We usually talk about catification for indoor cats however I was impressed by how resourceful Janet S. was in putting together this practical and efficient shelter for the feral cats who inhabit her, and partner Amy C’s property in Texas. Amy and Janet have a friend Tricia who is renting a guest cottage on their land and began feeding a cat family. Amy had liked cats as a kid but doesn’t currently have any due to extended travel and dogs who aren’t interested in sharing her so of course she was sympathetic to their situation!
Like me, Amy didn’t know anything about feral cats, TNR or colonies until they were suddenly in her backyard. Once I knew about ferals and started looking they were everywhere and it sounds like it has gone the same for her and Janet. Amy called on resources to learn about feral cats or community cats as the wild ones are sometimes called, in Colorado from Laurel Montgomery at Foothills Animal Shelter (Golden) and Texas at Panther City Feral Cat Coalition (Ft. Worth Ferals). Given that feral or community cats are nocturnal-ish and frequently terrified of humans and dogs it’s not surprising that we don’t see them unless we’re looking. Feral cats are literally everywhere but unless your eyes are open you may never know about them which would be a shame because they are truly fascinating!
So Amy and Janet made the commitment to feed, care for and most importantly use Trap-Neuter-Return services to spay and neuter their furry residents! It doesn’t take much to help feral cats and when using TNR practices feeding them does NOT create problems it solves them. Spayed and neutered cats can live with simple shelters, food and occasional medical care for the entire lives. They pay you back tenfold with their antics and by keeping mouse/snake populations in check.
Creating shelters need not be complicated or expensive. Janet was able to build this shelter, complete with carpeted scratching corners, out of materials on hand and bits out of the reduced bits wood bins at Home Depot. Those reduced bins are treasure chests of little wood scraps that are really perfect for small projects. The house is fully insulated, has a nice sloping roof and a carpeted ledge indoors for sleeping off the floor. It looks like there is room for 2 entrance/exits which is good for quick escapes if needed. The house is brilliant and easy. I know the cats will welcome it in this cold weather!
Amy says, “I hope to continue to TNR cats in my neighborhood and if any seem able to be placed and are not truly feral, I would be happy to network for that outcome. This is actually my first foray into ferals! I love cats, always had them as a child, and I didn’t know how cat colonies worked and how they can be a good thing. My friend who works for the shelter (Foothills Animal) continues to be an amazing resource for information, and the volunteers from Panther City were amazing and so helpful. I have given their contact information to others who have feral cats visiting them.”
That last sentence is critical to the success and well-being of community cats – educating others after we’ve educated ourselves is so important. There are many myths about feral cats that can be literally fatal to their survival and we have a responsibility to help dispel those myths and advocate for Trap-Neuter-Return as the most humane method of colony management that we have available to us at this time.
So here’s a giant THANK YOU to Amy and Janet, their tenant who fed the hungry cat family and to all those fabulous cat colony caretakers out there right now!
If you’d like more information please see the links above and you can also visit Alley Cat Allies for another incredible source of information on caring for cats outdoors.