With the arctic blast we're all feeling, we've had several calls about what people can do to help their neighborhood cats through the winter. It doesn't have to be expensive to provide safety and shelter to outdoor cats.
Food: Keep dry food protected from moisture. This could mean putting it in a sheltered place, or elevating it above the level of the snow. Keep in mind that wet/canned food will freeze just like water, so keeping dry food out in the winter is the best option.
Water: Water freezes, but there are good solutions including electric or solar heated bowls. Find a great in-depth article about good water solutions from NeighborhoodCats.Org here: http://www.neighborhoodcats.org/how-to-tnr/colony-care/stop-freezing-water
Shelter: Shelter is the biggest concern for outdoor cats. These cats, the ones that have been outside for more than one winter, acclimate to the low temperatures and put on extra padding for the winter just like any other outdoor mammal, however sometimes that just isn't enough. You can give them a boost by constructing a simple and affordable shelter. Alley Cat Advocates has put together a great step-by-step shelter tutorial that would be a fun weekend project. It's simple enough that even your kids can help you! Get the PDF download here: http://alleycatadvocates.org/assets/ACA-winter-shelter.pdf
Medical Care: If you see a sick or injured cat that needs medical care, you can either take the cat to the vet on your own, knowing that it will be at your expense, or you can contact your local animal services agency and find out what they can provide for sick or injured stray animals.
In Kalamazoo County, Kalamazoo County Animal Services & Enforcement can pick up the cat, or you can bring it to the shelter at 2500 Lake St. The cat will not be returned to the colony, but it also won't be suffering. Friendly stray cats that can be treated can be pl aced for adoption, however feral cats will likely be euthanized.
The most important thing you can do for a neighborhood with a stray cat problem is SPAY and NEUTER! By eliminating the possibility of future litters of kittens, you can manage the cats that are already there without having them destroyed.
The Kalamazoo Humane Society offers affordable spay/neuter help for feral cats. Call us for more information at 269-345-1181.