by Rob English
So you’re looking for a quick, smart project that will bring smiles to your loved ones all year and help keep your home and neighborhood free of mice and other vermin? Sure! Consider building a winter shelter for the homeless cat near you who lives by hunting mice before the mice can get into your home and make babies!
Cats can find dangerous ways to keep from freezing on cold, winter nights, such as climbing up into the warm engine compartment of a recently parked car, but that can cause serious problems for the cat and the car if he or she is still there when the car’s owner starts the engine! The best way for a homeless cat to keep warm in the cold winter is to snuggle up inside an enclosure that is safe and small enough to retain the cat’s body heat around it.
Here’s how some people make some different enclosures:
Line the bottom of a cheap plastic box with straw and cut a hole just big enough for a cat, then place the plastic top on the box and place it in a quiet place behind a garage or in a hedge. Great!
Even better: after lining the floor of the box described above with straw and cutting the hole, place a second, smaller plastic box inside the bigger one with a hole that lines up with the outer box hole, then line the sides between the boxes with straw. Now put the top on the smaller box and cover it with straw before placing the big box top on the whole thing. That’s an awesomely insulated box!
A third way to make an enclosure is to simply cut a cat-sized hole in an old picnic cooler, placing straw inside on the floor.
A tip- instead of straw, don’t use newspaper, towels, rags, or blankets because they retain moisture and will freeze in winter and be wet in summer. Hay may cause an allergic reaction in cats. Use straw. FREE STRAW for this project will be available at Brady Markets, 307 Gifford Street., Syracuse, after December 10, 2021. Thank you to Brady Markets for providing this availability!
Note- Some cats will want a second hole that they can use to escape the box if another animal frightens it by looking in. Experiment to see what works best for your neighborhood mouse hunter.
P.S. it’s a good idea to bang on the car’s hood before starting the car so any cat or kittens in the engine compartment can run off beforehand. Please pass the word!
P.P.S. Cats use their whiskers to measure if a hole is big enough for them to pass through it. If the whiskers fit, so will the cat’s body!
P.P.P.S. Great project for social groups!
To see images go to: https://www.alleycat.org/resources/how-to-build-an-outdoor-shelter/
Rob is a member of People for Animal Rights, a grassroots organization in Central New York,
Contact People for Animal Rights
P.O. Box 3333
Syracuse, NY 13220
Black cat and 4 cats photos by Dan Galvani Sommavilla and Rene Ramon San Lorenzo from Pexels