Monday, November 2, 2015

How To Save #Cats Lives This Winter by Karen Rose Smith

If you have outside cats or feral and strays in your area, now is the time to think about sheltering them from the elements. Depending on the type of shelter and how close it is to your house, you can buy electric heat pads to insert inside of them. If they are on the outskirts of your property where electric is not accessible, then straw is the best bedding. Blankets and towels in cold temperatures hold moisture and mildew. The straw (not hay) will stay dryer and be warmer for the cats.

Igloo shelter
Igloo shelter with hay bales
We have an igloo shelter in our tomato garden that you can find at PetSmart, Petco or on Amazon (links at end of blog). There are different sizes and styles. If the igloo is too large, it will not keep the feline as warm. We further insulate by putting hay bales around the igloo. We insert an electric heat pad made for the igloo inside it. I use K&H heat pads (link below) that are made for inside an outdoor shelter. They make sizes specifically for igloos and other sizes that can be used in shelters like the cedar ones below from ArkWorkshop. The heat pads warm to the cat's body temperature when he or she sits on it.

Feralvilla shelter
This feral shelter from (link below) has two entrances and an insulated loft bed we line with straw. We positioned it under the deck to protect it further.

ArkWorkshop cedar shelter
Cedar shelter surrounded by hay bales to ward off wind

This cedar shelter can be ordered with one or two entrances from (link at end of blog). Feral cats always look for an exit so they won't be trapped. We have a K&H heat pad (link below) in this one. Wait time for shelters from ArkWorkshop can be two months at this time of year, but you could still order one now for those bitter January days and nights. 

ArkWorkshop shelter with straw for bedding

Feral and stray cats have a difficult time finding clean water in winter. We provide a heated water bowl on our patio. 

Outside feeding station from

There are many DIY (do-it-yourself) shelter instructions on the Internet and YouTube. Follow the links below to and to view a few.

How do you lead cats to these shelters? In the summer and fall, I periodically sprinkle the threshold and entrances with catnip. It's not a good idea to put food inside a shelter because of attracting other creatures. The catnip seems to do the trick. Last winter we knew for sure that two of the shelters were being used. 

I hope these shelter ideas and links help you save a few feral and stray cats' lives this winter.


Igloo Shelter at PetSmart
Igloo Shelter at Petco
Igloo Shelter on Amazon
K&H Heat Pad on Amazon
Feral Shelters from
Feral Shelters from
DIY Shelters on
DIY Shelters from


In my Caprice De Luca Home Staging mystery series, my sleuth Caprice takes in stray cats and dogs and finds them forever loving homes!



Caprice De Luca's former client and now friend Ace Richland--an 80's rock star--asks her for a favor.  Can she quickly stage his girlfriend's house to sell?  Widow Alanna Goodwin, a transplanted Southern beauty, will be moving in with him!  Immediately Caprice realizes Alanna's southern charm can be turned on and off at will.  Caprice agrees to stage Alanna's Kismet antebellum-styled mansion for Ace's sake.  But she soon learns Alanna doesn't have a genuine love for her cat Mirabelle and also uncovers a plot her new client is hatching to sabotage Ace's comeback.  However, before she can tell Ace, Alanna is murdered and Ace is the prime suspect.  

As Caprice investigates, she learns Alanna had more secrets than pie safes.  With her Cocker Spaniel Lady by her side, she tracks down clues and adopts Alanna's cat.  In the midst of some of her own family upheaval--her uncle has moved in with her parents--she finds herself with a dilemma.  Grant Weatherford, her brother's law partner, advises Ace and reveals more of his past to her.  Seth Randolph, the doctor she dates, wants her to meet his family.  She must choose between them.

Danger stalks Caprice.  Will her refresher self-defense course save her life?  Only if she keeps her wits about her and Lady by her side.



Caprice De Luca  stages houses for high-end clients. When she discovers a body in the castle-mansion she staged to sell and starts asking questions, she finds herself in danger. On the way to solving the murder, Caprice's large Italian family helps and hinders. She also finds romance with Dr. Seth Randolph. But does her brother's partner, attorney Grant Weatherford, care about her, too? Or is he just worried she'll get herself killed and her family will blame him?

Enjoy solving the mystery with Caprice, cook along with her, see her find homes for the stray animals she protects, be a part of the De Luca STAGED TO DEATH.



Quiet Kismet, Pennsylvania, may look like any other small town, but as a home stager, Caprice De Luca can see behind closed doors--and it seems someone has designs on murder. . .Life is a full house for Caprice these days. She's dating, she's rescuing adorable cocker spaniels, and she's decorating the roomy interiors of Kismet's most well-heeled residents with fun fantasy themes. But she's worried about her pregnant sister. Bella's marriage is coming apart like a bad wallpaper job, and to make matters worse, she's decided to meet up with a former flame Bob Preston, a house painter Caprice frequently employs. When he's found dead in a pool of green paint swirling with blood, it's time for Caprice to stage an investigation. With all eyes trained on Bella's husband, Caprice shifts her attention from finding the perfect curtains to finding the perfect culprit. . .



Caprice De Luca's latest house staging is all about hearts, flowers, lace and chintz since Valentine's Day is around the corner.  She never expects her client to be murdered in the greenhouse the day of the open house.

With her six-month-old pup Lady by her side and her own love life in disarray, Caprice ferrets out clues from the victim's best friend, Caprice's mother, the housekeeper and a special male friend who insists his relationship with the victim was platonic.  However, as Caprice digs deeper, she finds the victim's past is filled with secrets that she kept from her husband for thirty years.

The past isn't merely history.  The present isn't always what it seems.  When hearts are involved, passion and even murder aren't far behind.


USA TODAY Bestselling Author Karen Rose Smith is an only child who delved into books at an early age. She learned about kindred spirits from Anne of Green Gables, solved mysteries with Nancy Drew and wished she could have been the rider on The Black Stallion. Yet even though she escaped often into story worlds, she had many aunts, uncles and cousins around her on weekends. Her sense of family and relationships began there. Maybe that's why families are a strong theme in her novels, whether mysteries or romances. Her 87th novel will be released in 2015.

Readers often ask her about her pastimes. She has herb, flowers and vegetable gardens that help her relax. In the winter, she cooks rather than gardens. And year round she spends most of her time with her husband, as well as her four rescued cats who are her constant companions. They chase rainbows from sun catchers, reminding her life isn't all about work, awards and bestseller lists. Everyone needs that rainbow to chase.

Karen looks forward to interacting with readers. They can find her at the links below. 



©2015 Karen Rose Smith


Patricia T said...

Thanks, Karen. I have one outside shelter, with a heating pad, made from a Styrofoam cooler and a plastic tote. I may make a second one, this winter. Plus, we put food out, each night, for the strays.

Sheryl Hagan-Booth said...

We sometimes get cats that are dropped off. Is it best to take them to the shelter or to give him Shelter? My husband does not like cats, but I always feel so bad for them. I am not sure what qualifies as a feral cat but these cats are sometimes just dropped off. Not necessarily wild. Do you feed them or just give them water?

KRS said...

Sheryl--you have to have a real love for cats to care for them well. We have a feeder and put out dry food twice a day for winter. We don't have a no kill shelter around so I've ne er used the shelter option. All 4 of our inside cats are rescues. The most recent, Halo, was a pregnant stray we took in over a year ago. We spent weeks building trust with her before we brought her in. One summer we cared for a yellow tabby who was injured with FIV. Your heart can get wrenched with these fur babies but there is joy in caring for them too. We have a stray who comes regularly twice a day to eat but won't be confined. I'd like to eventually bring him in but he's an outside cat clear through. We have 2 or 3 others who started coming to the feeder in the colder weather. They run at the littlest noise or the sight of us. One day at a time.

Jeannie D. said...

Thanks ?Karen, these are all great ideas. I have been wanting to find one of the heat pads, I am happy to find where to order one. Enjoy following your cat stories.

Fish Mom said...

I love that you take care of all the fur-babies around your home. I have loved watching Halo and the babies grow the past year. Sunny looks like my Molly but she isn't as plump as him. Can't wait to have the time to go back to reading. I have Drape Expectations on my TBR list but life has gotten crazy around here.

Countrysunrise said...

My Husband and I manage the apartment building where we live, and since it sits on several acres, people seem to "dump" their cats here. We have 2 indoor fixed cats from 2 prior outdoor cats who got pregnant, and these are their babies. The Moms and the rest of the babies were taken to a no-kill shelter. Now we have 1 more cat who has adopted us, and comes and goes in our apartment. We also have 2 feral cats outdoors. Since we tend to have fierce Winters, my Husband made a shelter for them outside, using a fallen tree trunk, along with straw for protection. He also takes them warm soup with pieces of chicken in it, when it gets cold out, so they have a warm meal on their poor stomachs. They go crazy for it!! These cats have been around for almost 3 years now, so we've been doing something right!! They're healthy, and keep the rat population down around the building, which the Landlord likes when he's up here. Love your blog, as well as your books!!

Anonymous said...

Always enjoy hearing about your cats and how much you care about all of them, even the visitors. However, I really enjoy your Caprice Deluca Home Staging Mysteries, my favorites. Jill Broussard;