9 Ways To Help Feral Cats During Hot Summer Months

Summer is here, heating up our days and adding a sizzle to the sidewalks. While we can retreat to the comfort of air conditioning, our feral feline friends aren't always so lucky.

In the harsh heat of the season, these wild cats face challenges that can make their survival tough.

In many areas, summertime brings new challenges in the form of fewer water sources as well as intense heat.

Wouldn't you like to make their lives a little easier, a bit more bearable?

This article will unveil nine simple yet significant ways to lend a helping hand to these independent spirits.

As you'll discover, small actions on our part can mean a world of difference to them.

So, ready to explore this summer mission?

You can help make life just a little bit easier for these cats by following these tips.

Essential Summer Tips: Providing Water To Feral Cats

The most important thing you can do to help feral cats during summertime is to provide them with easy access to plenty of fresh water.

Anyone can perform this simple act of kindness, so even if you don't regularly care for a colony of feral cats, consider leaving out a bowl of water.

The Right Water Bowl To Help Feral Cats In Summer

Tip #1 - Use a deep bowl: The sun can be a harsh foe during the peak of summer, causing shallow water dishes to evaporate rapidly. To counteract this, consider using large deep bowls for water.

This not only ensures the water lasts longer but also is accessible for cats of all sizes. However, make sure the bowls are not so narrow that the cats struggle to drink comfortably from them.

Innovative Idea: Add Ice To Feral Cats' Water

Tip #2 - Add ice to the water: In areas where summer heat is intense, simply providing water might not be enough. The water can heat up quickly, becoming less refreshing for the cats.

An easy solution to this is freezing water in a plastic cup overnight and placing this block of ice in the water bowl in the morning.

This not only keeps the water cool for a longer period but also ensures a slow release of fresh water throughout the day. Cats might also appreciate the novelty of a cool drink.

A feral cat is outside eating from a bowl

Feeding Strategies To Help Feral Cats In Hot Weather

Summer brings with it not just heat but an increase in bugs and bacteria. Food, especially wet food, can quickly become a magnet for ants, flies and turn rancid if left out in the heat.

Dry Cat Food: The Safe Choice For Summer Feeding

Tip #3 - Leaving food out unattended? Consider dry cat food: The decision between canned and dry food can have significant implications during hot summer days.

Unless you are sure the cats will consume the wet food quickly, you might want to stick to dry cat food. It's less likely to spoil in the heat or attract pests and can be left outside for long periods without concern.


Placing Wet Food Smartly: Opt For Shaded Areas

Tip #4 - Feed wet food in a shaded area: If you prefer feeding canned food due to its higher moisture content, make sure you choose the placement wisely.

Direct sunlight can zap the moisture from canned food, turning it into an unappealing crust. Always place dishes of wet food in shaded, cooler areas to preserve their freshness and appeal.

Add A Touch Of Hydration: Mix Water In Canned Food

Tip #5 - Add water to canned food: Dehydration is a real concern for feral cats during the sweltering summer months. An ingenious solution to this is to mix water into their canned food.

This not only helps increase their water intake but also keeps the canned food from drying out too quickly in the heat. However, remember that cats need a good amount of nutrients to survive the harsh conditions.

So, while adding water, be careful not to dilute the food too much. The goal is to strike a healthy balance between hydration and nutritional value.

Keep Food Dishes Ant-free: Trusted Tips From Our Community

Tip #6 - Keep ants away from the food dishes: Ants are more active during summer months and there's nothing they'd like more than a dish full of nutritious cat food.

TCS member @catsknowme says that she applies Vaseline around the bottom of the food dishes to discourage ants. @msaimee told us that she uses an outdoor ant and bird-proof pet feeder which keeps both the ants and the starlings away from the cat food.

abandoned cat on the streeet

Summer Cat Shelters: Importance Of Shade And Cool Spots

Shelter is a more obvious need during wintertime when cats need a safe warm place to make it through the snow and cold. However, it's also important during summertime, as direct sunlight can quickly raise a cat's body temperature to the point of a heat stroke.

Provide Plenty Of Shade

Tip #7 - Ensure ample shaded spots: The comfort of a cool, shady spot can be a lifesaver for a feral cat during the summer. Ensure that your feline friends aren't fighting over a single shady spot by providing plenty of shaded areas.

You can hang tarps over popular napping spots or use naturally shady areas in your yard. And when feeding time rolls around, always place the food dishes in these shaded areas, preferably during the cooler early morning or evening hours.

TNR In Summers: Safeguarding Cats From Heat During The Process

TNR stands for "Trap, Neuter and Return" - the recommended protocol for feral cat care. As experienced caregivers of feral cat colonies know: If you feed, you must also spay and neuter.

Trapping and neutering cats during hot summer days requires special care.

Trapping Practices: Shield Cats From Direct Sunlight

Tip #8 - Never leave a cat in the trap in direct sunlight or a hot place: Cats, like any living being, can suffer from heat stroke due to prolonged exposure to direct sunlight or heat.

To prevent such a dangerous situation, never leave a trapped cat under the sun or in a heated place. Monitor the traps vigilantly, and once a cat is captured, promptly cover the trap and transfer it to a cool, shaded area.

Never Forget: Don't Leave Cats In Parked Cars

Tip #9 - Never leave a cat in a parked car: The interiors of parked cars can turn into lethal heat traps within minutes. This creates a perilous environment for any living being, including cats.

Therefore, never leave a cat or any other pet in a parked car, even for a moment. If you've captured a feral cat for transport, ensure the vehicle is well-ventilated and air-conditioned, and remain in the company of the cat at all times.

Embracing The TNR Approach: A Quick Start Guide

If you're newly navigating the waters of TNR, we recommend starting with our simple guide: Everything you need to know about TNR (Trap-Neuter-Release). You'll find practical advice on how to conduct TNR activities effectively and safely.

Please also visit our Feral Cat Care & Rescue forum where you can get more advice on how to properly and effectively trap and neuter your cats.

Help Feral Cats In Summers: Your Role In Their Survival

Feral cats may be known for their independence, but they still require our support to survive, especially in the heat of summer.

Enhance your understanding of their struggles and learn how you can alleviate their hardships by reading the articles in our Feral Cats & Rescue section.

Engage, Learn, And Contribute: Join Our Feral Cats & Rescue Forum

Connect with a community of feline aficionados in our feral cats forum. Here, you can share your stories, get advice, and offer your own tips to help others.

Remember, your voice can make a world of difference for these feral friends. Let's work together to ensure their survival and well-being, one cat at a time.


9 Ways To Help Feral Cats During Hot Summer Months

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10 comments on “9 Ways To Help Feral Cats During Hot Summer Months

Tom Petitt August 24, 2023
I guess my ferals are spoiled, I took a huge tote, glued styrofoam insulation to the outside and covered that with a tarp. Cut a hole big enough for a wire and fastened a light bulb to the top inside, if you use a rough service incandescent bulb you get good heat for winter, spent 18 bucks and got a solar fan to circulate air in the summer. Also put black walnut leaves under their food bowls to repel ants. I purchased a spray that is a peppermint oil base and spray the outdoor seat cushion I put in the bottom of the totes to repel fleas. It's rough having a soft spot for cats LOL
35 year catdad September 6, 2020
Great idea! I use diatomaceous earth which ants hate but its non toxic and even used in water filters for sensitive tropical fish. A 3lb bag of it was very cheap at Home Depot I think it was? I find the trail where they are getting in from outside and pour a pile of it around the hole and along trail they use. Takes a while to work.
tarasgirl06 July 15, 2019
Never leave a cat in a trap under ANY conditions. We had the tragic experience of trapping a cat who must have had a heart attack as soon as (s)he was trapped, and immediately passed on from the stress. When possible, have someone sit on the trap. You want to get the trap covered and the cat to safety right away. Also, feeding at scheduled times every day ensures the cats will become accustomed to getting food at those times (cats being crepuscular, as close to dawn and dusk as possible is optimal).
Cocokittycolleen July 12, 2019
I've found that if you outline the area that your bowl goes with chalk, if your bowl is going on concrete, it deters ants because the chalk dust cakes up on their antennae. Or a lot of times I'll color the whole area in with chalk to make extra sure ants don't get to the food
HUDSONPAT July 9, 2019
Its the rainy season in Florida. My feral seems to be getting enough water (he ignores water bowl). He visits early morning and just after sunset for his handful of kibble. I recently de-wormed him, as he was too thin. To help him bulk up, I wait for him to finish kibble, then place a heaping tablespoon of cottage cheese in bowl. It is cool, and he loves it.
ailish July 9, 2019
I have found that if you put the cat feeding dish in a larger dish or plate with water in it the ants are deterred by the moat. Some very finicky cats my have a problem eating from this immediately ([gasp] change!!!!), but my cat, after looking at it, recognized her usual cat bowl and after a once over had no problem eating from this set up.
loveskitty October 3, 2018
I am posting this above the time clock at the facility I am at.
catsknowme May 28, 2017
Thank you for writing this article. As many people head out for vacation, they can use these tips to provide a little (even if temporary) respite for feral and lost cats that seek help at local motels. Also, it doesn't hurt if tourists who spot homeless cats shoot a quick email or leave a voicemail for the local rescue groups; never assume that the locals know about all the cat colonies!
tarasgirl06 May 26, 2017
Thanking you for the excellent suggestions! Just adding that it might be possible to purchase Fool-A-Bug bowls for food and/or water. We bought a few of these bowls and they have proven invaluable in our hot, dry climate where we have had lots of ants around our cat compound (two former locations). Our current location is an urban community which thankfully has TNR as municipal policy and the only cats I ever see here are cats whose caregivers don't know enough to keep them indoors-only. There are no free-roaming cats here as far as I know. I do keep a Fool-A-Bug bowl full of water in back, in a shaded location, for whomever wants or needs a drink, because we have wild creatures here as well.
orange&white May 25, 2017
Thank you for this article. I'm only feeding one feral kitten, and I was trying to figure out how to keep ants from getting into his food only a few minutes after I put it out. I'll try the Vaseline! Hope it will work for slugs/snails too. Ants and flies by day; snails by evening. I didn't have room to bring him in my house when I trapped him, so he is having to live outside in a temporary catio "Kitty Kabana" (w/plenty of shade) until he's old enough and weighs enough for neuter.

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