Winter can be tough for pets, but it can be even worse for those that don’t have a home and are roaming the cold streets alone. Stray cats face a big problem in the cold and do what they can to stay alive. Here are a four simple things you can do to help stray cats keep warm and well fed this winter.
1. Build a shelter
Whilst cats have fur and can regulate their body temperature, that unfortunately isn’t enough once the cold sets in. A makeshift animal shelter is a blessing to those that don’t have anywhere to go in the winter. DIY cat shelters are inexpensive and can be made from cheap items from around the house. When making a shelter use insulating materials that will reflect the cats body heat and repel moisture (like Styrofoam), and keep them as compact as possible. Fill the insides with straw, an old blanket, or old clothes for extra warmth, and, if you’re feeling generous, add a little catnip.
2. Leave out some food
On a cold winter night, a little food can provide a stray or feral cat with much needed energy to help them stay warm. A small bowl of cat food, or even leftover chicken or other lean meat from your own meals will make a huge difference to a cat’s survival. If you’re feeling particularly handy, or if you live in a very cold climate, you might want to consider a building small food shelter to protect cat food from the weather and other animals. Feeding strays will help keep them out of bins and eating foods that could otherwise be poisonous to them.
3. Provide clean water
A stray or feral cat is able to survive without regular meals, but in order to manage a whole winter, they need access to a reliable source of uncontaminated water. Desperate cats may try to drink from puddles or gutters, which, in the winter, are more likely to be polluted with antifreeze, which be fatal if ingested by animals. Leave a bowl or bucket of clean water in your garden, and and check on it regularly to see whether it needs topping up or replacing, and to make sure that it hasn’t frozen over if the weather is particularly chilly.
4. Call a cat shelter
Whilst plenty of stray cats will be able to make it through the winter without any assistance, many of them will be especially susceptible to injuries and illness. If you find a stray cat who looks unwell, or if there is one in your neighbourhood that you’re particularly worried about, and you think that it needs urgent attention, call the RSPCA’s emergency line on 0300 1234 999 (UK), and get advice on what to do next.
Featured Image via Self Service