Tuesday, October 9, 2012

You Can Help Help Stray & Feral Cats This Winter!

The Old Farmers Almanac's  2012-2013 long range winter weather predictions (80 percent–accurate weather forecasts) predicts that winter temperatures in the Dallas/Wylie areas will be slightly colder than normal, on average, with precipitation and snowfall near or a bit above normal. The coldest periods will occur in late December and early January and through much of February. The snowiest periods will be in early to mid-February and early March.

Brrr!  Brrr!  Brrr!

Winter seems to advance earlier than expected this year in Texas.  With the cooler temperatures felt throughout our area last weekend, many of our neighbors scrambled to the nearest home improvement stores buying up heaters, electric blankets, warm socks and slippers.

But, what happens to the stray and feral cats left outside during severe weather?

If you have stray cats on your property, how do you plan on keeping them warm?  Need some ideas?  In-Sync Exotics to the rescue!  Here are a few tips on how to keep stray and feral cats safe during the cold winter months:

Step 1:  Build an Outdoor Shelter

Feral and stray cat shelters are easy and rather inexpensive to build.  If you happen to love carpentry, than you’ll want to build your own cat house (click HERE to learn more about building an inexpensive cat shelter).  You can also modify a pre-built dog house or purchase pre-built cat shelters.

Great for snow
Key things to remember when installing the shelter: 
(1) If you plan to place a shelter on someone else’s land, be sure to ask for permission first;
(2) A good size for a shelter is at least 2’x3’ and at least 18” high. Larger shelters are not necessarily better, since heat disperses quickly, leaving the inside as cold as the outside.  So if you have multiple feral cats on the property (and they all get along reasonably well), you’ll want to provide shelter boxes that can comfortably house 3-5 cats;
(3) Make sure the shelter is elevated off the ground and rests in a quiet and draft-free area that has limited amount of foot traffic or human activity;
(4) Make sure your little house has a door flap no more than 6-8 inches wide to keep out predators and other unwelcome wildlife;
(5) Insulate the shelter with straw to repel moisture and keep cats warm and dry (Note: Make sure it’s straw and not hay because hay absorbs moisture—easy way to remember – horses eat hay and sleep on straw). Old blankets and towels may seem like a good idea, but since they are also extremely absorbent, they make bad bedding. 

During the months of October and November, many stores sell small bales of straw as a decorative feature for the outside of your home.  A small bale may be ideal for a small cat house.  If you can only purchase a larger bale, please consider sharing a portion of your bale with other caregivers.  Be sure to store straw off the ground and keep it dry by storing indoors.  If kept in a good area, the leftover straw can be used again the following year!

Hay is for food...

while straw is for bedding.



Step 2:  Provide a Feeding Station, Meals, and Water

In addition to a shelter, you’ll want to provide a simple feeding station with a roof and sides to protect cats from the elements while they eat.  We know that keeping food and drinking water from freezing may be challenging to our fans living up North in much colder temperatures.  Cat will be looking to conserve energy, even when it comes to eating, so the most ideal meal for winter feeding is moist wet food.  Moist wet food takes less energy for the cats to digest than dry food—and during those cold winter months, the cats can use all the extra energy to stay warm in their shelter boxes.  It is very important to keep a regular feeding schedule every day, that way the cats spend less time in the elements. The cats will come to depend on you for their meals. On average, you can expect an adult feral cat to eat roughly 5.5 ounces of wet moist cat food and 2 ounces of dry food daily in temperate weather (add a half cup to that amount if only feeding dry food).  In colder weather, make sure to feed larger portions than you usually do for an extra caloric boost.  If the cats eat all the food within 15 minutes, you may want to put more food out for them.

To keep the food and water fresh try to feed the cats in the morning and during the day, if you are home. Feeding at night encourages other wildlife (including stray dogs) to visit your yard and eat the food instead of the cats. If you feed other nocturnal wildlife, you definitely want to feed them in a different area of your yard at night!

Keeping water from freezing can be challenging during the cold winter months and can cause the cats to suffer from dehydration if they do not drink enough water each day.  You can help keep the water drinkable by (1) checking on the water bowl often and replacing frozen water with hot or warm drinkable water (2) use deep water bowls filled with water instead of using small wide shallow water bowls.  A pinch of sugar in the water keeps it from freezing quickly and may provide an extra boost of energy for the cats (and we do mean a pinch please!); and (3) try to keep the water bowls in in the sun and use dark colored bowls that will absorb the sun’s heat or purchase heated electric or solar water bowls found in pet stores to keep the water from freezing.

Step 3:  Important Tips to Remember
  • If you keep your car outside at night, remember to give the hood a really good tap and check between the tires before starting your car—cats will sometimes crawl into the engine or hide underneath the car for warmth.
  • Antifreeze danger—deadly toxin!  Winter is also the time of year for antifreeze, which tastes sweet and irresistible to animals.  Keep it out of reach of small children and animals.  Don’t forget to clean up any spills, no matter how small!
  • Remember to shovel out cat shelters areas when you’re shoveling your own driveway. Cats in shelters can get snowed in, so keep their entrances clear and shovel an exit for cats who may be taking refuge under bushes, porches, or other hiding spots.
  • Stay away from salt and chemical melting products. These products can be toxic to animals and harmful to their natural snowshoes—paws!

Tobias snuggling up in his den, staying nice and warm! 2011

Even though the weather may seem "brrr" to us, the cats are just loving the cooler weather.  We won't be putting down straw for cats' den boxes until the temperature starts to drop into the upper 40s.  So, for now, we shake out the dust from our jackets and coats, prepare shelters for the stray and feral cats, plus enjoy the change of season all around us!

If you have great tips on how to care for stray and feral cats, we'd love to hear from you.  Just fill-out the comment box below and share your knowledge with your In-Sync Exotics' blog family!

We hope you enjoyed today's blog posting! Be sure to check back tomorrow for more fun and informative information about our exotic cats and their friends of In-Sync Exotics! Don't forget to let us know your reaction to this posting by clicking on one of the reaction buttons below--and share this blog posting with others please ~ Thank you!


  1. Licensing and laws do nothing to curb the problem. If cats are required to be licensed then cat-lovers just stop putting collars on their cats, as they did by me. And they won't even bother getting them micro-chipped, especially not that They want absolutely nothing that can hold them legally responsible, liable, and accountable for the actions of their cats. We're not talking about the topmost responsible citizens of the world, you know. They don't want that responsibility of what their cat has done coming back on them. If they had even one iota of a sense of responsibility and respect for all other lives on this planet we wouldn't even be having these discussions.

    On the other hand, I found something that DOES work, and works well, and works fast (well, relative to the years it takes trying to reason with deceitful and lying cat-lovers that accomplishes ABSOLUTELY NOTHING). Where I live cat-lovers have learned that _ALL_ cats, stray and feral, collared or not, ear-tipped or not (because TNR con-artist liars now just clip cats' ears only without sterilizing or vaccinating them, to protect their hoarded cats from being trapped and euthanized), _ALL_ their cats are humanely shot on sight and buried whenever found away from supervised confinement.

    The ONLY thing that works is destroying any of their cats found outdoors on your property. They either learn to stop getting more cats that die under the wheels of cars or from animal attacks, or they finally learn how to be a responsible pet owner, respectful neighbor, and learn to keep their invasive species animal under confined supervision, as it should be. Win win win all around. You can either destroy their cat for them humanely, or let their lack of concern for their cat cause it to die inhumanely. Your choice. By destroying their cat for them humanely you are showing them that you care more about their cat than even they do. A bullet is by far the most humane death that any free-roaming cat will ever meet. Anything else is all inhumanely downhill from there. Their only other options are being hit by cars, environmental poisons, cat & animal attacks, disease and parasites, freezing to death, baking to death, etc.

    You can't train a cat to stay home but I found that, in time, you CAN train a cat-owner into being a responsible pet-owner and a respectable neighbor. Most of them are so phenomenally stupid, disrespectful, and criminally irresponsible though that you have to make at least 12-15 of their cats permanently disappear before they even start to figure out what they've been doing wrong all during their sorry, useless, and pathetic lives.

    If you live in an area where its not legal to use firearms to destroy any animal that is threatening the health and safety of you, your family, your animals, or property (as it *IS* legal in most every area of the nation -- shoot to maim is animal cruelty but shoot to kill is a perfectly legal way to humanely destroy any nuisance animal on your own property); then check into laws regarding air-rifles. Ones with ballistics speeds of 700-1200 fps and using pointed vermin-pellets are often advised for use on vermin in no-firearms zones. Many of the newer ones even come with their own sound-suppressor designs built-in, being specifically designed for shooting vermin cats in urban areas, the demand is that great. Failing that, then there's always the SSS and TDSS Cat Management Programs that are exploding in popularity worldwide. Shoot, Shovel, & Shut-Up; or Trap, Drown, Shovel, & Shut-Up. Both methods are legal on every square foot of this earth. No local laws were violated if it never happened! (In cases where cats have already learned to evade all trapping methods, then inexpensive generic 1-adult-strength acetaminophen (overseas a.k.a. paracetamol) pain-relievers are a more species specific vermin poison. But you really need to dispose of that carcass safely so that native wildlife won't die from the many deadly diseases cats spread even after their death.)

    Good luck!

    1. I find that shocking and appalling! I have had issues with neighbors lacking responsibility for their cats and choose instead to believe in natural laws and Gods care of these creatures! We can only do so much and then we have to let go. Education can help but some people are sick and I strongly feel shooting their cats isn't the answer report them to the police or local animal control. Let the authorities humanly put down animals if need be!

    2. The law in the USA is that it is perfectly legal to destroy any animal, someone's pet or not, that is threatening the health, well-being, and safety of yourself, your family, your animals, or even your property. Also true even in most densely populated cities, firearms laws permitting, if not then 700-1200fps air-rifles are commonly used. The only animals exempt from you taking immediate action, legally, are those listed on endangered or threatened species lists, and any bird species under protection of MBTA (the Migratory Bird Treaty Act). Even then variances can be given should there be sufficient problem but this requires further study by authorities. Since cats are listed in the TOP 40 WORST invasive species of the world in the "Global Invasive Species Database" ( www.issg.org/database/species/ecology.asp?si=24&fr=1&sts=sss ), this means they have no protection whatsoever from being shot on sight, they are not on any protected species list anywhere in the world. Quite the opposite as a matter of fact. And if your area enforces and obeys invasive species laws -- as they should -- then it is against the law to NOT destroy any cat on sight, someone's pet or not. It is your civic and moral responsibility to destroy any invasive species that is found away from supervised confinement and roaming freely in a non-native habitat.

      Shoot to maim is punishable under the laws that define animal-cruelty (these are the ONLY cases that cat-lovers cite to try to manipulate and scare everyone from shooting their only favorite animal). But shoot to kill is a perfectly legal way to humanely destroy an animal. The same laws and principles that apply to methods of humanely hunting animals also applies to cats. Unlike cat-lovers' psychotic beliefs, the reality is that a cat is just another animal. It's NOT their baby, their child, their offspring. Even if they do view their cats that way, letting them roam free is no less criminally irresponsible than them telling their child to go play in the freeway and then blaming the cars for their child's death. If they let their cat roam free, NO MATTER HOW IT DIES, that is THEIR fault and they can be charged with all laws that clearly define animal-neglect, animal-abandonment, and animal-endangerment. Not to mention being in direct violation of all international invasive species laws in existence.

      In fact, here's a publication from a study done by the University of Nebraska on the best ways to HUMANELY deal with a feral-cat problem wherever you live. This documentation INCLUDES the best firearms, ammo, and air-rifles required to HUMANELY destroy cats. deenawinter.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/ec1781.pdf

      Besides, what difference does it make if the cat gets shot or ran over by a car, attacked by another cat or animal, drowned, or poisoned by plants animals or chemicals (inexpensive 1-adult-strength generic acetaminophen pain-relievers gaining in popularity, for being so species specific). The result is the same. The cause is the same -- the fault of the criminally irresponsible pet-owner that let their invasive species pet roam free. They've already proved that their animal is 100% expendable. You can either destroy their cat for them humanely, or let their lack of care cause it to inevitably die inhumanely. They don't care one bit how their cat might cruelly suffer to death if they let it roam free. Humanely destroy their cat for them before that can happen. A well aimed bullet is the MOST humane death that ANY stray or feral cat can ever look forward to. Any other death that they WILL eventually face is all inhumanely downhill from there.

  2. In-Sync Exotics does not advocate the destruction of any animal, including stray and feral cats. We will publish comments that may be contrary to our stated mission because we believe in free speech and that it's important to share individuals’ view points on a variety of subjects.

    We thank you for your comments and look forward to reading some more on this topic!

    1. But you condone and pay for the murder MILLIONS of animals to feed your carnivore cats, eh? Hypocrite much?

      You might also enjoy knowing ...

      If you advocate for cats as rodent-control on farms and ranches you've already doomed them to being destroyed by drowning or shooting when it becomes a financial liability more than any asset. Ranchers and farmers worldwide are fully aware that cats' Toxoplasma gondii parasite can cause the very same birth defects (hydrocephaly and microcephaly), still-births, and miscarriages in their livestock and important wildlife as it can in pregnant women. Consequently, this is also how this cats' brain-parasite gets into your meats and onto your dinner-tables, from herbivores ingesting this cat-parasites' oocysts in the soils, transferred to the plants and grains that they eat. Not even washing your hands in bleach will destroy this parasites' oocysts if you have contracted it from your garden or yard that a cat has defecated in.

      This is why any cats are ROUTINELY destroyed around gestating livestock and wildlife management areas in the most efficient, humane, and least expensive method available. Common rural practice everywhere. The risk of financial loss from dead livestock and important native wildlife from an invasive species cat is far too great to do otherwise. This cats' parasite is now even killing off rare marine mammals along all coastal regions from run-off containing this cat-parasites' oocysts.

      The next time you bite into that whole-grain veggie-muffin or McBurger, you need to just envision biting down on a shot-dead or drowned kitten or cat. For that's precisely how that food supply got to your mouth -- whether you want to face up to it or not. It's not going to change reality no matter how much you twist your mind away from the truth of your world.

      If you want to blame someone for the drowning and shooting of cats, you need to prosecute yourself -- every time you eat.

  3. In-Sync Exotics does not advocate the destruction of any animal, including stray and feral cats. We are within our rights, as moderator of this blog, to refrain from posting any more comments that are not on topic and upsets our readership. Thank you.

  4. You don't need to build a shelter. I got a dog house on Craigslist for free. A few winters ago when it was REALLY cold, I bought an electric blanket that would stay on for 12 hours and put it, folded up, in the doghouse, then put a dog bed on top of it. I put the wall of the doghouse up against the wall of my house with the entrance close to the back of my house to cut down on drafts, and put a picnic table over top of the doghouse to cut down on any moisture. Then, when I'd leave food and water out, I put them as close to the entrance of the doghouse as I could.

    I never actually saw the one feral cat in my nieghborhood go into the house, but she was eating he food so she knew it was there. If she chose not to use it, at least I made it available for her and she came to me for food. I caught 3 of her kittens (she either had 3 or 4, but I only ever saw her with 3), AND her mate. The kittens were fixed and brought current on vaccinations and fostered with Feral Friends, and the mate I kept. My intention is to trap her and get her fixed; my vet has already given me the okay to bring her in without an appointment. But she's trap savvy, and I don't see her very often (NEVER in the warm months).

    A couple of friends of mine have managed to TNR all the ferals in their neighborhoods. One of them now has pregnant cats she's NEVER SEEN show up on her doorstep, and the cats will bring their kittens to her when they're weaned (and by "bring" I mean, "try to put them in her house", I don't mean "hey lemme show you my kids"). If that isn't proof animals can communicate, I don't know what is!

    Anonymous, you're an asshole. And a coward, too.

  5. Diana, I loved your tips, your story and most of all your last sentence!