Felines Have Feelings Too

Posted by Pia

While we tend to speak mostly 'woof' here at The Wag, I know more than a handful of canines who live with- and even care about - their feline comrades. Minnow is one of them! Upon sharing her concern for the many stray, feral and outdoor cats facing these freezing temperatures, I promised Minnow that I'd post some cold-weather-kitty-safety-tips compiled by the experts at Alley Cat Allies...

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Be sure to keep your own cats indoors during extreme temperatures.  You can also help stray and feral cats stay warm, and safe with a few simple steps. Photo: Alley Cat Allies

1 Be sure to keep your own cats indoors during extreme temperatures. You can also help stray and feral cats stay warm, and safe with a few simple steps. Photo: Alley Cat Allies

Provide an outdoor shelter and a refuge from cold and wind. The door to the shelter should be no more than 6 to 8 inches wide to keep out bigger predators.
Photo: Alley Cat Allies

2 Provide an outdoor shelter and a refuge from cold and wind. The door to the shelter should be no more than 6 to 8 inches wide to keep out bigger predators. Photo: Alley Cat Allies

The shelter should be placed in a quiet area. A flap on the shelter door will keep out snow, rain and wind. Photo: Pia Salk

3 The shelter should be placed in a quiet area. A flap on the shelter door will keep out snow, rain and wind. Photo: Pia Salk

Insulate the shelter against moisture as well as cold.
Straw (not hay—they are different!) resists the wet and keeps a shelter warm. 
Photo: Alley Cat Allies

4 Insulate the shelter against moisture as well as cold. Straw (not hay—they are different!) resists the wet and keeps a shelter warm. Photo: Alley Cat Allies

Avoid blankets in outdoor shelters—they absorb moisture like a sponge. Use straw to insulate! Photo: Pia Salk

5 Avoid blankets in outdoor shelters—they absorb moisture like a sponge. Use straw to insulate! Photo: Pia Salk

If you have a shed or garage, allow cats to have access during winter and severe weather. But take care to remove any antifreeze products! Photo: Pia Salk

6 If you have a shed or garage, allow cats to have access during winter and severe weather. But take care to remove any antifreeze products! Photo: Pia Salk

Shelters are easy and inexpensive to build. You can use the plans available at www.alleycat.org/WinterWeather.
Photo: Alley Cat Allies

7 Shelters are easy and inexpensive to build. You can use the plans available at www.alleycat.org/WinterWeather. Photo: Alley Cat Allies

Some manufacturers sell pre-built cat shelters, but even a large plastic storage tub will work with simple modifications.
Photo: Alley Cat Allies

8 Some manufacturers sell pre-built cat shelters, but even a large plastic storage tub will work with simple modifications. Photo: Alley Cat Allies

Clear the way...
In heavy snowfall, it is very important to clear snow away from pathways to and from any areas where cats might seek shelter so they don’t get “snowed in.”

9 Clear the way... In heavy snowfall, it is very important to clear snow away from pathways to and from any areas where cats might seek shelter so they don’t get “snowed in.”

The size of the shelter should depend on the number of cats in the colony...
Photo: Pia Salk

10 The size of the shelter should depend on the number of cats in the colony... Photo: Pia Salk

A good-sized shelter offers a space just big enough for three to five cats to huddle—but space should be limited if there is only one cat who needs shelter. Photo: Pia Salk

11 A good-sized shelter offers a space just big enough for three to five cats to huddle—but space should be limited if there is only one cat who needs shelter. Photo: Pia Salk

Multiple outdoor shelters may be needed to keep larger colonies of feral cats warm and safe.  Photo: Alley Cat Allies

12 Multiple outdoor shelters may be needed to keep larger colonies of feral cats warm and safe. Photo: Alley Cat Allies

Be sure to keep all animals away from toxic chemicals like anti-freeze.  Anti-freeze often pools under cars and can taste sweet - but it is often lethal when consumed. Photo: Alley Cat Allies

13 Be sure to keep all animals away from toxic chemicals like anti-freeze. Anti-freeze often pools under cars and can taste sweet - but it is often lethal when consumed. Photo: Alley Cat Allies

Check under your car before starting it, as cats will sometimes crawl into the engine for warmth. Be sure to tap on the hood to scare out any cats who may be underneath or who you didn’t see. Photo: Alley Cat Allies

14 Check under your car before starting it, as cats will sometimes crawl into the engine for warmth. Be sure to tap on the hood to scare out any cats who may be underneath or who you didn’t see. Photo: Alley Cat Allies

Avoid salt and other melting products as they can be toxic and injure paws. Even though there are some “pet-safe” magnesium chloride melting salts- cats sometimes drink from the melting puddles which can be unsafe.  
Photo: Alley Cat Allies

15 Avoid salt and other melting products as they can be toxic and injure paws. Even though there are some “pet-safe” magnesium chloride melting salts- cats sometimes drink from the melting puddles which can be unsafe. Photo: Alley Cat Allies

In cold weather, cats require larger food portions and fresh water to prevent dehydration. Photo: Alley Cat Allies

16 In cold weather, cats require larger food portions and fresh water to prevent dehydration. Photo: Alley Cat Allies

When feeding outdoor cats and colonies, wet food in insulated containers is ideal in winter, but extra dry food (which will not freeze) is also fine.
Photo: Pia Salk

17 When feeding outdoor cats and colonies, wet food in insulated containers is ideal in winter, but extra dry food (which will not freeze) is also fine. Photo: Pia Salk

Foam insulation can be applied to the hollow underside of a regular plastic feeding dish to slow the freezing of food and water. Heated electric bowls can also be  found in many pet shops. Photo: Alley Cat Allies

18 Foam insulation can be applied to the hollow underside of a regular plastic feeding dish to slow the freezing of food and water. Heated electric bowls can also be found in many pet shops. Photo: Alley Cat Allies

It's important to keep water drinkable in winter: Use deep bowls rather than wide ones and place them in a sunny spot...
Photo: Alley Cat Allies

19 It's important to keep water drinkable in winter: Use deep bowls rather than wide ones and place them in a sunny spot... Photo: Alley Cat Allies

Minnow recommends that cat caretakers add a pinch of sugar to  outdoor water bowls; this keeps it from freezing as fast and offers an energy boost for the felines!
Photo: Pia Salk

20 Minnow recommends that cat caretakers add a pinch of sugar to outdoor water bowls; this keeps it from freezing as fast and offers an energy boost for the felines! Photo: Pia Salk

Feral cats are hardy animals, well-adjusted to outdoor life, but as temperatures plummet, a few extra steps can ensure they stay warm and safe even in below-freezing temperatures,” says Becky Robinson, president and founder of Alley Cat Allies.

Alley Cat Allies, the nation’s largest advocacy group for cats, reminds those who care for outdoor cats in their communities, that providing a few simple things can go a long way in keeping feral and stray cats safe and comfortable in freezing temperatures.

*Provide a functional outdoor shelter and a refuge from cold and wind.

Shelters are easy and inexpensive to build. You can use online plans —including a “5-minute shelter” made from a Styrofoam cooler.

Some manufacturers sell pre-built cat shelters, but even a large plastic storage tub will work with simple modifications.

*Straw (not hay—they are different!) is the best choice for insulation and bedding. It resists the wet and keeps a shelter warm.

*In extremely cold weather, cats require larger food portions and drinkable fresh water twice a day to prevent dehydration.

*Check under the car before starting it, as cats will sometimes crawl into the engine or hide underneath for warmth.

*Remember that antifreeze is toxic to cats and other animals. Always clean up any spills and keep it out of reach!

More details on the above tips can be found in todays photo gallery (above). Please be sure to spread the word and help educate others by forwarding this information.

A big thanks to Becky Robinson, Francie Isreali, and the dedicated folks at Alley Cat Allies for these important tips!
A wealth of interesting and user-friendly information regarding our fellow felines can also be found on the Alley Cat Allies website. I highly recommend taking the time to peruse and share it!

Burrrr......Meow....Purrr....
In kinship,
Dr. Pia Salk

Comments (9)

  • Good morning Dr Pia!
    Minnow, your coat looks bigger than you! hahahaha
    Well the temps around here are finally in the double digits....the weather peeps are saying maybe near 50 this weekend! And, of course, rain. Yucko. We don't like the rain. I, Brutus, stand with Ruby...snow! We want snow! Max here....I'll take clear, sunny skies, thank you very much.
    Mom took us out Wednesday evening before she left for work. About 30 minutes later she came out to bring us back in, I, Max, was way in the back of the yard. My lead had broken. She wasn't mad, just scared. She is always afraid that Brutie and I will go up the hill and onto the busy street. But, I behaved and stayed in the yard. I'm a good Puggy. She gave me extra treats. Of course, Brutus got extra treats, too. Why? I don't know. Mom says it's because he is still breathing. Huh?
    Well, that's about it from our neck of the woods. Dad is home now and we are ready for bed. Catch you Glue Squaders later.
    Pugs and warm furry kisses.
    Brutus and Max

  • Good morning,
    Just a quick note to say I missed the post yesterday because we have been extremely busy here. A shut off valve for the water in the new kennel building split and water was everywhere. It was a real mess. We worked for two days to get the valve fixed, get all the water out of the kennel, get all the blankets and food and water dishes cleaned up. A mess I tell you. Anyway, that is where I was working to get things squared away.
    Love to all,
    Maddox

  • Hi Dr. Pia and Minnow, You presented us with another absolutely fabulous blog again today and it was so much fun to see all of these sweet kitties and beautiful Minnow! I am so happy that so many people and more animals are being very kind to all of those kitties and every one of them are so cute! I am just like Minnow because I have always loved kitties since I was raised by a kitty before I got to live with my wonderful Mom! Photo #5 reminds me of my best buddy Bogie who used to stay every night during the winter time in our house and sleep next to me with Mom on our nice bed! I haven't seen him for a while because he and his family moved and I miss him so much! Sure hope all of you great buddies stay safe and very warm during our cold winter! I love all of you! Love, Dudley Do Right XOXOXO+

  • Good morning Swee' Pea Minnow & Dr. Pia,
    We only have one kitty that roams the neighborhood every now and then. It's a big, super fluffy kitty. Looks bigger than me!
    I'm so glad it's getting warmer here. Hey Minnow, don't your little legs get cold? I love your scarf.
    Morning nap time!
    Your pal
    Rebel

  • Hello Dr. Pia & all my Glue Squad Buddies,
    This feline info is very helpful. My brother feeds the feral cats sometimes at work, so I am having him read this so he knows the ropes. I am helping Dad today and Mom is having a Mom Day out and about on her card stuff. A store is going out of business, so I expect big packages coming in the house for her crafts. Don't tell Dad yet though, I will break it to him while she is out. Looks to be warmer today, so maybe a walk---keep your paws crossed. Dad says I need to get out on a walk as I got a holiday muffin top again. Hey Dad, you aren't perfect either. Soon as I get the landscape design going in spring, it all is good. Remember this Dad!!!!!! Have a GEM of a day all.
    Love and licks,
    Ruby

  • Hey Everybody..Thanks Dr. Pia for all the good tips on keeping our kitty buddies warm, safe and happy thru this awful weather. For over a year we have had this huge male feral cat hanging around the neighborhood. Since he is bigger than me and Sophie, mom was worried about him not being very nice to us if we came nose to nose sometime. And he is absolutely fearless, growls like a dog, a couple of the neighbors have tried to trap him with no luck. He is a smart old dude. I can't tell you what mom calls him cause I'm not allowed to use those words, but I knew she didn't mean it. Well, this last bout of freezing weather made mom cave completely. He was shivering under her car in the carport and she spotted him when she took us out. She melted. Off we went to the store and got all sorts of cat stuff including a bag of animal bedding. We had an old wooden crate in the shed that we made a "cat house" out of. A can of cat food, crunchies and a big bowl of water later he was snuggled in. He still won't let mom get near him, but he doesn't spaz out anymore when she goes out to feed him. If we hear him in his house mom will come on the porch and talk to him and you'll see his big ol cat face sticking out the door, and he looks at you like hey, I'm trying to nap here! Maybe someday we will all be friends...we're keeping our paws crossed. But in the mean time we know he is safe and out of the weather and has a full tummy and no one in the neigborhood is being mean to him anymore.
    Hope everyone has a great day. Keep dry and warm!
    Chloe, the Queen Chiweenie

  • Hey there Dr. Pia

    I'm late posting today mom had to be in work early this morning. Minnow you are just the cutest little bugger in your coat. I'm wearing a sweater these days because my coat is a little snug. Mom needs to get me a new parka this weekend.

    Mom takes good care of her feral cat. She has a shelter for the food so it stays nice and dry and a house where they can sleep. The house is nice has real shingles and everything but we think they all sleep under the neighbors deck. I'll make sure mom puts some sugar in the water - thanks for the tip.

    Zoe

  • ''we have lots of feral kitties..people dump them at the end of the road..think they are in the middle of no-where..the ones we can trap we take and have fixed and we have lots of out buildings with little kitty shelters in them..and twice a day everybody gets to eat..Cora-Belle used to help Lucinda and Now, I do..the little guys need all the help they can get...Chewy

  • Hello Dr Pia and Minnow....posting late, guess better late then never ;-)
    what a pleasant surprise to see all these cute cats...#1 is gorgeous! !
    My heart goes out to the feral cats, it shouldn't be like this if there was responsible owners fixing their felines.
    Minnow you look adorable with that cute coat on....
    Yes indeed felines have feeling too! My heart goes out to those exposed to the eliments...shelters of all kinds can be a life saver.
    Before Kitty was deferaled/domesticated she would be hunkered down in a hole or under someone's deck, sometimes snowed in for days. I'm so glad she doesn't have to worry about that anymore.
    Love to all of you here and all the critters not having a home.
    delia & Kitty >{^. .^}<

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