I can has prom date? Funny cat pictures with hilarious captions! Shelter, food, and water are especially important to outdoor cats—feral and stray—in the cold of winter. Cats who live outside are vulnerable to the cold, wind, snow and ice of winter. But you can provide shelter, food and water.

Well built, insulated shelters can help outdoor cats stay warm and dry—even during a snowy Toronto winter. Got a big heart but not much time or money? As the weather gets colder, you may worry about the cats you see around your neighborhood. No matter how resourceful these outdoor cats are, they need help surviving winter. If you’ve got time to help, the kitties will thank you! Follow these tips to help your local outdoor cats during the cold months.

Yes, their thickened winter coats help feral and stray cats weather winter’s chill, but they still need warm, dry, well-insulated and appropriate-sized shelters. We’re committed to improving the lives of community cats. A shelter-building party can be a fun weekend project! Ask your friends, neighbors and coworkers to join in. Try contacting local youth groups to find out if they will help build shelters as a service project. Heated Cat Shelters on Amazon. You may find inexpensive or free materials by asking building-supply stores or contractors if they have scrap lumber.

Ask friends, neighbors and coworkers for used dog houses, which can be modified to make good shelters. A shelter must trap the cats’ body heat to warm its interior. If the shelter is too large, it will be difficult for the cats’ body heat to keep the space warm. Straw allows cats to burrow. Pillowcases loosely stuffed with packing peanuts and shredded newspaper also work. Keep things clean: Replace straw and newspaper if moist or dirty, and wash and re-stuff pillowcases as needed.

Instead, «wallpaper» the shelter’s inner walls and floor with Mylar. It reflects back body heat, and it’s okay for cats to lie on it. Forego hay, too, which may irritate noses and cause allergic reactions. If you can do so without compromising the privacy and security of the shelter, place food and water near the shelter so the cats won’t have to travel far. One way to protect food and water is to place two shelters—doorways facing each other—two feet apart. Then create a canopy between them by securing a wide board from one roof to the other.

Then put the food and water under the canopy. What you put food and water in can make a difference. A thick plastic water container that’s deep and wide is better-insulated than a thin plastic or ceramic container. A solar-heated water bowl can prevent or delay water and canned food from freezing. If shelters are well-insulated, you can put bowls of dry or moist food inside them, far from the doorway. Even if the moist food freezes, the cats’ body heat will defrost it when they hunker down in their shelter. Don’t put water bowls inside the shelter.

Water is easily spilled, and a wet shelter will feel more like a refrigerator than a warm haven. Heated Water Bowls on Amazon. To TNR or not to TNR community cats in winter? People may be concerned about performing trap-neuter-return during winter because they worry about releasing females who have had their stomachs shaved for surgery. But winter trapping has its advantages. There are far fewer pregnant cats, which makes for a less complicated surgery, and you’ll prevent the births of many kittens come spring, when the majority are born. Before you start winter trapping, however, you must ensure that the cats will have adequate shelter when you return them to their territory. If you’ve followed the directions above, they’ll be in good shape. Please enter a valid mobile number. Thank you for signing up for text alerts! You will receive text messages with ways to help animals right from your phone. Contributions to The HSUS are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. The HSUS’s tax identification number is 53-0225390.