What You Can Do to Help Cats in Cold Weather

Becky Robinson, founder and president of Alley Cat Allies, gives advice on how to keep community cats warm and safe during cold weather.

By Becky Robinson | Posted: January 25, 2016, 7 a.m. PST

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Q: I’m taking care of a colony of outdoor cats and I’m worried about keeping them warm now that it’s getting colder. How can I make sure they’re safe this winter?

A: First of all, don’t worry! Cats are completely at home outside, and they’ve lived in all kinds of climates for centuries. But it’s always a good thing to give them some extra help to keep warm in the winter! Alley Cat Allies’ Winter Weather Tips provide detailed information on how to keep your colony safe and healthy when the chill rolls in.

  • Sturdy, warm winter shelters keep cats comfortable and safe. Build or buy shelters that can house multiple cats (they huddle together for warmth!) and insulate them with straw to keep out moisture. Learn how to build your own shelter or find available ones on our website.
  • Keeping food and water from freezing in low temperatures can be tricky, but there are steps you can take to make sure your cats are eating enough — and aren’t eating ice. Build a feeding station with a roof and sides to keep out the cold out and warm wet food up before arriving on location, or just feed dry food if you’re sure wet food will freeze. Make sure to feed cats more than usual in the winter: the extra calories will help them keep warm! 
  • To keep water liquid, use deep bowls and refill them twice daily with hot or warm water. You can also insulate bowls or buy heated electric bowls and other warming products.
  • Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is an important part of colony care, but when conducting TNR in the winter, ensure that cats aren’t exposed to extreme weather. Keep trapped cats in temperature-controlled areas, and use your best judgment to decide whether it’s too cold to trap.

Make sure your winter is a safe and happy one for you and your cats! Read Alley Cat Allies’ Winter Weather Tips for more detailed steps and guidance. If you have any other winter weather community cat tips, comment below and share them.
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