Taking Care of Strays Outside in the Cold - Need Suggestions!

sil

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Hi guys.. I have 2 questions regarding caring for strays during harsh cold winter who live outside. Hoping you provide vital solutions...

1) Presently I'm caring for 2 strays who do not live with me but roam around my block. Every day I venture out to the back of my building (where they sometimes hang out) to provide food and water. In the corner of my building theres an open closet that forms part of the building with some junk like old bikes so its dusty. I set up 2 cardboard boxes and cut out holes out of them as makeshift homes with cushions in the bottom for them. But the problem is the cold. I need to know what to do to furnish warmth. I was thinking of buying electric blankets to be placed inside the cardboard boxes for heat. But my concern is since the blankets will be turned on constantly every day, would this burn the cats even on low setting? Would the blankets burn up? If you have alternative solutions to the electrical blankets, please post them!

2) Theres a 3rd cat I hear every night meowing which I feel very bad about and being that cats are cats, its hard to lure him into the closet for food. It's strange because the smell of the food in the closet should attract him as it does the other 2 cats. What do you suggest I do to make this cat aware of the shelter of the closet?

Looking very forward to your much needed responses!!!
 

tabbytom

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Hi guys.. I have 2 questions regarding caring for strays during harsh cold winter who live outside. Hoping you provide vital solutions...

1) Presently I'm caring for 2 strays who do not live with me but roam around my block. Every day I venture out to the back of my building (where they sometimes hang out) to provide food and water. In the corner of my building theres an open closet that forms part of the building with some junk like old bikes so its dusty. I set up 2 cardboard boxes and cut out holes out of them as makeshift homes with cushions in the bottom for them. But the problem is the cold. I need to know what to do to furnish warmth. I was thinking of buying electric blankets to be placed inside the cardboard boxes for heat. But my concern is since the blankets will be turned on constantly every day, would this burn the cats even on low setting? Would the blankets burn up? If you have alternative solutions to the electrical blankets, please post them!

2) Theres a 3rd cat I hear every night meowing which I feel very bad about and being that cats are cats, its hard to lure him into the closet for food. It's strange because the smell of the food in the closet should attract him as it does the other 2 cats. What do you suggest I do to make this cat aware of the shelter of the closet?

Looking very forward to your much needed responses!!!
Thank you for taking the initiative to protect the kitties from the cold. Where I live does not experience winter but I'll leave some links for you to help those kitties.

Providing Shelter

How to Build an Outdoor Shelter

Cold Weather Tips for Cats
 

backwoodsvet

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If you have access to power, I use 4 heating pads in cut down cardboard boxes for warm beds for my 4 outside strays here at the house....I've been doing it that way for years and all beds are filled during cooler nights......I buy sunbeam or CVS heating pads, I think they are 12"x15" in size and do not shut off every 2 hours(these are getting harder to find), I place 2 layers of either old towels or old t-shirts over the pads and have found that low setting works great until temp goes below 40 then I switch heat settings to medium, can't tell you about settings below that temp, I don't get much under 32F here........The best way to find a proper temp setting in your case would be to do what I've done in the past, as soon as one of the strays leave the heated bed, check the bed's heat with your hand and you will be able to tell if ti's the right temp,,, I have found they will not use it if it's too hot.............
 

backwoodsvet

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This 3rd cat that you talk of that is doing the meowing, I've found in the past that open meowing like that sometimes means that they are in some need of some sort, many times just hungry and voicing that.......on this noisy one that will not get close to closet/bed/food area, this may be caused by several reasons, so I'm guessing on his case and if you want to feed or care for that one, bed/food may have to be in different spot(just for now,he may be more joining when he gains more trust in what you are trying to do), he has a problem with the location or the smell or another stray that may have a past history with in that area and stays back......
Hope I've helped in your situation in some way, Thank you for caring about what happens to these guys..................
 

Kwik

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They do make outdoor heated pads made specifically for cats thst are motion activated ( or weight I believe)and are temp controlled,water resistant ,shock proof and good choice for outside kitties in those freezing temperatures- the safety is my concern as well.....
I've seen them on Walmart.com reasonably priced,Chewy.com and other places too......

Is this an apt bldg? Who uses this closet,are they safe there - is there a bldg Mgr that you can make aware of your use of this ( utility closet?)
 

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I've used an electric heating pad made by Mospro, designed for cats and dogs. It doesn't feel warm until a cat lies on it. It's about 2 ft square; they usually come in different sizes. Whatever you go with, if it's electrical be sure it doesn't get exposed to the weather unless it's designed for that.

Photo is attached... also one of an insulated shelter I made for a friend's neighborhood feral. Two cats would fit in it, though only one is using it now.

It's good of you to care for these cats!

20231204_165900.jpg 20240107_090048.jpg
 

Kwik

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I've used an electric heating pad made by Mospro, designed for cats and dogs. It doesn't feel warm until a cat lies on it. It's about 2 ft square; they usually come in different sizes. Whatever you go with, if it's electrical be sure it doesn't get exposed to the weather unless it's designed for that.

Photo is attached... also one of an insulated shelter I made for a friend's neighborhood feral. Two cats would fit in it, though only one is using it now.

It's good of you to care for these cats!

View attachment 467452View attachment 467453
That's the heating pad I was referencing- very nice,seems very safe ^ weather resistant
 
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sil

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sil

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Is this an apt bldg? Who uses this closet,are they safe there - is there a bldg Mgr that you can make aware of your use of this ( utility closet?)
Yes its an apt building.
No one uses the closet which is used for storage. As mentioned, its dusty and stores bikes and old hardware equipment.
Yes the building's super is well aware of the alternative use of the closet which is a cat shelter.
 
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sil

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I've used an electric heating pad made by Mospro, designed for cats and dogs.

Photo is attached... also one of an insulated shelter I made for a friend's neighborhood feral. Two cats would fit in it, though only one is using it now.

View attachment 467452View attachment 467453
Greatly appreciate the pics of the heat pad and makeshift shelter.
Will look into Mospro heating pads made specifically for pets - warmth triggered by weight of cat.
It looks like the shelter is made from a trash bin, if I'm not mistaken. Is this correct?
 
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sil

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This 3rd cat that you talk of that is doing the meowing, I've found in the past that open meowing like that sometimes means that they are in some need of some sort, many times just hungry and voicing that.......on this noisy one that will not get close to closet/bed/food area, this may be caused by several reasons, so I'm guessing on his case and if you want to feed or care for that one, bed/food may have to be in different spot(just for now,he may be more joining when he gains more trust in what you are trying to do), he has a problem with the location or the smell or another stray that may have a past history with in that area and stays back......
Yeah, the 3rd cat is what worries me far more than the other 2 cats which are taken care of, at least for the most part. It kills me when I hear him meow at night. I'm limited in access cuz the basement into which connects the backyard closes after 9pm.

Under limited access the best I can do after 9pm is to shape aluminum foil into a bowl, place food in it and carefully throw it down from 4 stories up so it lands without splattering which is a daunting task per se. The problem with this is, the other 2 cats being nearer to the building smell the food and eat it before the other cat has a chance to claim it.
 

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Several years ago, I took care of two cats outside for a few years. (They are now inside, sleeping on my couch!) I bought shelters for them, one wooden by The Ark Workshop and one made of a water-resistant sturdy vinyl by K & H. I lined them in straw at first, but ended up purchasing heated electrical pads by K & H. I think they are a good, reliable brand and many of their products can be found on Chewy as well as Amazon. It sounds like you have access to electricity, but if you don't, you could try self-warming pads or make beds out of straw (not hay) which cats can burrow into and stay warm.

I'm not quite picturing the situation with the third cat. Does he have any kind of schedule where you could be ready to go outside with food for him before the others eat it? Or is there a separate spot he frequents away from the others where you could leave dry food? Do you think he needs medical help and maybe you need to trap him and get him to a vet? Any chance he has a home somewhere? Sorry for all the questions... just trying to figure out how to help! Thanks for all you are doing for these cats
 

Kwik

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Yes its an apt building.
No one uses the closet which is used for storage. As mentioned, its dusty and stores bikes and old hardware equipment.
Yes the building's super is well aware of the alternative use of the closet which is a cat shelter.
So happy to know you've spoken with the Super and that's all good,thanks for the reply.Im in a Condo myself and it's an entirely different matter when there are multiple units with common areas compared to a single family home-complicates things so much...

Please keep us posted and updated about these kitties-look forward to seeing you in the Forums,would love to see photos of your inside furbabies too
 

backwoodsvet

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On the 3rd noisy one, you may have to find a time that fits it's time period and an area hopefully nearby that IT feels o.k about covering, With my colony, I have 2 that are TNR'ed and they don't want to interact with the whole crowd, everyday I have a special place off to the side for them and they are quite comfortable with that, you may have to end up with something like that for a while, till all are happy.....your 3rd noisy one may even be a fixed cat that was a drop off and is now scared to come around you and/or those other two cats........On this 3rd one, my guess is that it's scared and hungry and is voicing that, or like someone said maybe injured and to scared to move, (is the meow always from same direction??) OR he may be trapped and calling for help......
BUT, I agree with you, this 3rd one should be the one of concern the most, you already have the other two
 
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sil

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Several years ago, I took care of two cats outside for a few years. (They are now inside, sleeping on my couch!) I bought shelters for them, one wooden by The Ark Workshop and one made of a water-resistant sturdy vinyl by K & H. I lined them in straw at first, but ended up purchasing heated electrical pads by K & H. I think they are a good, reliable brand and many of their products can be found on Chewy as well as Amazon. .
1st off, let me begin by apologizing my my late reply. Now, I think at this point fan heaters which blow out hot air is a better choice. That way the cats are warmed in warm circulating air. The issue with that is that the space is a brick and mortar with no door. So cold air will seep in so I dont know how effective the fans will be against that element.

The fans aren't big. Theyre about 10 inches tall. At that size, it may limit how effective they are in blowing heat.

I'm not quite picturing the situation with the third cat. Does he have any kind of schedule where you could be ready to go outside with food for him before the others eat it? Or is there a separate spot he frequents away from the others where you could leave dry food? Do you think he needs medical help and maybe you need to trap him and get him to a vet? Any chance he has a home somewhere? Sorry for all the questions... just trying to figure out how to help! Thanks for all you are doing for these cats
As to the 3rd cat, he usually comes around in the am hours. Theres no access to the backyard for feeding after 9pm since the elevator to the basement is disabled by then by building policy. The only way to feed him is by "air dropping" food which means when he comes around late night (if he does at all), I crumple aluminum foil into a bowl shape, add food then drop it into the backyard from my floor.

Another solution is to set a trap. But since there are more than a few cats roaming the area its hard to trap this specific cat.

Let me know your thoughts.
 
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sil

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On this 3rd one, my guess is that it's scared and hungry and is voicing that, or like someone said maybe injured and to scared to move, (is the meow always from same direction??) OR he may be trapped and calling for help......
He's not trapped but moves around.
 
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sil

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I'm looking for a means of warmth for. In my building is a storage room made of brick and mortar with no door with cardboard boxes and food for these strays. This room has the dimensions of 12 x 8 x 4. Cold winter air enters in there since theres no door. I was thinking of buying 3 heating fans to blow hot air to circulate in the storage space. Do you think this is a good idea?
 
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I am always leery of electricity, but I know people who use things like this with no problems.
If there's no door, can you aim their boxes towards a wall with the opening near it to cut down on drafts?
Community Cat Shelter Options Gallery
This might give you some extra ideas. :)
 
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sil

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I am always leery of electricity, but I know people who use things like this with no problems.
If there's no door, can you aim their boxes towards a wall with the opening near it to cut down on drafts?
Community Cat Shelter Options Gallery
This might give you some extra ideas. :)
Appreciate the reply. I will point the boxes towards the wall a bit but not too much as the strays are leery of movement so I want them to feel confident about their surroundings.

Appreciate the link!!
 
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