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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-03-2014, 02:39 PM Thread Starter
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update on Scruffy

Well, a three year hiatus on Scruffy, our outdoor feral cat. She's still with us! 3 plus years, two litters, and one spaying later she still lives at our back door - mostly sleeping in the shelter we built for her. We feed her twice a day (even getting neighbors to come feed her and our indoor cat when we're on vacation) and she's as happy as ever. When we open the door she'll often come right in and sit next to me on my couch (when our inside cat is sleeping upstairs) - and this is a feral cat!

I have a question related to outside temperature. It was minus 1 degrees F last night. Scruffy seemed to do just fine in this weather, but I wonder if there are negative effects of the temperature. We're supposed to get a minus 6 F day in a couple of days. Is there a danger point for cats? She's well fed, we give her warm water to drink a couple times per day, and she has a snow free shelter - but is that enough? Thoughts from those caring for feral cats????
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-03-2014, 03:46 PM
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I have a feral that I've been caring for for over two years now. She has lived in my neighborhood for 5-7 years. Lucky for us, we live in Florida. So we are having our coldest weather of the year right now, which has been in the 40's at night. We have the occasional 30 degree nights. Just recently, in fact last night was only the second night we've done this, we have got Arwen (our feral) to sleep in our garage. Sometimes we leave the garage cracked so she can come in and out, but twice now, I have shut the door real quick with her inside. She mewed a little bit, but she slept in there all night. If she's not in the garage, she will sleep by my front door. I found a nice warming bed at Petco, it only warms to 102, their body temperature, and it only gets warm as they lay on it. It is very low watt so you can safely leave it plugged in.

If I were you I would make a feral bed/box, I have seen how to do it on this forum. It's basically a styrofoam container that is inside a rubbermaid box with some insulation in between the rubbermaid and the styrofoam, then some straw or hay inside (I'm not sure which one but look it up because one is desirable over the other and I can't remember which it is). I tried to do a modified version of this for Arwen, she wouldn't have anything to do with it. I don't think she liked the straw or hay bedding. Maybe just a nice warm blanket in there also would be something the cat would like. Arwen does not like to be trapped into something, so if it doesn't have a front and back door, she won't go into it. If you could make some sort of box/enclosure, near your door where the kitty sleeps. Even better would be a garage or shed with a heating pad. I am completely unfamiliar with those kinds of temperatures you are describing, but I'm thinking that is very deadly temperatures for any animal outside. If you can get Scruffy to come inside tonight, just put her in a bathroom, laundry room, etc, with a litter box, and even though she might not be happy about it, she will be safe. That is what I would do. Good luck, what a big heart you have to take care of her and her babies.
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-03-2014, 04:30 PM
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Cats really need a warm and wind free bed, Cats can get frost bite on ears, feet, tail tips, etc.
What Howsefrau suggested can work very well and STRAW is the choice for bedding.
You can also find old down sleeping bags that can make a good bed for them in a cat house, they can nestle into them.
There's lots of great ideas on the forum about caring for the strays and creating cat houses/beds.

It wonderful you're doing what you can for Scruffy!

"A Cat must have three different names:
An everyday family name; A particular name;
And the name but the Cat Himself Knows, and will never confess." T.S. Eliot

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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-03-2014, 08:02 PM
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Yep, I have the styrofoam boxes for my ferals. They are super easy to make, insulated, and cheap. Just make sure you weight it down with something (I wedged one under a table, and used 2x4s on the other) as they will blow away pretty easily. I use a mixture of pine straw and leaves in my boxes and that seems to work well. I wouldn't recommend towels because they absorb moisture and will freeze (lesson learned there). I also use a heating pad (wrapped in a large ziploc bag to keep it dry), and put it under a layer of the straw. Do you have power in her shelter? Neither of mine will come in the garage (I've tried everything) and it's been very cold here lately, yet somehow they seem fine. I guess they'd come in if it were intolerable. I really don't know how they do it.
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-03-2014, 11:02 PM
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Have you considered making her an indoor outdoor cat? Will she integrate with your present cat family?
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