Those who volunteer to care for such cats by giving them food and water, also have found ways to provide outside shelter that offers protection from the elements.
“You can make a stray cat shelter by doing something as simple as taking a large plastic Rubbermaid tub, turn it upside down, cut a hole in the side, and fill it with straw,” said Jill Borkowski, marketing director of Humane Ohio, a non-profit organization that offers low cost spay and neuter service for cats.
“The hole shouldn’t be too big, or other animals will be able to fit in,” she said.
Other possibilities include using a strong box or crate and insulating it with waterproof material thick enough to keep out the wind and cold, she added.
“Igloo style dog houses – available at many pet supply stores – also make excellent stray cat shelters,” said Borkowski.
A large shelter can provide a safe haven for more than one cat, she said.
Blankets and towels retain moisture, so bedding should be made from hardwood, hay, or synthetic material. The shelter should be placed on a wooden pallet or bricks to raise it off the ground and prevent rotting.
If you decide to care for a stray or feral cat, make sure you first get the cat spayed or neutered, or you’re likely to soon find yourself with several kittens very quickly.
“One female cat can produce up to three litters a year. Cats can get pregnant as young as five or six months old and go on to have their own litters. You can see how the stray cat problem could grow very quickly,” said Borkowski.
“Six to eight million cats and dogs are euthanized in animal shelters nationwide every year because pet overpopulation is a very real problem and there are simply not enough homes. And these numbers don’t even account for the number of stray cats living on the streets,” she said.
Humane Ohio offers free spay and neuter services for stray and feral cats in Toledo. Appointments can be scheduled by calling 419-266-5607. Free transports are also available at the East Toledo Family Center this month by appointment with Humane Ohio.