow in different places, weather conditions, and environments. That said, there remains a myriad of ways to help make life outdoors easier for them.
How Do I Feed Stray Cats During Winter?
Community cats can benefit from added food throughout the winter months. If you can, increase food portions to help them get the energy that they need. Be sure to bring out fresh water twice a day.
You can go the extra mile by heating canned food and water before offering them up to community cats in your area. You can also put the bowls in a microwavable heating pad to keep food from freezing.
Wet food is easier absorbed by the body, helping cats to conserve energy. However, wet food needs to be given in plastic containers to avoid freezing. On the other hand, dry food has a lesser chance of freezing and can work in frigid temperatures.
Serve food on deep bowls rather than wide ones. Place the bowls in areas that are relatively warm to keep water from freezing. Additionally, stay clear from using stainless bowls because these can quickly freeze.
Creating a feeding station is the best way to feed stray cats during the winter months—it will shield the cats and their food from the elements. If you have a spare water fountain, we encourage you to use it as running water is less likely to freeze.
Making A Winter Sanctuary For Stray Cats
Cats can find their sanctuary, but you can make it easier for them by creating places where they can rest and be safe. Constructing an outdoor cat sanctuary can be very easy, affordable, and fun!
If you decided you would build one, here are some tips:
Sanctuaries don't need to be huge—larger areas can mean that heat disperses quickly. An ideal cover can be as small as 2 x 3 feet and 18 inches high. This size can shelter 3 to 5 cats.
If the cats are not going inside the shelter you created, you can make it more attractive by spraying a little catnip or putting treats inside. If you cannot build a shelter, you can instead look for a place where cats can rest. Make it more comfortable and cozy by putting in some blankets.
Putting a door flap over your sanctuary door keeps the cold air out. It can also protect cats from possible predators. When creating one, keep in mind that the access should be above ground to keep rain and snow out.
Other Winter Safety Tips for Stray Cats
During the winter months, stray cats gravitate toward warm places. Before starting your car, tap the hood of your vehicle a couple of times—this ensures that there isn't a stray cat hiding below the car or inside the engine to keep warm. Make it a habit to check between your tires and wheel wells.
Do not use antifreeze in places that cats can stay in—antifreeze can be fatal. Propylene glycol is less dangerous, but it can still be a hazard. Additionally, avoid the use of salt or chemicals to melt snow. These can be deadly when licked off cats' paws or consumed from melting puddles. They similarly injure cats' paw pads.
Lastly, spaying and neutering improve a cat's general health, and healthier cats are better geared up for frigid days. Nevertheless, if you're doing Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) in the wintertime, examine the traps frequently. Be sure to keep the cats in a warm holding area pre-and-post the surgical procedure. A rule of thumb is if a place is cold for you, it's colder for the cats.