View Full Version : Ferral Cats: How do I Keep Them Warm?

12-19-2008, 11:30 AM
This may not seem like a major problem, but I am concerned about the ferral (wild) cats we are feeding on our back deck. There are three fuzzy cats. DH built them a "cat house" and put old rugs in there. They are sleeping in it although I didn't think they would go in. We can't touch them; they run away. I am a worry wart, always looking for something to stew about. But I'm thinking that even that wooden shelter won't be enough. Can cats survive the temperatures we are expecting this coming weekend? Single digits predicted here Sunday and Monday mornings. Any comments or ideas would be appreciated. Are there any who have had experience with this among you? What can we do?:(:(

12-19-2008, 11:37 AM
I have used a heating pad, set on low. Also you can hang a small light in the house that will generate a little heat. Some people have made "pillows" out of thick straw that they can hunker down in and make a warm nest. If you want to go to the expense, the pet stores have dog house heaters, but I would think that could get pretty expensive.

12-19-2008, 12:16 PM
Those are wild cats, and can make it through the winter.
We have a barn full, who sleep in the hay.

However...if you would fix them a big box ... lay it on it's side with a tow sack hanging down almost to the bottom...on open end...and fill it with STRAW...(get one at the feed store-a bale)....cause if you live in MO or AR or nearby alot of the hay has fescue grass in it....and that can cause animals to scratch themselves til the fur is gone...HAY is not good actually as bedding..but STRAW is.

We had a German Shepard/Border Collie that was an outside dog...he was too nervous to ever come inside...but he had a great dog house...we did not heat it in anyway, because if you heat a dog house or a barn, etc etc, and the animal becomes too warm they will get pneumonia ....

Just like putting cows in a barn where they crowd together, ...they warm too much from the body heat, and when they go back outside they catch pneumonia.

Sometimes outside animals and wild animals are better off in the elements rather than in domesticated situations, because people feel sorry for them.

I learned the hard way...many years ago.

Do you know that a 100 watt light bulb makes a lot of heat in a small dog house?

12-19-2008, 12:27 PM
Our outdoor cat has a box in our garage. Garage is not heated, but the bottom of her box is lined with a couple of old rugs. Then, her pillows are the camo cushions for hunters ---- you know the kind ----- you sit on them and the pellets inside them warm up. Keep her so nice and cozy that she never wants to leave her box ---- I usually have to pick her up and put her outside! My cousin has outdoor cats and she 'made' houses for them. Took cardboard boxes and covered them with trash bags, which would keep the wind and water out. Only part she didn't cover was the door for the cats to enter the box.

12-19-2008, 02:27 PM
We had a dog house for one of our dogs that had a small 5 watt light bulb in it. It was warm enough for the dog that it melted the snow and ice off the top of the dog house. I think you've gotten some great advice here on how to keep them warm. Believe it or not, if they are Ferrel Cats -- they are used to "fending" for themselves, but any help you can give them will help out I'm sure. Besides, I've seen the time that after a while (a long while) some ferrel cats warm up to those who are helping them, and sometimes will let them get close and even pick them up. Especially if they have young ones.

You are an animal lover and don't want to see any animal who might not be prepared to deal with the cold deal with it. Kudos to you and your family!


12-19-2008, 03:06 PM
I have been feeding feral cats on my back deck for several years. I too, feel sorry for the poor creatures......

During the hours that our local animal shelter is open, I set a "live-trap" & catch the cats 1 @ a time & deliver them to the shelter. The folks there are trained to handle the wild ones. If the cat is "salvageable" it will be given food, a warm place to live, meds., & will be neutered & then, offered up for adoption.....

Neutering & medical attention is the most important thing that can be done for a "pet"; wild or otherwise. A kitten, only 5 months old can start producing her own litters...do the math......:eek:

12-21-2008, 06:59 PM
Thank you all for your thoughtful, helpful responses to my questions. Each of you has given us a good idea(s).

To let you know what we have done/are doing: Husband built a strong, wooden box with a lid on top that we could open to clean it out if we need to. It has a small hole, big enough for a cat, probably not big enough for a dog or coyote. There is a baffled "vestibule" so the wind won't blow right in on them. They can go around to the back and curl up. We put in old fuzzy rugs. We feed and water them twice a day. They meow loudly when DH goes out with their food, walk around his legs, but won't stand still to be petted.

They are second generation at our back door. Their mother came while pregnant, then surprise, surprise, presented us with two litters before she disappeared. She was mostly Siamese, in color and with the blue eyes. But very wild and afraid.

They appeared to have been okay last night, although it became very cold. We didn't have any rain, snow or sleet, and the wind settled down. Our high temperature today was about 22, and sunny. The cats were seen playing on the porch. Overnight tonight it's supposed to be zero.

You all gave us several ideas we might try to produce a small amount of heat during extremely cold nights, maybe just enough to take the edge off. Husband has one of those things hunters use for heat we could use.

I totally agree with your thought, Crazy4Branson, about catching them in a live trap and taking them to the local animal shelter. Medical care and neutering is the responsible thing to do. But the shelter here has no room, especially for cats. They won't even take phone calls now. We continue to donate to their thrift shop to help with expenses.

Cheesecake, thank you for your lesson in animal care, and perhaps saving us from learning the hard way.

As a newbie, I appreciate it that you all wrote thoughtful answers, and didn't make fun of me. I am ordinarily a "dog nut." This is my first time to work with cats.

12-21-2008, 07:05 PM
I used to have a pet carrier that I wrapped blankets in. My stray cat would curl up in there and have a great winter. Now I have 3 rabbits in outdoor hutches and some nights I worry all night they are freezing. But, we double tarped the tops and sides, and even put a flap over the front doors. Then I bought a bale of straw ($4 WOW) and covered the bottoms of their cages. They are so sweet. I wish I could put them together so they could cuddle and stay warm. I bet you can figure out why that won't happen! 2 are big white California males. I named them Dis and Dat. Daisy is a mini female black lop. I hope they all have a good winter. Yours too.

12-21-2008, 07:07 PM
We are right there with you,
We feed a couple of cats,
We put the old swimming pool cover over the back deck chairs, to keep them dry, after all that rain and sleet we had.
We also have a light bulb out on the deck...
I feel so sorry for them, :(