The winters up here in Northern NY can be brutal. It's normal for temperatures to remain below zero for days, if not weeks, at a time. Add to that wind chill factors, and the cold can kill very quickly. In an effort to help those cats who are either feral, or have otherwise found themselves outside during the winter months, we have started the Community Cats Project. Since 2017 we've been purchasing supplies for, and assembling, cat shelters. To date we've made 140 shelters and distributed them in Lewis and Jefferson NY Counties, and beyond.
That being said, we realize that healthier cats will produce more kittens, which is the last thing we need. Along with every shelter, we provide information on local resources for low-cost spays and neuters, and explain to the recipient that spaying and neutering is THE ONLY way to help end the suffering of these poor cats. When we are able, we help cover the cost of the surgeries, and help with trapping and transportation if needed.
We ask for a $20 donation per shelter, just to cover the cost of materials. We could build them cheaper, but they would not provide enough protection for our winters. Can't afford the donation? It's okay, we just want the kitties cared for. We also sometimes have shelters that have been sponsored by caring donors. ****We do hope you will plan to save up money to get the cat spayed or neutered! ****
We currently have volunteer distributors in the Carthage, Lowville, and Watertown areas.
It is very important to use STRAW and not hay inside the shelters. Straw is a much better insulator, whereas hay absorbs moisture and can make the cats colder. Need some more ideas? Click here to see Alley Cat Allies shelter options page!
Feeding stations are very important to those outdoor cats your caring for. It's a total myth that all cats can hunt and take care of themselves. Here are some ideas on easy feeding stations you can put together with items you already have. Whatever you do, don't start feeding them, and then stop midwinter. If you need help with food, let us know!
It is vital you put fresh water out when feeding the cats. In both the heat of the summer, and in the freezing winter, cats can have an impossible time finding water. Water is as important as the food you're putting out for them! If you're feeding station is near power, you can buy a heated water bowl. If not, you can get a Snugglesafe to heat up and put under the water bowl. If you are unable to do either of those things, just putting out as hot water as you can, so it takes longer to freeze!
Feral cats are cats who have become wild. They were either born to a feral mother, or some house cats can become feral given time and circumstances. Feral cats will almost never be able to be domesticated. They will, however, learn to trust you, and will wait for their daily meals. If somehow, you corner a feral cat, don't ever try to pick it up! You can get scratched or bitten very badly. That's why we use humane traps to get feral cats to their spay and neuter appointments, or if they are injured and need to see a vet. The absolute kindest thing you can do for your neighborhood feral cats, is to get them spayed and neutered. We have traps you can borrow, and can walk you through the process....it's not hard! The biggest thing to remember about trapping a feral cat, is you have to have a plan already in place. You must have a spay or neuter appointment already set up BEFORE you trap them!! This is very, very important!! Once they're in the trap, they stay there until their appointment, so you must have things set up ahead of time. DON'T EVER TRY TO MOVE A FERAL CAT FROM A TRAP TO A CARRIER! You also must be very mindful of the weather....cats can freeze to death, or die of heatstroke if the trap is not checked regularly and moved to a sheltered location once the cat is in the trap.