Update: Here is a helpful video tutorial to go along with Anna's post:
Winter Cat Shelter Instructions from Anna:
By Anna Santillian
Our friend Anna (pictured here with her beautiful orange boy, Shaman) is truly a champion for all animals. She has generously agreed to share her tips on building effective and lifesaving winter shelters for feral cats. Thank you Anna! You can visit Anna's Facebook page, Auntie's Cat Connection , for more information, photos and to share your ideas.
Building The Shelters
As winter is on our heels, our outdoor kitties will need our help more and more. You can make them shelters and feeding stations out of materials you may have around the house or get for free from grocery stores. Last year I had 2 big outdoor plastic garbage cans, I got boxes from the store, flattened them and used them to line the garbage cans for insulation, I then got straw (not hay, straw will wick away moisture they will track in and is excellent for insulation) (also do not use blankets, towels, rugs or the like in shelters as they will hold moisture from the cat's feet and fur and they will get chilled and cold). This time of year straw should be easy enough to find at home improvement stores. I stuffed straw between the cardboard and the plastic cans and then inside making a nice nest deep inside. Laid both cans on top of plastic milk crates to keep them off the ground and snow, had them facing each other with a board on top of the crates so the cats can step up into either garbage can which are facing each other. I then laid a big plastic tarp over both and secured them by either tying them or placing bricks to hold the tarps in place, leave the middle where they walk into just a bit loose so they can go in, it should hang down to keep snow and wind from entering the shelters.
Building a Feeding Station
We had the Blizzard of 2011 in Chicago last winter, one of my ferals hid in the shelter I made him and on extremely cold days would spend time in the heated feeding station.This winter I made him new shelters, 2 bins inside of each other with an electric heated seedling mat inside one and the other filled with straw, his choice, and I changed out all the stuffing in the one he used last year. (see video below)
Thanks for caring for our feline friends! They sure do appreciate our help.
Thanks so much Anna! We appreciate you so much, as do the feral cats you care for in Illinois!
Here is a video Anna took detailing this years' winter cat shelter: