How are your ferals doing in this cold? - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-25-2013, 06:40 AM Thread Starter
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How are your ferals doing in this cold?

It's been cold in the Northeast - below zero overnight and warming up to only single digits. How are your ferals doing?
My seven barn cats seem to be taking the cold in stride. Fortunately the days have been sunny, so some of them make the most of the sun's warming rays by hanging out near a windbreak/sun reflector I made for them. Others spend time upstairs in the barn on their down comforter beds.
Their appetites are sharp. They have all the kibble they can eat, plus they have a chance to eat wet food when I arrive. I fill their Tupperware bowl with water and it might stay unfrozen up to an hour. I can tell by their tracks in the snow that they drink out of the stream next to the barn.
I think my ferals are dealing with the cold better than I am.
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-25-2013, 10:05 AM
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I've taken care of a feral colony through three winters now. They seem to do okay. I moved in August, so they are only fed around once a day, four times a week (versus twice a day, seven days a week). Still, their weight seems okay. A friend feeds them during the week (dry only, I on the weekends (wet and dry). I leave out plenty of dry food (has more calories than wet); wet food freezes quickly in the cold.
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-25-2013, 10:58 AM
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I feed a couple colonies of strays here in Michigan and am trying to find a way to keep their water from freezing so fast. I do not live near them and there is no power for heated dishes and the type of area they are in I can not leave anything fancy or it will disappear but I get out to tend them daily weather permitting. They have shelter what with all the deserted and empty homes about and I load them up with dry food every day which I can stick under porches and the like. If there are any cats about when I stop I will give them some canned. Also any that become friendly and I can catch I will get into a rescue or shelter. One of my big problems at one of the colonies is black birds. I think they have a look out posted and if I put dry food out to early they they call all their bird friends and wipe the food out no matter how good I try to hide it!!!
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-25-2013, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by kraut3852 View Post
Also any that become friendly and I can catch I will get into a rescue or shelter.
This concerns me... if you've caught them, I hope you mean for TNR (trap, neuter, return), unless they are a stray cat that has willingly walked right up to you the moment you met it, meaning it's indiscriminately friendly to everyone.

You care for the cats, so it's important to note that a cat that may become friendly to you, their caretaker, is a world different than being an adoptable cat. It likely is going to revert to being feral around other people and that is a death sentence at a shelter. The cat would likely not even make it to the adoption room for the general public.

I've been taming a semi-feral in the garage the last few months and he's starting to get to the point where I finally don't feel like I need oven mitts/leather gloves around him - but I'm still not taking that risk; he's super friendly, but if there's even a slight chance that I think he may still bite it isn't worth the risk. Cat bites are very serious.

To take Jasper as an example: He wants attention like he's starved for it, but that isn't good enough to have a cat adopted. Yesterday when an essential stranger poked around in the garage Jasper hissed a few times and growled menacingly at them. I haven't heard either from Jasper in quite some time... but I wouldn't have put it past Jasper to bite them if they'd tried getting in his space. He went up to his bed (top of a fridge), but them came back down to sit on me with a very watchful eye on the stranger. That type of that behavior around an unknown person is not going to get a cat adopted. Magnify that by the beyond stressful environment at a shelter, and you realise that the cats are better on the street.

About your water dish problem: You mention all the empty homes, I'm going to guess they've been empty for a long time and no one is moving to the area? Any chance you can leave a door open (I'm thinking a sliding door) in one with the water inside? That might prevent it from freezing.

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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-25-2013, 02:25 PM
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It's rare that I see the ferals in my colony. Because of the location (a busy office park) the cats don't typically come out of hiding until well after dark, so it can be difficult to keep tabs on them. It's been really cold here all week, so I think they've been venturing out only sporadically. Usually they demolish every last crumb of food I leave out, but I've noticed quite a lot left in their bowls in the mornings when I've arrived at work this week. I hope that's the reason anyway, but it's been so cold that it, sadly, wouldn't surprise me if some didn't make it. I only just managed to secure permission from the building management next door to put out feral cat shelters on their property, so that is what I will be doing this weekend. There is a shed with a padlocked door out behind our parking garage that has a busted hinge, which allows enough room for the cats to get in and out, so I think a number of them shelter in there, but it's hardly better than being outside when it's as cold as it's been. The semi-feral that shows up for food in the mornings when I arrive, came by last night while I was putting out food as well. I haven't seen it yet today, but it did eat twice yesterday, so hopefully that's why.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-25-2013, 03:07 PM
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I'm in Maryland and I worry about my little ferals in this cold. The two that are regulars seem to be doing fine though. The past couple of months I've noticed that they've packed on some extra fat, so I assume that's to keep them warm. They spend a good bit of time in the shelter I have on my front porch and still greet me at my door every morning and most evenings. I've been replacing their water 3 times a day since it freezes so quickly, even when it's hot when I take it out. I wonder if they are getting food somewhere else too since they eat some of the food, but don't act famished. The 3rd little feral doesn't come around as often and I worry about him more, but it's always reassuring when he does show up.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-26-2013, 08:55 PM
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Carmel No I do not mean TNR althrough I have done that also. I have been caring for cats for 7 / 8 years and think I can tell when a cat is really friendly or just used to me. I think most people when they here the word shelter that the first thing that pops into their mind is that they are going to put an animal down. The only animals that I usually take into a shelter (Theres that word again) or rescue are ones I know are adoptable or injured / sick or getting to the point that they will not make it through another winter.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-29-2013, 08:48 PM
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although it has not been as cold here in ct as it is in your area Greenport last week we had overnight lows around 0 and daytime highs in the upper teens with strong winds.

while i am/was very stressed out due to this my crew just takes it in stride. during the day they would be outside doing as they normally do, even doing a little bit of playing.

last week was the first time in nearly a year that i gave them any dry food since their canned food froze so quickly. since they were getting very little canned food i tried to make it up to them by giving them grilled chicken breast and grilled salmon that i warmed up. unfortunately they now expect me to bring them their "treats".

"In studying the traits and dispositions of the so-called lower animals, and contrasting them with man's, I find the result humiliating to me."
--Mark Twain
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-30-2013, 11:23 AM
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Despite having a shelter in the yard, the strays/ferals have not taken up residence. They seem to have located suitable places that affords them protection. The one I feed regularly (mooch) vanished for 3 days. He returned when it warmed up (low 20's) ate 3 cans of cat food and left immediately after. This morning it was in the 40's so he returned to his usual habit of waiting by the patio door for breakfast. His coat looks very thick so I guess he is warm enough.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-08-2013, 09:30 PM
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there are 3 ferals who show up. Smokey(hes a regular),baby blue,and cali. I havent seen BB and cali in a while. but smokey shows up every day after 6pm to eat dinner.

during a big snow storm like today...nobody comes over. But i leave out dry food and there heated water bowl on my front porch just incase they show up.

The igloo has alot of straw inside it for them to snuggle in. the food bowl is inside it too.

i do worry about those guys during times like this.
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