Where’s the global warming these days?
I know it’s really hard to watch the ferals outside, worry about how they can possibly make it thru these freezing (and below) temperatures, but they do manage to make it.
When I’ve had cats in traps in the garage during really cold weather, it amazes me how much heat they produce. If you lift the trap up and feel the table beneath them, it’s almost hot to the touch. Of course, I still cover them with a bunch of blankets, finishing off with an electric blanket because I have the same mindset that everyone else has - how can they possibly stay warm!
I want to emphasize the best way to support the ferals in the winter: STRAW in whatever house you provide as fabric retains moisture, even good wool blankets. Houses can be dog igloos, Rubbermaid tubs, Styrofoam shipping containers duct taped together or the really nice ones you can buy from different organizations that have two levels inside. I know people who shove a bale of straw under their deck, close to the dryer vent and the cats do just fine. There are electric heating pads designed for outdoor dog kennels that many people use for their ferals – be sure to cover them with something to prevent punctures and electrocution. If you just can’t stand it and let the cats into your garage to warm up, be sure to provide them with a litter box – they can really trash a garage in a short amount of time – urine and feces are not a big deal to them!
Do the best you can to provide water – some people just pour warm water into the bowls so that it takes longer for them to freeze. Some caretakers have purchased Snuggle disks that can be heated in the microwave, then created a holder out of Styrofoam or Great Stuff for the disks and set the water bowls on top of the disks, keeping the water from freezing. And there are electric water bowls for birds that the cats will use if you have an outlet.
You may not be able to provide canned food at this time of the year – it can freeze quickly. Try to provide the best dry food you can afford – look for fat content.
Have you noticed how the cats balloon up at this time of year? There is a colony out South that I swore they had all new cats come Fall – they almost doubled in size. This can be the result of the feral cat metabolism, holding onto each calorie and conserving it. Come Spring they will be back to their original svelte selves.
Of course a big mid-section can also mean worms, so watch out for that, too! Although the ferals get an injectable dewormer when they are neutered, it doesn’t always knock out the roundworms, they can get them again and a severe infestation can kill the host. So if it looks like the cat is throwing up spaghetti, call your feral-friendly vet and get some Drontal to put in their food – two doses at least, 7 – 10 days apart.
If your feral is limping, keep an eye on him for a couple of days – it can be as simple as ice forming between his toes, or a bad landing resulting in a pulled muscle. Do not panic, many injuries will heal up on their own. But, if something is not healing, please re-trap the cat. Hopefully, you have made your vet feral-friendly, but if not, we do have some vets we recommend. But all of them require a feral to be in a trap, for everyone’s safety.
As soon as the temperatures dropped past 30 degrees, there was an increase in phone calls to Feral Fixers. We did go on hiatus as of December 16th, so people need to hold out until February or transport the animals themselves. We will be off and running as soon as the temperature will allow. It is very difficult to predict how the weather will be in February, we will have to wait and see.
One of my many tasks is picking up the mail from the P.O. Box. It has been a real treat the past few weeks as so many people sent us kind words and year-end donations! Thank you all so much!!!
One of the main purposes of mailing out this newsletter is to be sure that everyone knows about Frosty Claws – our event on Sunday, January 17th. In order to save money on postage we do not mail to those individuals who receive our newsletter online, but we try to get at least one mailing out each year, maybe two! At Frosty Claws you can have a hot drink, some great baked goodies, visit our Silent Auction and our Boutique, participate in our raffle and socialize with other cat-friendly people while listening to cat-themed music. Everyone had a really good time last year, please think about joining us! You can mail in your reservation donation early – be sure we get it by January 14th at the P.O. Box or use PayPal. I appreciate this opportunity to touch base with all of you, but would like to see you all in person! If you can’t make it to Frosty Claws, come see us at our Summer and Fall events!
Keep in mind how many more cats there would be out there in the cold right now if we hadn’t had your help! We can’t bring them all inside, but we can make fewer of them and improve the lives of those outside!
2010 promises to be another busy year - please help us make it a success, too!