In this freezing weather our community cats – the stray and feral cats that live outside – are struggling.
We know a lot of our followers would love to know more about how to help these cats, especially through the winter.
The first thing to do of course is to speak to us, as we may be able to help. However sadly Henry’s Haven can’t always be there to help. This is because financial and space constraints mean we can’t take every cat. We will always prioritise cats living outside, especially if they are sick or injured, but we can’t help as much as we would like to. We know that even if we can’t help, these cats need support. And there is so much that you can do. So here’s our guide on what YOU can do to support the community cats in your area.
Spay and Neuter:
If you are feeding a community cat, the single most important thing you can do is to spay or neuter that cat. This will help prevent any more kittens being born outside, and will reduce the chance of injury and disease.
To get help neutering a community cat, contact your local vet, or the Cat’s Protection League.
Feeding is not enough – spay and neuter is essential.
This will help keep cats healthy, and also helps to build trust in humans. You can feed any wet or dry food. Try feeding community cats on a regular schedule as this will make it easier build trust, and to trap them.
This is especially important during the winter months, but helps all year round. If you have a shed, consider fitting a cat flap and popping a cozy bed in there.
You can also build a basic shelter out of cheap materials. Here’s a video from Buzzfeed showing how to build an easy shelter from cheap or recycled materials.
Make sure to check the shelter every day, and remember to be careful – it’s possible that a wild animal or feral cat could take shelter.
To get a cat to the vet or to a rescue, you will first need to catch her! You might find that your community cat isn’t too keen on getting into a carrier. Here’s how to catch a cat with minimal stress – to you and the cat.
- Feeding your community cat on a regular schedule and building trust will help.
- Bring a carrier outside and place it close to where you usually feed the cat. Every day, bring the food bowl closer to the carrier.
- Eventually, you can place the food just at the entrance to the carrier, then a bit further in, and then right at the back.
- Once the cat is eating the food inside the carrier, close the door behind them.
- Cover the carrier with a blanket or towel. This will help keep the cat calm.
- Take the cat to the vet or rescue as soon as possible.
If you are going to keep the cat in your home for any length of time, make sure she is kept in a room away from your own pets. You should also make sure that your own pets are up to date on vaccinations and flea and worm treatment.
Some cats can’t be caught in this way, and will need to be caught using a baited trap. Contact us if you think this might be the case, as we may be able to help. Never try to force a cat into a carrier.
If you see kittens on their own outside, remember that this means there will be a mother cat around somewhere! Mum won’t stay with their kittens all the time, as she needs to go out and find food for herself.
It’s really important that kittens stay with their Mum if at all possible. Keep an eye on the kittens, without touching them or moving them. If you don’t see the Mum for a couple of days, or if the kittens are looking sick or injured, then you can catch the kittens and take them to the vet or to a rescue.
If Mum is around, you should try and catch her and the kittens together, using the trapping tips above, or contact us for advice and support.
- Wear suitable clothing. Long sleeves and sturdy gloves are really useful. If you are bitten you should always see your GP as cat bites can get infected very quickly.
- Remember that your community cat might have fleas and worms, and that these can affect you and your family too. Giving your community cat flea and worm treatments will help minimise the risk.
- Involving your children in caring for community cats is a great family activity. It helps kids learn empathy and gentleness as well as learning to care for animals. Children should always be supervised, and should never try to catch a community cat on their own.
- Never place yourself in a dangerous situation or trespass on private property in order to catch a community cat. If a cat is in danger and you cannot reach them without placing yourself at risk, call the RSPCA. The police non emergency line may also be able to advise