It’s the beginning of November and although it is the most perfect fall day today, those brisk cold nights aren’t far away from us. While domestic cats have warm shelter and the comfort of a nice couch to curl up on every night, many stray cats do not have that luxury. These homeless cats are defenseless when it comes to these harsh winters. Generally speaking, cats will grow a thicker coat for winter to protect them, but they still need shelter to protect them from hypothermia and frostbite. If you happen to see some feral cats out this winter, here are some helpful ways to keep them warm and have a safe place to go on those blisteringly cold nights!

1. Create your own DIY cat shelter

If you have some old storage bins laying around this winter consider turning them into the perfect shelter for any stray cats you see this winter. These bins are a perfect shelter for the kitties and a super simple DIY project if you’re feeling crafty!

You will need 2 plastic bins ( one small enough to fit inside the larger one), a bail of straw, and a box cutter. This article by Thistle Downs Farm shows a perfect step by step breakdown of how to build your own DIY winter cat shelter.

  • Cut a hole in the side of each bin big enough that the cats can get in and out but small enough so that a predator cannot get inside then insulate the shelter.
  • The hole should be able 6-8 inches in diameter. Cut one hole into each plastic bin and then place one bin inside the other and begin insulating.
  • For insulation, use straw from your local Tractor Supply or visit your local pet store. Straw is perfect for insulting your cat shelter as it will keep them warm and dry from the elements outside.

2. Provide plenty and food and water

It is important that cats are well fed and hydrated especially in these winter months as keeping warm burns a significant number of calories. Alley Cat Allies recommends increasing portions of about 20-30% of the normal rate of food. Wet food is a great source of fuel for them in the winter and takes less energy to digest than dry food. You can also add a little bit of water to the wet food as well, which we keep them hydrated. Keeping dry food out throughout the day is great for some extra calories as well. 

Be sure to set out fresh water at least twice a day for them.

For more tips on feeding feral cats this winter, check out Alley Cat Allies! 

3. Check your cars!

If you are familiar with cat behavior, then you already know that they are very resourceful animals. When it comes to the winter months, cats have been known to crawl up in the engines of cars seeking warmth. They have also been known to climb up in the wheel wells of cars when trying to escape those windy nights. Before starting your car, check your engine and in those wheel wells for any kitties trying to escape the cold!