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Winterizing feral cat colonies

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Wintertime is especially hard on our feral cat friends. With no real shelter many don’t make it through—but you can help these wild creatures make it through. True, feral cats are not forthcoming to humans and do not trust them; even the ones who bring them food and water. Still we love them and want to help them.

Some of the things you will need to help these undomesticated felines are kitten food, water, bowls, and a large dog crate, plastic totes with doors cut in them, blankets, straw, and a little catnip.

Supply your feral cat community with an ample amount of kitten food. Kitten food is higher in both protein and calories, and will help feral cats put on winter weight, which will make them better equipped to endure harsh winter conditions. Cats have a propensity for eating around dawn and dusk, so situate the food outside at those times each day. Use lots and lots of bowls, because too few bowls will cause fights between feral cats. Situate the bowls in safe hiding places, such under bushes or in out of the way corners. Feral cats are edgy individuals; so do not stand there and stare at them—no matter how cute they are-- and never set the bowls out in the open, or they will not eat.

Bring fresh water outside daily for the feral cats. Check the water as often as you can and replace it if it is frozen. You can also use heated bowls.

Make shelter available the feral cats. Put out large dog crates or plastic totes with doors cut out lined with blankets or straw. Cardboard boxes can be used, especially if you weatherproof them with contact paper, as long as they are positioned on their sides, as an open top will leave the feral cats exposed to the elements. Leave crates in hushed, safe places, and try to steer clear of this area as much as possible.

Whenever possible, trap your feral cats and take them to the veterinarian for neutering and spaying, then release them back into their natural habitat...

Feeding that one neighborhood feral cat often causes many more to show up, meaning you can go from feeding one cat to feeding 20 in a moderately short time. Involve a cat-loving friend or two to help with this important project.

Sadly, feral cats can carry diseases such as feline leukemia or cat AIDS, and others which can quickly spread to any pet cats you may have, therefore keep house cats away from feral animals.

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