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I live in Florida, so I know I'm very lucky, we have some nights that get down in the 30's, but it usually warms back up to at least almost 50. We did have a fairly cold winter last winter, and Arwen, my feral, I have been caring for her for over 3 years now. Last winter was the first winter that I convinced her to come into my garage at night, to sleep. And she did. Sometimes she even stayed all day in the garage, and she'd go out for a few hours in the afternoon and then come back at night. Arwen is getting old. We believe she is maybe 8 years old, but possibly even older. She is starting to look it. I love my girl. I'm kind of looking forward to her sleeping in the garage again this winter, at least I know she's safe at night. I'm sure all of the other's here who care for ferals feel the dread of the cold weather too.
 

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Winter will be here before we know it...
This is definitely the time to start thinking ahead to what we can do for any cats that are stuck outside, having to fend for themselves, sometimes in truly brutal weather...
Shelter, water source that won't freeze, and extra food, since they burn up a lot of calories trying to stay warm...
Cats do freeze to death, suffer frost bite, get sick, etc...
So whatever we can do...helps.
 

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I know the feeling. Luckily, in Louisiana, at the absolute COLDEST it'll get down to maybe 15, but usually stays in the 20s-30s at night during the dead of winter. Still, that is very cold, especially to the cats here who are used to constant heat. The ferals at my University luckily have the buildings to stay under (and they are usually under them all day anyway to stay out of the heat), and hopefully by that time Pumpkin will be living either with a new family or by my house where he can go into my garage. Still a stressful thing to think about!

Glad Arwen took to sleeping in your garage for the winter, I'm sure she's much safer in there. :D I just checked your photos; she's absolutely gorgeous! I know what it's like to be the only one a feral trusts; a very good feeling, but also a big responsibility!
 

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For feral supporters here in UAE it's the other way. Can't wait for the end of Summer and for the temps to drop. The Summer is hard because water bowls dry up fast so it's a constant battle, same with wet food so in Summer a lot go to kibble bcause at least it stays edible. Burnt paws is an issue and our shelters are for cooling. So all this gets easier from now.
 

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I live in an apartment complex and one of my neighbors on the first floor was worried about this calico that was feral and hanging around her patio. We couldn't get her inside since she was too skittish so I bought a heated cat house. Last year it got down to 12 degrees in Texas!! But, thankfully, she used the house. Bought it on Overstock.com and was around $60. The house had 2 openings in case she needed to escape, too.
 

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By all accounts it's going to be a brutal winter. Everytime I see a stray cat or a band of ferals my heart breaks knowing what misery lays ahead if they can't find a warm place to shelter.

God bless you guys and gals, the feral caretakers! Your heart must break a million times over each year.
 

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you can buy the kitty tube on amazon, it is pricey. I made 2 out of 42 gallons tote, line it with durafoam/insulation styrofoam you get at Home depot or Lowes and fill it with straws. I cut a 6 inch hole on the front side(not in the middle) and from the youtube video from alleycats, they show how you put a 6 inch corrugated irrigation pipe so it can block off the rain but I can't find this so I just make a flap from jeans I cut out and secure with tape on top so they can go in and out. The totes are placed under a shelf where I put my plants so it can stay dry. Michaels and walmart have bales of straws(do not buy hay as it will get wet) for the upcoming halloween so you can wait until Halloween is over and get it on clearance.
 

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My problem with a feral home, because I did make one, Arwen won't go inside one. She feels trapped and she won't do it. I thought about ordering the one online though that has a front and back entrance. That she may use. We do have the warming pad, which she LOVES in the winter. She sleeps on it frequently in the garage. I always feel bad, because it still gets cold in the garage, but at least she will hunker down in the garage or on the warming pad and sleep. The only thing that is a HUGE pain is my husband leaves for work at 6:30 in the morning, and I have to get her out of the garage so he can back his truck out, and then I try to get her to come back inside the garage after his truck is out. Some days, last winter, she stayed in the garage almost all day and didn't even want to go out. I hope she stays inside the garage thismuch this winter.
 

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have you tried putting treats in the feral home you built? I placed a piece of boiled chicken sometimes chicken liver and then I check each morning to see if it's gone. This way, she will smell the food comes in and eat. I do this a few times and now I don't need too, I can see the indentation in the straws that someone was sleeping in the feral tote house I built. Also did you place it away where there is no noise like people opening doors or walking? I live in CA, there are a few days that would be in the 30's but other than that, it's not really cold compared to other states.
 

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I just updated my feral cat house this past weekend. Took out all the old styrofoam, lining, and straw and added fresh new everything. My two feral cats used it all last winter and while I still worried so much about them being outside, I was glad they did use the shelter regularly. They haven't tested out the new clean digs yet but it hasn't been that cold this week.

I wish they would come into the garage. We tried that last winter but they wouldn't go in, except to explore a little bit. They hate the sound of the door closing.

My husband wants to bring them inside but I don't know how that would go. They are very shy but will come up to me to pet, and one of them adores one of my dogs... will rub against him, etc. I hate seeing them outside so I need to figure out if I can realistically ever bring them inside, and if so, how that will work. :-/

Thanks to everyone who cares for feral cats.
 

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The only thing that is a HUGE pain is my husband leaves for work at 6:30 in the morning, and I have to get her out of the garage so he can back his truck out, and then I try to get her to come back inside the garage after his truck is out.
If I lived in Florida my husband would be leaving his truck in the driveway lol - in New England, now that's a different story with potentially a bunch of snow and ice to clear off of it I would have to take pity on him. :D
 

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My suggestions as a TNR colony caretaker:

Offer a number of shelter options for the cats since not all cats like the same kind of shelter.

If there is an area protected from rain, cardboard boxes filled with wheat straw are popular. (We know they like cardboard boxes.) In colder areas, you can nest one cardboard box inside another with air space or insulation between them. I have one larger container with a wooden frame and polystyrene blue-board walls, and I put one of those thermostatically-controlled electric pet warmers inside.

I highly recommend an outdoor heated water bowl. I've been using the same one for four winter seasons, one of the best purchases I ever made. Cats need water for the metabolism to maintain body heat.

I've also used an idea I saw for warming chicken houses during last year's cold winter: an incandescent light bulb inside a large, inverted terra-cotta flower pot. The pot stores heat via its thermal mass and radiates it. A cat in distress can huddle up close to it.
 
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