Make a winter feral cat box

Make a winter feral cat box

Help your local feral cats stay safe this season.

The other day I ran across a really cool idea on Facebook that I thought I would pass around. Many of us have lots of feral cats in our neighborhoods that we might try to catch to bring in to a shelter that just can’t be caught. Cats are clever creatures, after all. Sometimes it’s also simply not safe to catch them. So how else can we help?

Some people set out food for ferals, but I hadn’t heard of setting up a shelter for them until I saw this photo. You can make a really easy insulated shelter for cats during the winter months with some Styrofoam with these simple steps. My family and I make bat and bird houses, but the most we’ve ever done for ferals—aside from catching a few and finding them homes—is keep our shed open to allow them safe passage during the cold months. Still, our shed isn’t insulated—this box is.

Feral cats vary so widely that you never really know how much help you can be to them. My husband and I have kept ferals as pets before—which can be, and has been, dangerous; do not take in a feral as a pet if you do not know you can handle it or that it is safe!—and we have captured some ferals and taken them to either shelters (adults) or to families who then adopted them (as kittens).

In fact, my mother, sister, and her sister-in-law all have kittens who were born in our shed from a feral mother. If you are afraid to help trap the cats humanely and take them to a safe place, this is a good option to still help them without endangering yourself or your family. If you are crafty or have the materials for a bigger, more long-term shelter, click here for directions.

Here are a few other ways to help feral cats:

Set up feeding and watering stations for the feral cats where you live. Though cats are good hunters, they do remain a domesticated species—and food is hard to come by during the winter months. Providing food and fresh water can help them survive the cold.

Capture cats to have them spayed or neutered, then released back into the wild. If a cat cannot be adopted, at least he or she will not make more feral babies this way. This is a particularly good idea for people who like to keep ferals for hunting mice in their barns or other property.