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Tips on Convincing Feral Cats to Take Shelter

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First, thank you to anyone out there who’s taken the time to build a feral cat shelter. Protection from the elements is vital, especially during the cold months, and your thoughtfulness will no doubt save many lives this winter. And for those who haven’t yet constructed a shelter for your local feral colony? Go here  for a quick video. It’s a straight-forward, affordable approach suited for even the most novice of builders.

Now, for those who are ready to outfit their finished shelter, like the one built by Bob Cattinazzo, you’re probably wondering how you go about convincing feral cats that it’s safe to enter.

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Let’s talk placement. You’ll want to situate your shelter with the front facing away from the wind, rain, and snow. A discreet location is ideal for keeping the cats safe and any neighbors who might not be in favor of ferals happy.

Don’t put the structure directly on the ground. Doing so makes it colder and an easier target for curious wildlife. So elevate it a good four to six inches using discarded pallets or bricks.

Camouflaging your shelter is key. The less attention it attracts, the better. Earth tones are a great paint choice. Also, feel free to cover the structure in leaves or other suitable  materials.

Layer a healthy amount of straw across the interior floor of the shelter. And make sure you’re using straw, not hay! Hay molds when it gets wet while straw resists the elements and remains a viable, cozy bedding material.

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If there are corners of the structure that you feel sure will remain dry no matter what Mother Nature brings on, include fleece and/or wool blankets for warmth in addition to the straw.

Finally, keep the opening to the shelter no bigger than six to eight inches wide in order to deter predators.

Do these things and the feral cats will come! Maybe not in droves to begin with, but remember, patience is key. Before you know it, your shelter will show signs of use and that’s a guaranteed warm, fuzzy feeling.

Now you may be thinking to yourself: what about food? The experts agree that food should not be placed inside of the cat shelter. Though it’s attractive to the cats, it’s irresistible to wild animals who’d happily interrupt someone else’s nap in order to raid the pantry. Instead, construct a feeding station for both food and water. It’s even more simple than building your shelter and takes less time. Learn how!

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Lydia Lee lives in Seattle with two sweet, if slightly out of control, dogs. She loves reading, food, and the opportunity to make a difference.