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February 2024

Helping Feral Cats Survive the Cold Winter

Saturday, December 8, 2018
posted by Jim Murphy

We have lots of feral cats that live in our community. I feed several of them each day but on cold winter nights, how do they survive. You can make a cat shelter. A homemade shelter can be as simple as a styro foam cooler inside a plastic tub with spray insulation in between and elevated on bricks. published some guidelines on how to make your own shelter.

Alley Cat Allies recommends the feral cat shelter be at least 2-3 feet long and 18 inches high.  Bigger is not better. If the shelter is too big, the body heat will dissipate and it will feel as cold as it does outside. Choose the size of your shelter based on how many cats will use it.  The opening should let cats in but keep larger animals, and the wind and snow, out. Build your winter cat shelter in a safe spot concealed from predators where your feral cats can feel safe. Provide a buffer from wind and snow. Bushes, or a covering of fir branches, hide shelters well. Bales of straw are great insulation and a good windbreak. also recommends not to use anything folded on the floor of a shelter. It will absorb body heat and leave the cats cold. Stuff the shelter with straw or pillowcases stuffed with shredded newspaper or bags of packing peanuts. These allow the cats to burrow. Don’t use hay, it gets moist and moldy. Replace the bedding material if it gets dirty or wet.

There are also some high tech products that can help keep feral cats warm inside their shelter. The Snuggle Safe company makes a hard plastic disc you can microwave and put in a shelter to provide warmth.  They will stay warm for 8-10 hours depending on the outdoor temperature. Hot Hands products used by outdoor sport participants are less durable, and not reusable, but can serve the same purpose.

Thanks to for providing the valuable information.

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