Help For Strays and Ferals in the winter

by Mary in NC
(North Caroilina, USA)

RUDY (One of my sweet Ferals)

RUDY (One of my sweet Ferals)

It is December 19,2009 and here in North Carolina, USA we have been hit with our first big snowfall of the season.

Travel is impossible and the temperatures are well below freezing. Brrrrrrrrrrr
People are stranded in their cars and businesses are closed.
Basically our state is in emergency status until the roads are passable.

With all this being said, my mind turns (as it always does) to the perils and hardships of the stray cats who are finding it hard to find food and proper shelter in this weather.
Last night when the forecast came out,I went right away to the store to stock up on food for the strays.

I have bedding laid out on my screened in porch to accommodate the four strays that regularly come there to find food, so hopefully they will take me up on my temporary bedding provision that I have left for them which is out from under the falling snow and ice.

I know people probably get tired of me writing about helping the ferals and strays but they hold my heart strings as they did not ask to be born and they struggle to survive in conditions like this.
Therefore I wanted to make a few suggestions to the other cat lovers out there in the UK as well as the USA as to how they might help these unfortunate animals in their time of need.

If you live in the USA, ALL STATES AND MAJOR CITIES have a network online called FREECYCLE.
For those of you who dont know what Freecycle is:
It is an online network where people can join (membership is free) and then you can post anything that you might need and I do mean about ANYTHING or post anything that you no longer need for others to find and use.
You can also post anything that you no longer need and if someone sees your post and needs what you have to offer then you email them and offer it to them.
The bottom rule being that All things offered be given away FREE, thus the name FREECYCLE.
You can find freecycle online at www.freecycle.com
You will be prompted to enter your city and state and it will direct you to the closest Freecycle network in your area.
I am not sure if this is available in the UK or not.

I have found all kinds of helpful pet items there ranging from food that other peoples animals don't like to dog houses and blankets and toys for cats.
This past week when I heard the forecast. I had an idea.

I went on FREECYCLE and posted that I am seeking dog houses that other people may no longer need so I can use them for feral housing this winter.
To my surprise, God blessed me with 4 emails from kind hearted cat lovers who had dog houses they no longer use.
One person even donated to me an un-used childs plastic playhouse that her grandchildren have outgrown so I can turn it into a "kitty lodge".

My plan is this:
I will pick up the dog houses and the playhouse that was given to me FREE and place warm bedding in them and then run an outdoor insulated extension cord with a 40 watt light bulb attached to an auto repair light and hang it in the ceiling of the dog houses and in the evenings, I turn on the light inside the dog houses and the light WARMS the inside of the house for the kitty's at night.
Another idea is to install heating pads inside the dog houses under the bedding and turn them on at night to provide warmth to the cats sleeping there at night.
If you have no means of providing electric means of warmth then lining the house floor with HAY is another good idea as Hay does not hold water or dampness.
A flap of carpet over the door holds out the wind and rain.

I will be preparing my four dog houses and my "kitty playhouse" today and lining them up in a nice little row on the edge of the woods on my property where I see the ferals most of the time and this will be my little "FERAL HOTELS" for them to seek refuge from the elements.
I will of course keep fresh food and water out there and using HEATED water feeders keep the water from freezing.
All the things that I need to provide these Kitty hotels was obtained from FREECYCLE and cost me NOTHING!
The cats appreciate and NEED this kind of assistance when the weather is un-kind to them and their needs.

So from one "CRAZY CAT LOVER" to many others, I say
Remember the strays and ferals and give them a helping hand in the winter.
Happy Holidays to all

Mary in NC USA

comment by Kate
Yes Mary Greecycle in in the UK too. I use it frequently.

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