9 Ways To Help Feral Cats During Hot Summer Months

9 Ways To Help Feral Cats During Hot Summer Months

The life of homeless feral cats is always hard, but even more so during harsh weather. In many areas, summertime brings new challenges in the form of fewer water sources as well as intense heat. You can help make life just a little bit easier for these cats by following these tips.

Providing Water for 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.

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Tip #1 - Use a deep bowl

Avoid using a shallow water dish as water can quickly evaporate on a hot and dry day. Stick to large deep bowls and make sure they're not too narrow.

Tip #2 - Add ice to the water

If you live in a very hot area, freeze water in a plastic cup and place the block of ice in the water bowl. This will ensure a fresh supply of water throughout the day, and the cats will probably appreciate the cool drink.

Feeding Feral Cats during Summertime

Hot summer days make bugs and bacteria happy. Food is more likely to attract ants and flies, and wet food will spoil more quickly.

Tip #3 - Leaving food out unattended? Consider dry cat food

Unless you know the cats well and know they will eat the food quickly, you should probably avoid canned food during hot summer days. Left outside for a long time, the food will either dry up or spoil.

Tip #4 - Feed wet food in a shaded area

Direct sunlight can dry canned food quickly and make it unpalatable, so make sure you place dishes of wet food in the shade.

Tip #5 - Add water to canned food

Diluting the food with water can help keep cats hydrated. It will also keep the canned food from drying up too quickly. Don't overdo it and remember the cats need the caloric intake to survive, so you don't want them to take in too much water at the expense of actual nutrients.

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.

Provide a shaded shelter

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.

Tip #7 - Provide plenty of shade

Make sure the cats don't have to compete for shade by putting up tarps over the cats' favorite napping spots. When feeding the cats, place the food in the shade and opt for the cooler early morning or evening hours.

Special considerations for TNR

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.

Tip #8 - Never leave a cat in the trap in direct sunlight or a hot place

Cats can heat up and develop a heat stroke very fast, so you should never leave a cat exposed to direct sunlight or to the heat of the day. Keep watch over the traps, and as soon as your cat is in the trap, cover it and move it to a cool area.

Tip #9 - Never leave a cat in a parked car

The temperature inside a parked car can rise very quickly. Never ever leave a cat or any other pet in a parked car, not even for a few minutes. If you trapped a feral cat and need to transport him or her, stay with the cat at all times and make sure the car is air-conditioned and cool.

If you're new to TNR, start by reading this simple guide: Everything you need to know about TNR (Trap-Neuter-Release). 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.

Be a Friend of Ferals in the summertime too!

Feral cats are domestic animals that need our help year-round. Educate yourself about the plight of feral cats and how you can help them by reading the articles in our Feral Cats & Rescue section. Don't forget to join us in the feral cats forum to get support and advice and share yours with other cat lovers!

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

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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