Feral cats live outside out of necessity, preference or fear. They roam the neighborhood and take handouts or fend for themselves. In the summer, life is good, but in the winter, they need help getting out of chilly temperatures. You can help them by building a feral cat house.
Cut a round hole about 6 inches in diameter with a box cutter or jigsaw in the side of the tub near the bottom. The hole does not need to be perfectly round; feral cats are not particular. The hole needs to be large enough for the cat to enter but not so large that excessive wind and rain will invade the tub.
Secure the thermal blanket to the inside of the tub with freezer tape. Cut a hole in the blanket where it overlaps the hole in the tub. Trim as needed. Line the inside of the tub lid with a piece of thermal blanket as well, leaving a gap around the rim so you can still close the lid onto the tub. The thermal blanket acts as insulation and helps reflect the cat's body heat back onto him.
Make a nest in the container out of the straw. Not only can the cat nestle down in the straw to keep warm, the straw gives the cat a way to avoid any moisture that may build up on the blanket.
Sit the tub on the bricks to keep it off the ground. By having the container slightly elevated, you prevent water from pouring across the yard and into the opening.
- Keep extra straw on hand so you can change out any wet straw in the tub for fresh. A good rule of thumb is to check the feral cathouse after each storm to see if the blanketed interior needs dried out and prepared for the next resident.
- Be creative with your choice of container. A spare pet carrier, an insulated ice chest, an old dog house you found at a garage sale or even an empty appliance box wrapped in a plastic tarp is better shelter for a feral cat than no shelter at all.
- The feral cathouse may appeal to more than just stray cats. Whenever you decide to change the straw, tap the side of the container to warn whatever creature that may have crawled inside that you are visiting. Not only is knocking good manners, the visitors may decide to leave instead of startling you.