Monday, August 29, 2016

Readying Outside #Cat #Shelters by Karen Rose Smith

It's that time of year to think about shelters for outside stray cats.  We've been feeding a feral stray sibling pair since fall.  But they are still far from being socialized.  We dubbed these two--a tortoiseshell and a yellow tabby--Bonnie and Clyde. They will come into the basement to eat now but not that far in.  If I or my husband move a foot or arm too quickly, they're out the door.  We have cared for feral strays in the winter before. It's a challenging endeavor.  The best scenario this year would be to let Bonnie and Clyde stay in the basement on terrifically cold or bad weather nights.  But as you know, cats don't often cooperate with humans' intentions.  Bonnie and Clyde are spayed and neutered.  Their ears are clipped and I imagine they were caught up in a TNR program as babies. That's one of the reasons they are so scared of humans.  So what my husband and I are going to do is give them options.  Hopefully they'll choose one or two.

We have a patio sunroom that we keep open throughout the year. For winter, we put a shelter and a heated bed inside in one area, a heated pad in another. ExtremeWeatherHeatPad 

 I lay thermal heat pads on the furniture in the sunroom.  Outside over the years we've added different types of shelters.  Those closest to the house have low wattage heat pads inside.  Among them are an igloo and cedar shelters.  If you'd like to consider making a shelter yourself from a cooler, here is a link.  
Ally Cat Allies has pages of prebuilt and DIY shelters to examine, many with instructions. AlleyCatAlliesShelters

One caution about multi cat shelters. Feral and stray cats don't usually like to share.  Our sibling pair might be an exception.  But roaming loners like their own spot to stay safe, rather than sharing a shelter.  

Come fall, as soon as we can get hay/straw bales, we use them as buffers and protection for the shelters against the elements.  Since the flowers are gone and plants don't provide much cover, the bales are also useful on the patio to break the wind. 

Straw is the preferred bedding if the shelter doesn't have a heat pad. Hay, used as animal feed, gets soggy. Straw is sturdier than hay, usually a golden color.  Moisture rolls off of it rather than sinking in. Towels and carpet become damp and mildew.  Cats can nest in straw and it keeps them warm with their body heat. 

Also important in winter are heated water bowls. We notice the strays drink more water in winter than summer because it's harder to find a water supply.  Here is one option we use but many kinds and brands are available.
 Heated Bowl

Keeping these stray fur babies safe is a challenge. Hopefully they'll take advantage of the hospitality.


Read about Caprice De Luca, her family
 and her penchant for solving murders in 
the Caprice De Luca Mystery series.

Staged To Death
Deadly Decor
Gilt By Association
Drape Expectations
Silence of the Lamps
Shades of Wrath--December 2016


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 95th novel will be released in 2016.
Karen and Paddy

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. 

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