It's COLD outside, but you probably already know that. And if you're worried about your feral friends...
"First Do No Harm"
We are getting calls from people worried about how the cats are going to handle the below freezing temps this week and next.
If the cats are healthy, if they have survived well to this point, if they have shelter of some sort, they should be fine.
The outside wall of a foundation can be as warm as 50 degrees, cats tend to accumulate debris to form an insulating layer close to a foundation if they are sheltering under a deck.
Cat shelters, as long as they are protected from wind blowing in, can be very toasty. Leaning a board in front of the door, forming a foyer before the cats turn to get into the shelter can be a big help.
Cats can gain several pounds for the winter, that layer of fat insulates them well. The worst thing you can do is entice a cat out of its shelter just to check on it. That interrupts warmth, expends much needed calories, brings them out into the harsh conditions you wish to protect them from. Even if you don't see them for several days, they can tolerate it, with reserves they have built up for just this purpose. Have plenty of dry food available and try to have unfrozen water available for several hours each day.
Most cats will seek you out if they need help, that is when you should respond. Do not assume a limping cat is injured. Ice clumps can form in the hair on the pads of their feet, making it uncomfortable to walk. Ice melts, limping goes away.
People will let feral cats into their homes to save them from freezing temperatures.
There are consequences. If the cat freaks out, it will try to climb the windows and anything else it can. If it has a flea egg or two, those will hatch out. Usually they are really good about litter box usage but then there's that male that will be fearful and anoint everything it can. By the same token, if this cat has truly decided to be an inside cat, it will be careful, quiet and considerate. Be sure to really think about it before you open that door. We get calls to trap ferals in homes in the Spring, cats who were not prepared for inside life.
Some stray cats were able to be returned to their owners this year because the people finding them used a "Next Door" Facebook page to advertise them. If you have a "Next Door" group in your neighborhood, please share our winter cat care tips. If you then help just one cat, you will have done a wonderful thing!
Thank you for caring about the cats!