Thursday, September 28, 2017

Winter Feral Cat Shelters--#Cats This Week 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 of 2015.  They came running into our yard with their ears clipped so I knew they had been neutered and spayed.  When they began coming regularly, I decided to attempt to socialize them.  Hubby dubbed them Bonnie and Clyde because they ran together.  

The socialization process has been exceedingly slow.  After a year, they came regularly for wet food twice a day.  Clyde stayed around our property most of the time.  But Bonnie was flighty and went off on her own to be reunited with him at times during the day.  I don't know where she went.  We tried confining them in the basement one night when Clyde's paw seemed to be hurting, but they ran out like the devil was chasing them the next day and didn't return for a few more days.  They were even wary about eating.  The thing about ferals is that they want to retain their independence.  

Now, two years later, Clyde especially will rub against my legs at mealtime. He also enjoys a daily massage, but still streaks away at the slightest quick movement.  Bonnie still resists even the slightest attempt to pet her. They have been coming into our basement each evening and spending the night. But they are usually ready to leave in the morning and explore their outside world. We've taken care of strays before.  It's not easy to "let go" and give them freedom but that's how they are happiest.  

Another frequent visitor that we dubbed Scruffy has used our outside shelters for several winters. Out trail cameras have also captured images of other wintertime visitors. 

My husband and I are try to give our outside visitors 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. 


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. 


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.  And sometimes a stray would prefer to have the whole property to himself or herself.

We use straw bales 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.

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


Coming in November 2017

Available October 17

Now Available for Pre-Order

Ah, wintertime in Rust Creek Falls! It's the perfect time of year to snuggle up by the fireplace and indulge in some juicy gossip. Speaking of snuggling, did you hear that Eli Dalton and Hadley Strickland were forced to spend the night together in an abandoned barn during our recent snowstorm?  

While it may have been a horse in distress that brought the lovely veterinarian out to the Circle D, we're betting handsome, steady Eli will draw her back. We believe the rancher could melt fair Hadley's frozen heart—if she can find the courage to reveal her past. So hang the holly, dear readers, and remember that this is the season for miracles. Could a holiday proposal soon be in the works?


Click on the link below to read an additional blog entry by Karen
every Thursday on the Cozy Chicks blog


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. This award-winning and bestselling author will have her 100th novel released in 2018.  At present she is working on two mystery series for Kensington Books--Caprice De Luca Home Staging cozies and Daisy's Tea Garden mysteries. From time to time, she also writes romance for Harlequin Special Edition.
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 and does watercolor paintings 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. 

©2017 Karen Rose Smith

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