Thursday, December 05, 2013
Project Feral Cat Shelter
The temperature dropped down to a miserable -26° Celsius last night (-14.8° F). Before turning in for the night, The Frenchman donated one of his wool sweaters for the feral cat (aka Barney) to sleep on and we left a late night snack out for him.
I worried though.
To give you an idea of just how cold it is, there is ice forming on the inside of our double pane windows. This, in spite of the fact that we programmed our furnace to keep the house a steady 20° C during the night (60° F).
This morning, I launched Project Feral Cat Shelter at first light.
Barney has taken refuge inside an old kitchen cabinet that's stored in one of our outbuildings. It's elevated on legs and has one door. It's a small space, which is good, but it's not very warm, even with the bedding that was stuffed inside.
I had to work quickly, because I knew that as long as I was in the outbuilding, Barney would be outside hiding in the snow, getting colder by the minute. I was very aware of the temperature because even bundled up as I was in my winter wardrobe, it didn't take long before my fingers and toes were chilled and hurting.
The first thing I did was line the inside of the cabinet with pink insulation. I covered that with old rag rugs, securing them in place, then I replaced the wool sweater inside for him to snuggle into. The end result is a small space reminiscent of a genie bottle and, hopefully, it will help Barney retain his body heat.
I put a remaining layer of pink insulation on top of the cabinet and threw the old, ratty quilt over top of that, allowing it to fall over the front of the cabinet far enough to partially cover the opening, while still leaving enough room for the cat to enter. The doorway faces a wall and the outbuilding itself provides very good protection from the wind.
As an aside, I was thrilled to find that Barney has been using the litter box I placed there for him. Yay!
Before I left, I created a feeding station nearby out of a cardboard box that I laid on its side. I put a 6" piece of foam on the floor of the box and covered it with a fake sheepskin 'rug'. Fresh kibble and a container with hot water is inside. According to several websites I've visited, the cat will get used to the routine and drink from the water before it freezes, if I adhere to a regular schedule. A pinch of sugar added to the water adds a caloric boost and keeps the water from freezing as fast, too.
I sincerely hope my efforts help keep Barney safe and warm. I'm trusting that all the recent activity doesn't drive him away, although I'm sure he will continue to come for the food, if nothing else.
Here are some links that provide helpful information if you're caring for an outdoor cat this winter:
- Humane Society
- Jean Nash
- Alley Cat