Caring for a feral cat colony: Beating the heat

Caring for a feral cat colony: Beating the heat
Nikki the cat is part of a colony cared for by Catvando. Photo Courtesy of Catvando.

Many cat owners give little thought to the hot and humid days of summer since more of our friendly felines have taken up residence indoors. However, if you’re caring for a feral cat colony, the dog days of summer are a good time to make a few changes in how you care for your colony.

“Cats are well-adapted to living outdoors,” says Becky Robinson, president and founder of Alley Cat Allies. “But when temperatures rise, outdoor cats can use a helping hand. There are a few things people can do to keep cats well-hydrated and cool on hot summer days.”

Here are some of her tips for caring for a feral cat colony during the heat of the summer –

  • Robbie and Suzie were trapped in Englewood by Chicago TNR. Photo Courtesy of Chicago TNR.

    Robbie and Suzie were trapped in Englewood by Chicago TNR. Photo Courtesy of Chicago TNR.

    Feed your colony dry food in the summer. It attracts fewer insects than wet food. If you do feed wet food, pick up uneaten food after 45 minutes (most bugs appear at about 30 minutes).

  • Ant-proof outdoor feeding areas – Invest in ant-proof bowls that have moats of water or other deterrents to keep ants out of the food. A barrier of chemical additive free, food-grade diatomaceous earth - available of some natural food stores and pet supply companies - is another options. Check out some other options online.
  • Keep cats hydrated – Add more water bowls to your feeding area and place the water bowls in the shade so they don’t evaporate as quickly. Use deep bowls as well to make sure there is enough water.
  • Make shelter accessible – Cats have a way to find shelter from the heat. For your feral cat colony, make sure some of their favorite areas – under the deck, shelters, etc. – are easy for them to access. You can also make an inexpensive shelter for your colony.

    Kittens and friendly strays caught in TNR programs often go to foster homes while waiting for adoption. Photo courtesy of Feral Fixers.

    Kittens and friendly strays caught in TNR programs often go to foster homes while waiting for adoption. Photo courtesy of Feral Fixers.

  • Keep a close eye on traps – If you are running a trap-neuter-return (TNR) program, be extra careful in the heat of the summer. Cats can get heatstroke if in they stay in the traps too long. Once they’ve been trapped, keep them in the shade or move them to a cool area.
  • Watch the placement of traps – Do not place metal traps anyplace where they will absorb the sun’s heat – cat’s paws can burn.
  • Make sure all community or feral cats have been spayed or neutered – If you’re feeding community cats and haven’t done TNR, contact a local group so that you can prevent more litters from being born.

Learn more about the work of Alley Cat Allies online. In Chicago, reach out to Tree House Humane Society, Hyde Park Cats or Chicago TNR to name a few. In the suburbs, the Feral Feline Project, Spay and Stay, Catvando, Feral Fixers and Triple R Pets.

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    I'm an animal lover who has counted rescue pets as a member of my family since I was a child. As a writer and public relations specialist, I'm passionate about advocating for homeless pets and the rescues that give these pets a second chance. i also love to connect with the many pet businesses in Chicago that support animal rescue.

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