How To Help Feral Cats This Winter

Winter is a cold and potentially dangerous time of year for feral and homeless cats, whether or not a polar vortex is pushing arctic air into your neighborhood. Here’s some ways to help.

Alley Cat Allies is a national advocacy organization dedicated to the protection and humane treatment of feral cats (www.alleycat.org). You may have seen their “I’m an alley cat ally” ads featuring Hollywood personalities including Portia De Rossi. Alley Cat Allies has posted a good article on how to help feral cats during the winter at www.alleycat.org/WinterWeather.

Another way to help is to contact one of your local feral cat organizations. Alley Cat Allies has a posted a contact form at www.alleycat.org/sslpage.aspx?pid=1452 so they can connect you with an organization in your area that is a member of their Feral Friends Network.

You can also find local feral cat assistance groups by doing search via Google for “feral cat (insert your city or area).” Contact your local group and ask how you can help.

One of the best ways to help feral and homeless cats during the winter is to provide shelters to keep them warm and out of the weather. Here’s a great video on how to make a simple low cost shelter from a plastic tote box. It even includes a cute cat helper providing supervision.

So get out there and help feral cats this winter. You may make some new friends – both human and feline.

“The Cat Rescuers” documentary film

The Cat Rescuers is a new documentary film about the volunteer heroes in New York City who are trying to make a dent in the 500,000+ population of New York’s street cats, because as we know, the humane societies nationwide cannot do it all themselves.

See the 2 minute trailer!

http://catrescuersfilm.com/

Meet some of the city’s rescuers:

http://catrescuersfilm.com/the-rescuers/

Schedule of upcoming screenings:

http://catrescuersfilm.com/screenings/

Learn how you can host a screening in your community:

http://catrescuersfilm.com/host-a-screening/

The film isn’t available on DVD yet, but it will be available for purchase later this year! We’ll put a notice in our newsletter when it’s available (if you aren’t signed up for our newsletter, you can sign up here).

 
 
 
 

How to make shelters for feral cats in freezing weather

Weather.com is predicting the “Coldest Arctic Outbreak in at Least Two Decades” will hit the Midwest this week, so we wanted to send out this special edition of the Cat Faeries Newsletter because saving the lives of feral/community cats is critical. We did not include our usual photos of customer’s cats (which this month are calicos and torties) as we wanted to get this important message out right away. We’ll send another newsletter later this week with our usual “cute video” and the cat of the month… plus a sale!

We asked A Friend of Cat Faeries who is a good researcher and a great friend to all cats including the ferals and community cats what she does in her super cold upper Mid West Winters. Here’s her report on REALLY easy to make shelters with lots of links to which she’s made her comments. She also gives us her own personal instructions which have been tested and perfected over many years.


To make a cat shelter

An outdoor cat shelter can be easily made in several ways. What works very well are those knee-high Rubbermaid tubs with the snap on lids or a large Styrofoam cooler. I’ve done both. The Rubbermaid tubs do weather over time, becoming brittle after 3 years or so, but they’re very sturdy and cats do use them easily.

Rubbermaid Tub – I use the Rubbermaid Roughneck 25 gallon storage container. They cost around $6 each, generally come in blue or gray and are knee high. You can find them your local hardware store or a big box store.
http://www.rubbermaid.com/en-US/roughneck-storage-box

You will need to cut a 4 or 5” circle into the side of the tub about 4” above ground level, to avoid splash back with rain or snow burying the entrance. You can cut with a box cutter, but make sure you don’t have the blade slide unexpectedly, be careful. The plastic is fairly thick. I used a saw to do it. Use a file to smooth down the rough edges as much as you can.

Find a cardboard box that will fit into the Rubbermaid bin snugly, set it inside with open end up and put a pad of folded newspapers under the cardboard box. Draw a circle on I where the side meets the hole you just cut. Cut out the circle on the cardboard. Slide more folded newspapers in around the box on three sides which provides excellent insulation. You can use straw instead of newspapers if you have it.

Inside the cardboard box put a layer of straw or a folded blanket. Straw is usually recommended but I’ve had cats pee in it and it’s easy to remove and start over – if there is urine present, they don’t want to use the shelter afterwards. If you use a folded/rumpled blanket inside, you’ll need to check it once a week to make sure moisture wasn’t tracked in and cause the blanket to freeze. The blanket will need to be washed at least every few weeks as well in fragrance free soap and dried in a dry sheet free drier.

I really love the outdoor farm animal heating pads that can be plugged into an outdoor outlet or garage outlet. They cost in the range of $40 from a farm store and has worked fine for 5 years now. It’s only plugged in during winter but left inside the shelter year-round. It has a fleece covering on it which definitely needs to be washed every two months or so. To allow for the cord to be used, you’ll need to cut a 1 ½” wide hole at the bottom of the bin and cardboard box to feed the electrical cord through. The wattage used by the heating pad is minimal, it never overheats and it provides a lot of warmth for the cat WITHOUT requiring the use of straw or a blanket in the box. In fact, the instructions on the pad is that it not be covered by anything or have anything other than a bare surface under it.

If the cardboard box has flaps on the top, fold them closed and add more newspapers on top. If there are no flaps, set a piece of cardboard over the top and add the newspapers. Snap the Rubbermaid lid back on and set a brick or something weighty on top to avoid wind from lifting the lid off.

Placement of the shelter should be near a garage or under bushes with the hole facing away from the main wind direction. One too close to a door of a house may spook the cats so the garage area is often going to feel safer for the cats. I’ve noticed that the shelter near my side door isn’t used anywhere near as often as the one in the back.

Styrofoam Container – I found a pair of knee high flat sided coolers at Goodwill for $3 each. They were square which is what you want, you do not want one with slanted sides. This link shows the type similar to the ones I found (though it’s rectangular). https://www.indiamart.com/proddetail/foam-corrugated-box-7986443148.html

Slant sided coolers have less interior space so try to find one that’s vertical sided. Look for coolers that are 16 – 20 inches tall. When I cut a small hole in mine, I first made it 3” wide but didn’t think a cat could get into that. My Siamese didn’t even hesitate, she took one look and snaked into it in three seconds. Given that she’s a small cat and the outdoor ones are generally larger, I made the hole a bit larger, at 4 ½” and that works fine for any adult cat I’ve seen outside.

If you use this type for a shelter, the Styrofoam is very easily cut with a steak knife. Place the hole above ground level. A 4 or 5” round hole is easily sawed in and large enough for an adult cat (but not a raccoon and generally not an adult opossum to get in). I made mine wider by taking two of the knee-high coolers and cutting out one side of each and duct taping them together to make an extended shelter. The lids were duct taped too, and to avoid any rain seeping into the shelter from the top I set a wide plastic sheet over it and anchored it down with two bricks. Coolers are generally white, which blends well with white siding or white walls on structures. You can put a tarp over the container if you wish, also, for coverage, anchoring the sides down with a weight of some sort.

You won’t need to use a cardboard box inside these because Styrofoam is an excellent insulator by itself. Adding a heating pad, blanket or straw inside is going to work just fine. Make sure to place the opening AWAY from the major wind direction.

For a cat to feel even safer, a second hole can be cut for a quick exit, but I’ve found that heat doesn’t stay in the shelter as well when you do that UNLESS you hang a towel over that second hole, attaching it to the outside of the shelter. If it’s inside it’s not going to stay in place, so outside is the only way. It can be glued or have a weight on it, but it should be done in such a way as to keep the wind from blowing it off kilter. You don’t want wind to howl through from hole to hole, that reduces the ability of the cat to stay warm inside.

My Rubbermaid shelter lasted 3 years before the plastic cracked due to weathering and I had to replace it. My Styrofoam shelter has been in use for almost 7 years with no damage.

Links and my notes

Humane society Rubbermaid bins using a Styrofoam box inside instead of cardboard.

https://jeffersoncountyhumanesociety.net/easy-build-shelter-outdoor-cats/

One using TWO Rubbermaid bins, nestled together.

https://wreg.com/2015/01/07/easy-to-make-shelter-for-outdoor-animals/

Styrofoam shelter raised up on wood chocks to avoid rain splash back.

https://www.aspcapro.org/resource/spayneuter-feral-cats/winter-shelter-bins-community-cats-faq

Styrofoam shelter (hole is TOO big on the left one, right one should not have the cover on the bottom, it can shift off its foundation.

https://www.instructables.com/id/Easy-Winter-Cat-Shelter/

From the UK which also discusses hedgehogs!

https://www.jbpackaging.co.uk/blog/homemade-hedgehog-house.html

Bottom picture (hole is still too big)

http://www.carolsferals.org/how-you-can-help-feral-and-stray-cats-in-your-neighborhood/

https://www.catsinmyyard.com/quick-and-easy-ideas-for-low-cost-outdoor-cat-shelters-1843

Fresh snow is helpful as it shows fresh paw prints, so you know if a cat came in or out for shelter. It also tells you if they are not using it which would indicate something inside needs cleaning. Look for urine, feces and vomit. If you find feces that do not resemble a cat’s it could be from an Opossum. The hole is usually too small for a raccoon.
 
 
 
 

Where to Donate Money for the Victims of the Sonoma/Napa Wildfires

We’ve gotten emails from many of our readers and customers asking us where to donate money for the victims (furry and otherwise) of the Sonoma/Napa wild fires. Since this is our ‘hood and we know most of these organizations personally you can feel assured that your money will go where you intend it to go. This cannot be said of the American Red Cross – sadly, stories of squandering money have been circulating for many years.

For cats and dogs, and other small animals:
Sonoma Humane Society
5345 Highway 12
Santa Rosa, CA 95407

You can watch videos and see photos on their Facebook page. Many animals are already re-united with their families. They gave shelter to a personal friend’s two dogs when he and his family had to evacuate (they are all back home now)
https://www.facebook.com/SonomaHumane/

For wildlife rescue and rehabilitation:
WildCare
76 Albert Park Lane
San Rafael, CA 94901

Their Facebook page isn’t being updated very often due to the high demand to help wild birds and animals. Our own bunny vet, Dr. Deborah Scheenstra is one of WildCare’s volunteer veterinarians and Auntie Cat Faerie’s chiropractor is on their Squirrel Team.
https://www.facebook.com/WildCareBayArea/

To help farms and farmers who have lost everything or who’s land is being fouled by the toxins and ash falling from the sky:
CAFF (Community Alliance with Family Farmers)
PO Box 363
Davis, CA 956616
http://www.caff.org/north-bay-fires/

Of special interest – the USDA offers assistance to farms who have been affected by disaster anywhere in the US.
https://www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/disaster-assistance-program/index

 
 
 
 

The Heartbreaking Napa and Sonoma Fires

As you know we are in San Francisco, just a wine bottle’s throw away from the fires. As our skies are full of smoky air we are following this horror closely. In particular we are tracking how it’s effecting animals – and donating. If you’d like to follow the Sonoma Humane Society’s effects to rescue and reunite. Here’s their Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/SonomaHumane/

Sonoma and Napa counties are very dear to us in so many ways. We have many friends and business partners there, and friends of friends, so many memories, and so much more. The scenery and the people are like no place else. So many memories and beautiful experiences.

We are so painfully aware of all every tragic event this year and how each of these crises are affecting all of us, including the animals that have been harmed directly or indirectly. Remember, every single action, every single thought has either a positive effect or a negative one. Love. Remember to love. It’s a choice and you can easily make it even on those rough days when it’s so easy to go down the negative road. Don’t do it. Take the high road, persist and be kind. And help others and animals in any way that you can.

 

FOUND CAT 10/9/17: Stray Neutered Male Tabby with white chest. No collar. This sweet cat was found under a car in the Sutter Santa Rosa Hospital lot. He is currently safe at Sonoma Humane Society 707-542-0882. Please spread the word. #LOSTPETSsonomacountyfire2017
 
 
 
 

How To Help Animal Victims of Hurricane Harvey and How to Prepare for Emergencies

Our resident feline expert – Issac Newton – writes on how to help cats and other animals affected by Hurricane Harvey, as well as preparing your own household for emergencies.


Newton’s Purrspective – Hurricane Harvey and Beyond

You have probably heard of the courageous people risking their own lives to save abandoned animals following the devastation of Hurricane Harvey in Texas. http://www.lovemeow.com/cats-rescued-houston-residents-stay-behind-to-help-save-stranded-animals-from-flood-waters-2478964880.html?from=homer

You may also be wondering what you can do to help. But aren’t sure who to trust with your efforts or hard-earned money.




Isaac Newton

Most of us are not in a position to physically help with rescue efforts, so you might be considering sending money to a relief organization. Many groups are doing wonderful work, but sadly, not all can be trusted in this electronic world. Since 9/11 there have been many stories, for example, about The American Red Cross not distributing money as they promised.

How can you tell if your potential recipient will spend the money to help hurricane victims? How can you tell if an unfamiliar group is a legitimate charity? The Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance http://www.give.org/for-donors/about-specific-giving-guidance/disaster-relief-donations/ is an excellent place to start.

Rescue organizations across the country are partnering up to help the overcrowded Texas shelters by transporting displaced animals to other states. If you live in a state near Texas your local shelter may be accepting some of these cats, dogs and other animals like bunnies. If you know a shelter that is taking in evacuated pets you can donate food, bedding, cat litter, dishes etc.

In general, cats are very “location oriented” and have a much more difficult time with losing their homes than “people oriented” dogs. Perhaps you have experience in foster care. Fostering a displaced animal can not only supply an immediate need, it can also free up room at shelters.

In fact, if you have been considering adopting a cat, now is a great time to do it. (Of course, attempts will be made to reunite families, but there are many adoptable cats in shelters waiting for forever homes.)

Hurricane season is not over and disasters are possible wherever you live. The Red Cross explains how to prepare yourself for such emergency situations. http://www.redcross.org/get-help/prepare-for-emergencies/be-red-cross-ready/get-a-kit However, animals are not considered and may not be allowed in shelters designated for people only.

Redrover has been helping animals in crisis situations for 30 years. Their website provides a comprehensive list of supplies needed for cats. https://redrover.org/disaster-supplies-cats

Cat Faeries flower essences may also help Kitty through a stressful situation. I recommend Moves and Changes, and Calm and Serene. Convivial House Cat can be used in tandem for added calming and the ability to cope with stress.

Having a plan and supplies gathered is as important as having a list of emergency numbers by your phone. You might get a few backpacks and fill them with first aid materials, cash in small bills, food and water for all of the species in your home and keep them near the front door or the garage door in the event that you need to make a quick exit. It’s always a good idea to have carriers in good shape, clean and that contain a carrier pad – Cat Faeries waterproof washable pads are excellent choice. And, of course, the time to make your plan is now – long before you are told to evacuate.

Another wise precaution is posting a sign saying there are animals inside your house to alert first responders. https://secure.aspca.org/take-action/order-your-pet-safety-pack Wallet cards and keyring tags saying “my pet is home alone” are widely available and could save lives if you are sick or injured and unable to return home.

While this story centered on Hurricane Harvey, at the time of this writing Hurricane Irma was threatening to strike. We also cannot forget about the horrible fires in The Pacific Northwest, throughout California including Los Angeles and Yosemite National Park, Montana, Oregon and the people and animals who will be displaced, or worse.

Help others whenever you can, and above all, be safe! And be sure to hug and kiss your cat and loved ones!



Photo courtesy of the Southeast Volusia Humane Society