Thursday, October 24, 2019

Shelters for Feral and Outside Cats

by Karen Rose Smith

Several years ago, we cared for a yellow tabby stray who came into our yard and seemed to want to stay.  We named him Lancelot because the first time we spotted him, he was protecting a kitten. We got him care and found out he had FIV.  He lasted through the summer. When he first began staying on our property, I wanted a protected place for him to nestle and we bought an igloo.  The following year another yellow tabby came to us.  We named him Sunnybud.  He stayed for three years until his FIV took him.  In the meantime we added more than one shelter for cats who needed cover over the winter.  At times, we had three cats staying warmer.  The thing about cats is that, unless they are bonded--mother and kitties, brother and sister--they each like their own space. They can be territorial. This summer I spruced up this shelter when I cleaned it out. We have turquoise planters and I had leftover paint from a reno project. Cedar Shelter

Some of the shelters have heat pads made for the outdoors.  In those that don't, we use straw.  Blankets and rugs will mildew and stay cold and wet.  In winter, we've found the cats prefer the shelters with the heat pads. No surprise there. The photo I led with is an igloo with straw bales around it to insulate it even more both winter and summer.  Sunnybud preferred being farther away from the house until he began to stay in our patio sunroom. The igloo is equipped with a heat pad.

There are many websites on the internet that have DIY instructions on how to make an inexpensive cat shelter.  ( Link for info on a DIY Shelters ) YouTube also has many DIY clips on building outside shelters.  Some of them use styrofoam coolers and others use store-bought coolers often used for picnic soft drinks. I found these on Etsy and they are called cat pods. These include a heat pad. ( Link to Extreme Weather Heat Pad )Link for Outside Feral Cat Shelters )

Before Sunnybud left us, he introduced a brother and sister duo to our property. My husband named them Bonnie (a dark Tortie) and Clyde (a yellow tabby.) They have been more of a challenge than any others.  It's taken three years to socialize them to a certain extent. They come inside our basement now every afternoon to eat and cuddle up until morning. Then they go out again unless we keep them in for rain or freezing cold. Our basement is their apartment with cat beds and my plant grow heat pad that they use too.  But we still can't touch Bonnie.  I can pet Clyde unless I move my hand too fast or stand up!  We're working on it.  But before we even attempted to feed them inside the basement, they had to become comfortable with our property.  These two had been caught in a TNR program because both their ears were clipped.  I imagine they had a traumatic experience which is the cause of their apprehension around humans.  We added another shelter with a heat pad when they arrived.  I catnipped it and they began using it.  It was a patiently slow process.

This is a feral shelter we have under our deck. Clyde often uses the roof to survey his domain.  He and Bonnie can go inside and then crawl into a loft space that is insulated for warmth. Bonnie and Clyde both stay on our property now both day and night. Feralvilla Shelter

A fellow writer found stray cats on her property. I've often looked at these tubes and she told me the stray cats are using the shelter.  ( Link for Info on the Tube Shelter )

I'm an animal person, especially cats.  We have five inside rescues.  I can't handle seeing felines suffer in the winter.  Hence, the shelters.

Me and Sunnybud
Bonnie and Clyde
Younger Sunnybud


Sunnybud and Halo before we brought her in.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Celebrating #Tea and Books!

I was honored to be asked to participate in this year's Pennsylvania Tea Festival sponsored by The Rosemary House and Gardens and The Mechanicsburg Mystery Bookshop.  The event was held in the gardens of The Rosemary House.  It featured entertainment, lectures, vendors and, of course, a full-service tea luncheon.

The literary corner hosted six cozy mystery authors who were scheduled over the two day event to give a short presentation followed by a chat session with readers where the authors could answer questions and sign copies of their books.

Each ticket holder received a tea cup when he/she arrived.  The cup was then used throughout their stay at the festival to taste the tea samples that were offered by the vendors.

The mood of the day was light and cheerful and everybody seemed to enjoy the beautiful weather, browse the tea products and learn more about tea. The chef at Rosemary House even created a pimento spread/cucumber sandwich like the recipe in my recent release, Murder With Cucumber Sandwiches!

I enjoyed the camaraderie with my readers.  Chatting with them reaffirms what I hope to accomplish in my novels and they always give me new perspectives on what my readers like...whether it be shorter chapters, more than one murder or my sleuths' romantic relationships.

My Daisy's Tea Garden Mysteries have opened a whole new venue for promoting my books.  It is so enjoyable to sit with my readers, enjoy tea and tasty treats and interact on a much more intimate level than across a table at a bookstore.  I always feel refreshed and renewed after sharing tea with my readers.


Coming in December!


In Pennsylvania’s Amish country, Daisy Swanson has a tea shop to run, a daughter to marry off—and a murder to solve . . .

Daisy’s worried one of her employees at Daisy’s Tea Garden may be in a spot of trouble. Lately Karina’s been loading up on soup and second-day baked goods at the end of her shift—and while the shop’s scrumptious treats may be hard to resist, Daisy suspects there’s more going on, especially since Karina has been seen hanging out in a rundown part of Willow Creek.

Planning her own daughter’s wedding is enough to keep her busy, but Daisy can’t help feeling a protective maternal instinct—and an instinct to investigate. It turns out Karina has been helping a down-on-his luck single dad who’s been making ends meet—barely—by selling antiques at a place called Pirated Treasures.

But when an employee at the antiques store is bludgeoned to death with a marble rolling pin, Karina’s new friend is suspect number one. Though the motives are muddy and steeped in intrigue, Daisy is more than determined to flush the real killer out.