Winter structures for ferals and worrying too much

leeann77

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I am already so stressed out worrying about my ferals with winter coming!!! I go through this every year where I can’t sleep worrying about them. Anyone else have this kind of stress? I have lots of insulated feral cat houses with straw. I run about a 200 ft extension cord down to my woods and can plug in 1 or 2 with extreme weather heated beds in them.
I’d like them to have a protected area to walk around in that’s covered. I recently bought the lot next door and it has a gigantic barn thing with room underneath. One of the ferals already goes under there to wait for food every morning. I think I will stretch vinyl around most of the bottom to block the wind.

My main question is has anyone ever cut a hole in their garden shed? I am having a brand new 10 x 12 shed delivered tomorrow and am debating if I could cut a small 6 inch hole in it for the cats to have some shelter. Can a raccoon fit through there? I don’t want my new shed getting ruined from raccoons or opossums living in it. The other question is whether or not the cats would even go in there.
Someone online suggested a Shed-in-a-box ”portable” type shed with soft sides, maybe that would at least block some wind and snow. My neighbors are going to think I’m insane but I’ll feel better if the cats have multiple options. I wish I could think of a better heat option but it’s too far away from the house and I’m also afraid of fires.
I can’t talk to anyone that I know because they already think I’m nuts but I knew you all would understand! Thank you! 😊
 

Morpheus1967

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I would say if you live in an area where racoons are prevalent, any type of shelter you set up for cats a racoon will be able to access. The only thing I can think of possibly doing is if you are serious about cutting a hole in your shed, do it a few feet off the ground. Then build and attach a "landing pad" at the height of the hole. That way the cats can jump from ground level to the landing pad, then access the shed. Racoons, while very good climbers, can't jump. I would think the difficult part would be getting the ferals to use it.
 

fionasmom

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It sounds as if you have thoroughly researched feral shelters if you are already at the point of having insulated houses and heating, so there is probably nothing that I can add to that. I don't have a garden shed and may not even fully understand their significance, but I did have the fence installer cut cat sized "doors" in all the wooden fences around the property so that they can have easy access. In my case, it is mostly so that they have a bolt hole if a coyote were hot on their tail. We do have raccoons here and they will come occasionally for the outdoor food. The ones I see are bigger than the ferals, so I don't know if there is a subtle size distinction that might help or not. I have had possums use outdoor bedding, and skunks, but these were either crates with full sized openings or the garage itself. I don't think that a catio would solve your problems; I could be wrong, but if a cat can access it, so can everything else. Thank you for taking such good care of these ferals. I do the same thing out here although it does not get as cold as where you more than likely live.
 

shadowsrescue

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I was the one who used a Shed in a Box for years. My feral boys had heated houses and heated beds inside the shed. I was only ever able to close the front flap 1/2 each year as they freaked out. Yet that was enough to keep them warm and dry.

I also used hound heaters to keep the insulated wooden cat houses my husband made warmer. When it was around 25 outside, the heated houses stayed around 60!

I did have an occasional raccoon venture into the shelter. Yet I was always sure to never feed them inside the shelter. Food is what attracts the raccoons.

I used to worry like crazy every single winter. I dreaded winter. You are not alone in your worry.
 

theravenisblack

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I am already so stressed out worrying about my ferals with winter coming!!! I go through this every year where I can’t sleep worrying about them. Anyone else have this kind of stress? I have lots of insulated feral cat houses with straw. I run about a 200 ft extension cord down to my woods and can plug in 1 or 2 with extreme weather heated beds in them.
I’d like them to have a protected area to walk around in that’s covered. I recently bought the lot next door and it has a gigantic barn thing with room underneath. One of the ferals already goes under there to wait for food every morning. I think I will stretch vinyl around most of the bottom to block the wind.

My main question is has anyone ever cut a hole in their garden shed? I am having a brand new 10 x 12 shed delivered tomorrow and am debating if I could cut a small 6 inch hole in it for the cats to have some shelter. Can a raccoon fit through there? I don’t want my new shed getting ruined from raccoons or opossums living in it. The other question is whether or not the cats would even go in there.
Someone online suggested a Shed-in-a-box ”portable” type shed with soft sides, maybe that would at least block some wind and snow. My neighbors are going to think I’m insane but I’ll feel better if the cats have multiple options. I wish I could think of a better heat option but it’s too far away from the house and I’m also afraid of fires.
I can’t talk to anyone that I know because they already think I’m nuts but I knew you all would understand! Thank you! 😊
I live in Quebec & have been taking care of 20-25 cats for a few years now. I am almost done with my preparations for winter. It is really important to have a number of areas that they can use as shelters, to get away from catfights, etc. - not all cats like company. I make styrofoam-lined bins & put straw in them, put material to cover the door & blanket to cover the bin as well. I put these in different areas but always out of the weather. I have another shed (one end open with no door, to drive in) with one end filled with bales of straw & I've also made a loft. I put a couple of bins up there & some straw laying on the boards. The cats love this loft. I also have what they call a tempo in Quebec - a temporary car shelter (tent structure) which isn't that big. I have recreated a barn in this with bales of straw, a few styrofoam-lined wood boxes & couple of bins, other cubbies made between bales. Also, some beds with wool blankets. Lots of cozy spots. I have a large front porch on & use one end to put straw bales, bins, chairs with blankets. I also made a large insulated box that has 2 compartments with straw that I put a tarp on as it's not weather/waterproof. The cats have used this sitting close to the ground but I think that they would feel safer if it was up off the ground. So, I'm going to move it up off the ground about 4 ft, in between some trees. Like a treehouse. I'll make 1 or 2 landing steps for them to jump on/up.
You are not alone on the worrying - I constantly think of my cats & it just gets worse as it gets colder. To say that taking care of my cats is stressful is an understatement. Things have been better lately as I've been working with a rescue network making progress on spaying/neutering, catching the kittens for adoption, etc.
When I have everything prepared for the winter, it does make me feel better. At least I know that I'm doing everything I can to make winters easier on them. My cats do enjoy the snow - I've seen them playing in it, rolling & jumping in it & chasing snowballs.
I have done a lot of searching online for heat supplies. I want to provide some source of heat for the really cold days/nights but am too afraid to use electric pads or the like. It sounds like some people have had good experiences & they seem to work well - I'm just really paranoid & haven't felt comfortable enough to give them a try. I would like to try the heated water bowls though. Since I am fortunate enough to do my office job from home, I am able to provide warm water for them numerous times a day in the winter. Anyway, I just joined the forum to share information/learnings, talk...thank you for listening.
 
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leeann77

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I’m sorry, I never saw this reply!! Thank you so much for taking so much time to write all of that!!! It sounds like we have similar worries. You are a saint for doing all of that, I don’t think I could handle that many cats. I have made some new storage bins lined with insulation, I think they are 45 gallon and the heated pet beds fit in them. I run an extension cord from my garage all the way down to my woods, probably 200 ft or more. It’s enough to plug in two heated pet beds and a heated water bowl. I think the beds only use maybe 40 watts each and the bowl is only 25 watts. The beds only heat up to body temperature when there is weight on them, I think as long as the houses have an escape hole in case anything electrical happens, but I’ve never had a problem. I’m so tempted to cut a hole in my new shed but I don’t know how to keep raccoons and opossums out. I talked to a woman that runs a cat rescue and right now I’m trying to tame a little 6 month old kitty and find it a home. It’s not going very well, it’s in my spare room and the poor thing is scared to death, I can’t pet it. It will break my heart if I have to let it go back outside. I’m attaching pics of the beds and bowl I have if you’re interested, sorry I couldn’t figure out how to copy the link lol. Thanks again and good luck to you!!!!!
 

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leeann77

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Thank you everyone, for some reason I didn’t get any of these notifications. It sounds like we are all in the same boat. I just have to tell myself that I’ve done everything I can and at least they have food and water. A couple ferals have been around for probably 9 years so somehow they always survive! Good luck everyone!
 

torn

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I’m sorry, I never saw this reply!! Thank you so much for taking so much time to write all of that!!! It sounds like we have similar worries. You are a saint for doing all of that, I don’t think I could handle that many cats. I have made some new storage bins lined with insulation, I think they are 45 gallon and the heated pet beds fit in them. I run an extension cord from my garage all the way down to my woods, probably 200 ft or more. It’s enough to plug in two heated pet beds and a heated water bowl. I think the beds only use maybe 40 watts each and the bowl is only 25 watts. The beds only heat up to body temperature when there is weight on them, I think as long as the houses have an escape hole in case anything electrical happens, but I’ve never had a problem. I’m so tempted to cut a hole in my new shed but I don’t know how to keep raccoons and opossums out. I talked to a woman that runs a cat rescue and right now I’m trying to tame a little 6 month old kitty and find it a home. It’s not going very well, it’s in my spare room and the poor thing is scared to death, I can’t pet it. It will break my heart if I have to let it go back outside. I’m attaching pics of the beds and bowl I have if you’re interested, sorry I couldn’t figure out how to copy the link lol. Thanks again and good luck to you!!!!!
I worry sick about my ferals too. I just had to relocate them to my backyard. This is the 2nd week in their catio. Here's a pic. I also have heated beds in it. Is 20 watts hot enough? Mine too only heats to their body temp when the lay on it. I just hope they will be warm enough. It got 25 the other night and one of the cats was on the top shelf of the Catio and not in the heated bed. I let them out in a couple of weeks. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078LMQWR5/?tag=thecatsite
 
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leeann77

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I worry sick about my ferals too. I just had to relocate them to my backyard. This is the 2nd week in their catio. Here's a pic. I also have heated beds in it. Is 20 watts hot enough? Mine too only heats to their body temp when the lay on it. I just hope they will be warm enough. It got 25 the other night and one of the cats was on the top shelf of the Catio and not in the heated bed. I let them out in a couple of weeks. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078LMQWR5/?tag=thecatsite
Wow, that catio is amazing!!! Yes, I think the heated beds are enough to keep them from freezing too much. I have one feral that lives with me now and I remember her spending the winter outside- it was zero degrees and she was playing with snowballs! I thought “wow, that cat isn’t suffering at all!”. Somehow they make it. 😊
 

torn

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Thank you! I worry sick like you. It's not that warm so my husband cut fiberglass and I wrap it up during rain or when it snows.

They aren't happy right now with the relocation but I hope they will be soon. I'm going to open the door in 2 weeks so they can roam.

I feel so bad for them right now being locked up and I pray that when I do open the door, the cats will not run away.
 

fionasmom

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I have used many K & H products and never had a problem with them. There is one in my garage where there is a bed for the ferals that is hooked up all winter. Given that L A is not that cold, they seem fine. But just like cats do, they often don't use it and I have no idea where some of them sleep.
 
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