As the warmth of late October gives way to chilly November, our thoughts begin to turn to the fate and conditions of the several cats in our neighborhood.
About two years ago, we started to notice that a handful of cats would come to visit our indoor cat, parading past the sliding glass door, peering in, preening themselves, looking for a fellow to play with... or maybe a hand out.
Quite innocently, we started putting a few pieces of dry cat food out on the step, to encourage them to come visit or at least reward them for their "friendship" with our indoor cat. After several months of panic, our indoor cat has settled down and accepted the fact that they aren't coming in, and she can't get to them, so why not just accept them and watch?
Our feeding of those external cats has increased to the point where we now buy a separate large bag of discount cat food and shovel a scoop into each of two bowls we set outside for them. The two orange cats have responded by coming regularly, morning, noon, and night, expecting to get a handout.
As the weather turns cold, we wonder where these cats are sleeping, and have decided to build them a "cat house" (No jokes please...)
There are a number of plans available via the internet, available under the expression "feral cat shelter plans" or something similar. http://www.neighborhoodcats.org/info/wintershelter.htm
I've discovered extremely detailed simple plans that are shared by various cat shelters that all seem to be drawn from the same set of plans. They show up in various forms on different websites. But there is also a school of thought that says more simple construction is better.
They suggest taking an 18 gallon plastic storage tub, cutting a round hole in the narrow end, ten inches up from the ground (for snow) and lining the inside with 1 inch styrofoam boards and straw for bedding. (Other versions show sound proofing batting on the walls to insulate.) Just snap on the lid, fasten it down, or flip it over and leave it in the sun.
And I've even seen one set of plans for a 2'x2'x2' cube made out of 2" blue styrofoam insulation board that is simply pegged together with short 5" wood dowels! How simple! It seems to me that that would be the lightest weight, but also might blow around in high winds when the "guests" are not home.
Whatever you decided to do or build, please do it before the weather turns freezing... as your area neighborhood cats are settling in for the winter, and they'd probably appreciate checking out the lodging before the snow flys, right?
For another heart-warming rescue story, click here: http://tinyurl.com/ye9vzud