Winter Care of Feral Cat Colonies

Jackson took some time to interview Jenny Schlueter, Director of Development and Feral Friends TNR Program Manager for Tree House Humane Society in Chicago.

She’s got awesome tips and support for caretakers of feral cat colonies as we head into the winter months.

How to help them survive the harsh weather, how to talk with your neighbors, how they are an asset to communities, and more.

  1. Bracey   October 22, 2012 at 10:00 pm  

    Recently did research about houses & saw something similar so thanks for this info to help keep them warm. I have 7 Feral cats. All friendly. Live on a corner where there is regular traffic. For safety I want to build a fenced in area for cats to live in. They all come from MommaCat. Her kids are Satin, Black&White, Slither, LittleBlack. Her grandkids are WhyteGurl & Puffy (Black&White’s kittens). Are there ANY Resources to assist as I don’t have a regular income to do this? Currently putting kittens in shed late at night to keep them from wandering into the street. They don’t like it. Any assistance & direction U can provide will be great. Also working to get funding for spay & neutering. ThankU.

    1. TeshiaF   February 27, 2013 at 1:49 pm  

      I have two feral cats, both fixed that I have been taking care of for many years. I can pet both of them and sometimes they even come inside but if the door closes they freak out. I have been working with them for a long time to gain trust and I have even moved with them and they have stayed around. I got news this month that the house I am renting was sold at an auction and we have 60 days to move. I have found a place in a more rural area so I have been working with the two cats to try to make them indoor cats by keeping them inside at night and leaving the door open for them when I am here. The older female cat is doing great but the younger male keeps peeing on everything including my bed and couches. I want him to be an indoor cat especially in the new area I have to move. Any suggestions on how I can get him to stop peeing on everything? Any advice would be excellent!

      1. Aaron C. Hanson   January 5, 2016 at 2:17 pm  

        This is in part an answer to the question of spraying. For most, this behavior subsides with territorial establishment and that will simply take time. Enzymes can found within most pet-stores to completely remove the odor from any and all surfaces. There should be no reason to confuse the animal with discouragement once the behavior is understood. With understanding an effective means of mitigation can be easily employed without stressing the animal within a less than natural environment.

    2. Jamie Russ   March 30, 2013 at 8:23 pm  

      Hi, I too care for a colony of feral cats. I moved here to Cape Coral, FL from Chicago with my 13 yr old Australian Shepherd, Sophie and 5 year old orange tabby in 2007. A female, who I call Mamma, seemed to have a regular residence here when we first located here and I firmly think she may have been left behind at one time. I was able to get one of her babies spayed but I have rescued several of her descendants. After Baby, she had three more kittens, Comet, Star and Silver. One day Silver crawled under the hood of my car and I accidentally broke her leg when I started the engine. She healed and eventually her and her sister, Star, each had a litter of kittens. Silver had 5 kittens. After 5 days she disappeared and I rescued her babies. Three survived. I bottley fed them and after a week or two a co-worker and her husband helped me with them during the day. We jokingly called it Stan’s Kitty Daycare. Over the next year I took in 7 kittens from the same colony and Stan and Colleen eventually took in 3 of them. To date I currently have 8 cats, the youngest 10 months old, all related to the same colony plus my old man, Oliver, who is now 11 years old. After watching your show, I feel blessed that they all get along and seem to really have affection for each other. Sadly, my dog Sophie passed in May, 2011, but Oliver, Jack, Jaeger, Big Girl, Taaka, Nickel, Maggie, Caesar and Baby Bear. Thank you for all you do.

      1. Gail   March 8, 2016 at 11:59 pm  

        Please tell me that you are fixing your colony so there are no new kittens. Plenty of kittens out there that already need a home.

  2. Amy Smith   October 23, 2012 at 1:28 pm  

    I love the idea about your homemade cat houses. I bought a couple of dog houses (about the size of what you have on the video) and found some cordless pet bed warmers that can be warmed in the microwave for my 5 to 7 feral cats. I have also created a nice little “safe” area on the front porch that is blocked off with a pet gate w/ kitty door. This keep dogs out, but not cat sized animals such as possums or skunks. I’m all about animals, but not thrilled about feeding & housing possums and skunks. Both animals can can be violent toward cats, carry diseases, and I don’t like having my house sprayed by skunks! Does anyone have any ideas on how to provide a haven for the cats that does not include the less desirable animals?

    1. Allyson Stilber   November 16, 2012 at 5:22 pm  

      They make cat doors that only open when they recieve a signal that comes from a special collar worn by the cat you want to allow in. I have seen them online.

      1. Imelda Vasquez   November 17, 2012 at 1:51 pm  

        We have one of those doors in our house so that our two chihuahuas can go in and out but not the cats. Our cats are indoors only. This was working great until recently. One of our cats is very smart, he waits by the door until one fo the dogs comes to go out and he jumps out right behind the dog before it closes. Problem is that he is not supposed to be going out to he does not have a key and cannot get back in. He freaks out and runs around the house to the front door and scratches like crazy to get back in. Luckily we were home the couple of times that happened. Otherwise he may have become a coyote snack. I tried putting a cone on him when we are not home to deter him from getting out but that didn’t work. Nothing else has been working so I taped a paint stick to his collar so now he cannot get through the door even if he tries. Luckily none of our other cats have figures out how to get out…..I’m gonna have to stock up on paint sticks just in case. I welcome any idea if anyone has any on how to keep my cat from going the the doggy door! I wish I could post a picture here so you guys can see how he looks with it on lol.

        1. JCat Lady   February 19, 2013 at 9:41 am  

          The person/repairman that told me about Jackson Galaxy having a TV program “My Cat’s From Hell”, & this website, mentioned that Jackson had a certain kind of collar the “CAT(s)” can wear that would poof air at the cat if/when they approached the entrance to a room. So as I personally am checking for that item to possibly purchase myself, maybe IF you can find that item here, that this idea could help you deter your felines from following the dogs for a possible dangerous escape! Just a thought, & HOPEFULLY your answer here too! Good Luck!
          Personally I LOVE the idea I described above, for any/ALL areas we would like to teach our cats to avoid! PLEASE JACKSON GALAXY!!! If that idea truly works, you could be RICH in many ways. Happy retirement then!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    2. debb   April 17, 2015 at 1:51 am  

      our feral kittens came with a skunk, an oppossum, and a raccoon. in my experience they all have a healthy respect for each other, yet live in harmony. just saying …

  3. Imelda Vasquez   October 31, 2012 at 12:50 pm  

    I have a question. Can these “box” cat houses be placed securely in a tree somehow or elevated. We have feral cats in our neighorhood but many have been killed by coyotes already. We have been able to spay/neauter release a few and also rehabilitated and homed a few of the kittens that were born feral, which are now indoor only kittens. Our problem is keeping the ones that are still outdoors safe from the coyotes. Does anyone have any suggestions for this?

  4. Isabel   November 5, 2012 at 11:32 am  

    Hi Imelda this note might surprise you because it is from Chile. I take care of a feral cat colony near my home. My concern is the house where they have their refuge is being replaced with a building.
    In your case maybe design a sort of rolling cage with wheels with a little door; it should have enough space for 5 or 6 cats and the wheels would enable to carry it to a safe area. First, would be getting them used to the sound of the wheels which would come accompanied with food. They would gradually become used to associate wheels with food. The rolling cage is taken back a few times until they are not afraid of it any more, and then start leaving it so they can feel it as a home. Slowly start moving it towards the place you wish to install it. There is a great webside where you might find ideas or price quotations for cages. Let me know how you work it out, it might be useful for me as well. Isabel

    1. Imelda Vasquez   November 5, 2012 at 8:02 pm  

      Isabel, wow Chile! Awesome! A rolling cage is not really possible at my place because of the terrain but I will check out that website and see if we can get some ideas. Thank you so much for the info!! I’ll let you know what we figure out. Good luck with your feral kitty colony! – Imelda

  5. Audrey p   November 7, 2012 at 7:52 pm  

    I live in condo. A cat ( king) adopted me and hubby. Got King shots neutered the works. He is a beautiful cat. First month we had him he was inside only, then wanted out. Seems like the more he is out the more he wants. He is bothering neighbors cats etc. can we make King an indoor only cat or is it to late. King is about 1 yr old.

    1. Jamie   November 10, 2012 at 7:03 pm  

      Yes, you can def. train your cat and transform him into an indoor only cat, but will take both some creativity and patience on the part of you and hubby. The first step is working to make the indoor environment stimulating and capable of keeping King’s interest. That means that as his time outside is reduced and he remains indoors, he will need a consistent daily regimen that will help to structure and occupy his day. As Jackson mentions often, it is crucial to play with him to help exercise his body, work his mind and drain him of any excess or anxious energy. Possibly playtime in the AM, then leaving him with toys, paperbags filled with catnip (not to often as oversensitization will occur and the nip will have no effect) and other low-tech toys, such as empty toilet paper rolls or balled up paper, the more options the better and (hopefully) busier. Make sure he also has a few places he can lounge, possibly in the sun and also provide a scratching post that he will actively use. The best strategy at night would be to play with him for 15 or 20 mins, tire him out and then feed him, so his instinct will take over and he will then most likely sleep. The other part of the process is not to give into his demands to be let out, no matter how insistent he may be. It may take days, it may take weeks, remember he is more used to going outside than not, but eventually he will forget about his desire and realize that he will not be allowed out. This is the training part and the more occupied and engaged you can keep him with the indoor environment the more quickly the transition to complete success.

      1. Imelda Vasquez   November 17, 2012 at 2:02 pm  

        We have three cats who are ferals that we have almost transformed into indoor cats only. One of the ferals has been a feral for almost 2 years now and is slowly but surely getting more comfortable with us and our other pets. The second feral is younger, maybe about 6 months and she is pretty good with everyone now except for my two oldest original cats. The last feral is about 2-3 months and has been great with everyone from the second day. We have 2 Chihuahus (Suzy and Penny), and 8 cats including the three ferals (Lunchbox, Cupcake, Marvin, Thermos, April). The three ferals are Quodpod, Peachcakes and Cricket. The ones I have a problem accepting everyone is my two original older cats which are about 2 years old. They get along with everyone except the older ferals. They are brother and sister to my first feral. Does anyone have any idea to get the to accept each other?

        1. Amy Smith   November 20, 2012 at 6:48 am  

          There is a fabulous book out there called ‘Cat vs. Cat’ that gives great advice on getting your cats to accept each other. It has worked well for me several times.

          1. Imelda Vasquez   November 22, 2012 at 7:45 pm  

            Thank you so much for that suggestion Amy! I’m gonna look for that book ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Celia   December 23, 2012 at 2:58 pm  

    Yay! Pets are the best thing for kids. It teaches them cosmapion and responsibility. I would suggest a bengal. They are a very high energy breed. My two only stop to eat and sleep and then they are back tearing through the house and playing with the lazer pointer and paper bags. Or you could go to a local shelter and get a kitten or young cat. The people there would be able to tell you which ones are the most active. Just remember any cat you bring home will be scared the first few days and will need time to adjust before its true colors come out. Congratulations on your soon to be new pet. Your kids will be forever grateful!

  7. Brenda   December 29, 2012 at 8:40 pm  

    This past year we have been caring for two of the neighbor’s outdoor cats. They are a mother and son. Both have been fixed and properly vaccinated. During the winter they have been staying in the garage at night or if there is inclement weather. The mother is quite sociable, but I know she was an indoor cat earlier in her life. The male was born and raised outside. I feel like Tom has made a lot of progress in his socialization, but recently he has been acting aggresively from time to time. One minute he wants to nip at you and 10 minutes later he wants to curl up in your lap. I wanted a vet to look at him to rule out any possible physical issues, but he will not cooperate enough to be kenneled for the trip. Is this jealousy over the other cat, dominance issues, physical, food aggresion or does he need to be outside? I want to make this work. Any suggestions?

  8. Teena Houle   December 31, 2012 at 12:51 pm  

    My situation / my questions: My 3 cats and I lived alone for a couple of years. 6 months ago my daughter moved in with me. Her teenage son stays here on weekends/holidays. My 3 cats are terrified of him. I don’t “think” he’s ever hurt them, but he is very loud and hyperactive. The second he walks in the front door, all 3 of them run under my bed and only come out 5 to 10 minutes after I close my bedroom door. It makes the weekends horrible for them and for me. They are more stressed out now even when he isn’t here and my 10 year old has started to pee on my grandson’s bed after he leaves. She has never pee’d out of the catbox otherwise. Obviously, she doesn’t like him. If I work with my grandson to slowly and quietly approach the cats or to hold them is it too late to change this miserable situation?

    1. jaydee   February 16, 2013 at 10:35 am  

      It’s possible your cats are just afraid of the noise, if they are used to peace and quiet. My cats all hide from my noisy 4 year old granddaughter. They have actually been hiding from her since she was a baby, I have no idea why. From the first time they got a sniff of her, it’s been “Oh hell no” for them. But if there is more going on than just noise, you need to know. I suggest you get a nanny cam and find out what’s happening while you are gone. It might shed some light on the cats’ behavior. Also, there’s nothing wrong with creating a safe haven for the cats for the times when your grandson is there, a place that he doesn’t go into. We are fortunate that we have a large enough room to put a litter box and also food & water for our cats, so when company comes and they don’t want to interact, they can hide out where no one will bother them. They are comfortable there, and they have food & water and a litter box, so they aren’t forced to come out into a frightening environment just to eat or use a litter box.

      1. lenoreosorio   January 30, 2014 at 9:34 pm  

        I have the same problem I too have a son that my cats are terrified of they run under the bed wen he comes home an my cat mimi will not poop in the litter box if he is home he wll go on the ferrets wee wee pad my son is adha an very intense an loves to tease the cats ,this could be a problem too maybe wen yr not around ur grandson is teasing them too, but I do know he is hyper an it makes my cats nervouse too,,

  9. Tina   January 10, 2013 at 11:03 am  

    I helped someone out by making them cat houses out of styrofoam coolers.
    you can get them at fish stores but also other places but call in advance as they are not the easiest to find anymore. make sure they are at least 24″ long by 13-14″ wide and 11/2″ thick.
    Search you tube for the videos on making feral cat houses out of styrofoam.
    add some straw- very insulating for the winter months

  10. mikeinnyc   January 19, 2013 at 5:57 pm  

    I did the same thing you did. I have 5 Feral left. Sadly, 5 were poisoned last year by haters. My backyard became an oasis for ferals after I feed them daily but didn’t house them yet. It all started when it snowed and I saw a cat frozen and buried in the snow. I picked up the feral and shoved him in my cage. Needless to say he was not happy but he warmed up for 3 days of minus zero temps in my basement and he was able to walk again. Ever since then I can’t do a blind eye.

    I made a larger box with 2″ pink board insulation. Taped the corners sealed tight. Drill some bleeder holes on the bottom. And I went one step further by purchasing a cat heater pads from foster and smith. I elevated the homes by 6″.
    Finally, I covered the box with a tarp so that the cats can get inside but the winds stays out of the big hole.
    I tried flaps, doors, and other contractions but the giant hole works fine for these cats.
    Some cats new to the colony will eventually go inside when the temps drops fast. No animal should freeze to death… heat should be included also. At least they will have a fighting chance but only above freezing temps. Below freezing temps for prolonged periods you need heating pad (safe and cheap) or light bulb (dangerous). Use ebay and bid cheap.

    I commend what your doing. PS I have 5 cats in my house too… guess where they came from?
    Yeap! One of them JG can’t even fix… pure evil.
    Mike In Staten Island

    1. lenoreosorio   January 30, 2014 at 10:08 pm  

      hello, need some advice , I live in an apartment complex an a lot of people leave or get evicted an dump there cats ,, very heartbreaking , so about 6 months ago I saw this calico beautiful cat crying an very thin so I ran upstairs an got food ,I do have indoor cats ,anyway I feed her an sat with her ,she came back everynite ,,then bout 2 weeks later 2 other cats showed up ,found out it was her brothers so I feed , I had gotten a letter from the office were I live to stop feeding on the property or they would take me to court yo evicte me , so I now feed down the courner , but as it gets colder an snow is here I feel so bd cant put up housing because I will get evicted so one nite I came home pulled into my spot an the 3 cats jumped into my car ,an its everynite that is were they sleep I put blankets in there for them an dry food I also feed them wet too but my question is is this ok I don’t wnt them to freeze in the car ,I have to leave window half down or else they go crazy, but atleast I can sleep knowing there not wet or as cold ,they had iceecles on there fur one nite , so its been a week an they jump into the car to sleep an cuddle up with each other do you think this is not safe?? I love these guys so much they sit on my lap they purr like crazy when I pet them ,I have never seen feral cats like this so loveable ,so any advice on what else I can do in the car to keep them warm please let me know I also go down 2 times a nite to check on them an in the morning there gone but always are back when I pull in after work ,,,,,thankyou for listening to my sad story ,, I just want them to be dry an warm ,please any advice would be great!

      1. arina   December 8, 2014 at 4:55 pm  

        OMG.. i have the same problem except the feral cat I’m feeding and trying to care for is very sick. I have been feeding it for a while now and it trusts me enough to follow me for food. I live in an apt complex also and there are several other ferals around. I cannot take care of so many but I really fell in love with this sick one. I know he’s very sick by his looks and it’s going to be raining VERY hard in the next few days. I want to build a little house for him to stay out of the rain. I need help also. My neighbors been complaining that I feed the cats but my heart breaks just seeing the sick feral around. He even lies in the middle of the driveway and could easily be ran over by cars. He seems like he is not afraid of being run over because he would not even move away. I had to honk REAL loud on several occasion when I saw a car almost running him over. NOw, I need advise. I need to trap him and send him to Humane society because he is very sick. I don’t know what else I can do to help except to do the right thing. I myself have a cat at home already and I cannot bring another one in. Any thoughts?

  11. Kathy   January 23, 2013 at 2:52 pm  

    Can anyone give me some tips on how to keep a feral cat from panicing when brought into the house and closing the door. About 6 months ago I started feeding a feral kitten. Very gradually she let me play with her and pet her. At 6 months old I had her spayed and had all her shots. She will now come into the house for short periods of time but has to see the door to the outside is left open. If I try to close it she goes wild. Its too cold outside to leave the door open so as of now shes sleeping outside with a heated pad. Any tips would be appreciated. Kathy in N.J.

    1. mikeinnyc   January 24, 2013 at 4:44 am  

      make sure you provide a plastic box with insulation (pink boards) inside the box. Raise it above the cold floor 6″ and protect its top from freezing rain which cracks the lid. (Tarpcover) Then put the heated pad on top of straw/blankets (they won’t get wet my way)

      I once let some feral loose in my basement. It was like a Pin Ball machine. They will slam into WINDOWS trying to get out. Now, if you must capture them and bring them inside, you MUST cage them at first. They will hurt themselves if let loose to run around. If you can Cage them, COVER them so its dark. After a few minutes they will become Almost docile animals.

      I can’t believe you are able to pet this one. She must trust you.. also hope that this one can be Domesticated. All mine won’t come in petting distance……close but no cigar.

      Hope this helps.

      Mike in STaten ISLAND -2F wind chill (PS my outdoor cats are fine!)

      1. Kasha   February 11, 2014 at 11:38 pm  

        Have you watched Jackson’s “How to tell your cat I love you” video? We’ve been using that technique for years. The only difference is with feral cats you don’t look them in the eyes, instead you avoid eye contact and ignore them unless you’re positioned on their level where they aren’t intimidated by you. Talk to the cat a lot & make brief eye contact, but don’t focus your attention on them. We have 7 cats, 6 initially wild and taught to be afraid of humans. All but 2 are tame enough to go to the vet when necessary. The oldest 2 are still part wild.

        For the kitten.. we’ve had that issue too. Finally I just shut the door. She ran into it and then I established trust by calming her down & letting her out. Now she refuses to go outside. ๐Ÿ™‚

    2. Uncommonsensesc   February 11, 2013 at 1:11 pm  

      We’ve been bringing in some feral kittens (3 so far and I think that’s all there is right now) and have that same problem. One was so sick that she didn’t put up any fight (and only weighed 1.25 pounds). The second one we kept in a carrier then the bathroom to get him used to us – he decided the petting was pretty nice and a nice family adopted him. We just got the 3rd one inside and she’s doing very well. But I was petting her when I fed the rest of the family outside. They all get petted if they eat while I’m out there. She likes the petting but no holding yet. Hopefully in a month or so, we can get her spayed, get her shots and find someone to adopt her. We started out bribing this latest one with food and toys further inside the door until her curiousity got the best of her and she started wandering around the house. I’m glad she came in pretty quickly – I know what you mean about it being cold and not being able to leave the door open. Good luck…

  12. Jennypants   February 14, 2013 at 2:18 pm  

    Hello All,
    I’ve searched the Internet, called vets and asked everyone I know if they can help me; but so far no one can.
    For the last 2 1/2 years my neighbor cared for an outdoor cat, Butch. In December he moved to another state and found a family to take the cat. I don’t know what happened, but they never came to get him. I agreed to feed and make sure his little house had fresh straw.
    Butch wandered the neighborhood and it wasn’t uncommon to go a week without seeing him. When he did show up, he’d come in the house for a little while, have a snack and then nicely meow to go back out. I’ve always been happy with the arrangement since I’m allergic to cats.

    Last Saturday, Butch was waiting outside my door and wanted to come in. As I was giving him a good rub I felt two of my fingers hit something warm and wet. Flipped the cat over thinking I stuck my fingers in poop or something- nope! I stuck my fingers into a huge gaping wound on the cats chest.
    I’m now the lucky owner of a Ragdoll, a size able vet bill and a bucket of allergy meds.
    Butch is a great cat, he really is. We’re just having one problem. The vet doesn’t want him outside until he’s completely healed. First two days were pretty okay. But now…he literally screams all day and night. He follows me around screaming. He even tries to get in the shower with me. He’s so loud I can hear him through earplugs. At work, I can hear him yowling and screaming in my head. I got the feliway pheromone diffuser but it’s not working.
    The only time butch isnt yelling is when I’m sitting on the couch rubbing him

    1. Jennypants   February 14, 2013 at 2:27 pm  

      Whoops! Hit “post comment” by mistake.
      I can’t sit on the couch rubbing him all day. He’s smart and won’t take his antibiotics or Benadryl in pill pockets. I’ve crushed them and mixed with his food- I swear he must smell the meds in his food.
      I understand the poor guy must feel like he’s a prisoner, but it’s doctors orders.
      If anyone can offer advice, I will be eternally appreciative. Im going crazy and I can’t take much more of this.
      He really should be an indoor cat, he’s almost lost his ears several times because he gets in fights.

      Thank you for reading my post.

      1. jaydee   February 16, 2013 at 11:03 am  

        I iwsh I could help you Jenny. I have a cat who is a constant talker and a lap cat, so I can commiserate with you on that part. My Boo will follow me everywhere, mau mau mau, until I sit down and let her have some lap time. Fortunately, she’s usually satisfied with an hour of lap time and I can go about my business. The only thing I can suggest is lots of love and reassurance for Butch, and don’t respond in a negative way to the yelling. Eventually he should taper off when the vocalizing fails to produce results. Sounds like you have a lot of compassion, so keep the compassion flowing and have faith. Maybe your vet knows of someone who could foster Butch while he mends. As for his meds, if there is a special treat that he really loves, I suggest having that treat handy and after you pop a pill down his throat, immediately offer the treat. I have found that this works pretty well with my cats. They don’t ever like medicines but they are more manageable if they anticipate an immediate reward. Best of luck to you, hopefully Butch can learn to be an indoor cat.

      2. Dave L   December 22, 2013 at 6:53 pm  

        You didn’t say if he had been neutured. His desire to roam is related to his need for sex. If he smells a female nearby, even though hies in the house, he will caterwall for 24 hours. Get him fixed and yu will have a better animal.

    2. mikeinnyc   February 15, 2013 at 12:27 pm  

      Here are Three facts:
      1) “For the last 2 1/2 years my neighbor cared for an outdoor cat, Butch”
      2) “The vet doesnโ€™t want him outside until heโ€™s completely healed.”
      3) “He really should be an indoor cat, heโ€™s almost lost his ears several times because he gets in fights.”

      I think you know the answer (see number 3). This is a catch 22 situation that eventually will become a WIN WIN situation. (See number 3).

      I have 5 cats now 3 from the outside. Yes they Meow like MAD but once you have them FIXED it takes about 2 weeks and it stops cold turkey. They will always try to run out the door until after about 1 year inside.. that’s my experience.

      The last choice is you can close your eyes and just open the door and what ever happens …. happens. I took that route once until I saw a frozen buried cat in the snow that I saved. PS not all people like cats. Some sickos poison cats with rat poison, or they get hit by a car.

      In my opinion, I choose number 3. You saved him now let him save you. ๐Ÿ™‚
      Hope this helps.


  13. Jennypants   February 19, 2013 at 6:15 pm  

    Thank you so much jaydee and mikeinnyc!
    The last few days have been a real test. We nearly gave in and put him outside several times out of desperation. If it wasn’t so frigid here in Michigan and his chest hadn’t been shaved, we very well may have. I actually broke down crying in Petsmart because I couldn’t take it anymore and they couldn’t help me. I don’t know if Butch has gotten hoarse from the yowling and screaming or he’s decided he likes us enough to stay. He’s still excessively vocal, but it’s not constant and he seems fine with screaming at me occasionally from the couch.
    I’ve made sure that he always has food, water, clean litter and at lots of playtime. He actually let me pick him up and went limp in my arms today. I wish I understood why he’s so attached to me though. I’m the only one he follows around and always wants to lay on me.
    He’s going to be neutered on Friday and hopefully he will become more calm after that.

    Thank you everyone for helping me, even if you read my desperate post but didn’t know what to say, I am grateful and appreciate you. This whole community is wonderful!
    Now, on to webmd to find the perfect allergy med ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. mikeinnyc   February 22, 2013 at 11:44 am  

      Don’t forget TNR get that left ear clipped. TNR should be dirt cheap for neutered. Don’t be afraid to find a new vet and ask how much? In some cases it’s free or lower cost than regular vet. Tell them TNR Trap Neuter release.

      Meow and good luck after Neutering. Your cat now will get fat and happy and the meowing will stop dead.

      1. kristen   April 14, 2013 at 6:18 pm  

        Oh..neat that means two of my feral kittens are fixed yeah! one male the other female and one of their ears got tipped.
        I also recall see an add with a pix of a cat with tipped ear.At first I thought that was mean to tip off their ear at tip of their ear because when the kitten had it I saw dried blood.

  14. Ernie Christmas   February 23, 2013 at 3:41 pm  

    I work at a large diagnostics lab in Victoria, British Columbia, and although our winters are quite mild, it can still get below freezing. The lab frequently receives shipments packed in large, robust styrofoam containers which are then discarded or recycled. I salvage these containers and quickly and easily turn them into very cozy cold weather shelters for ferals in a matter of minutes. I donate these to local cat rescue groups. The containers are about 20″ x 20″ x 20″ and about 2″ thick. I tape the lid on with packing tape, cut a 6″ hole in front and a smaller hole in the back, for emergency exits, then pack with a little hay or straw, and there you have an instant shelter good for 2 or 3 friendly cats. Or, you can remove the tops from 2 of them, then glue the two open ends together then reinforce with packing tape and you have a shelter that will hold up to 7 cats, as one rescue group volunteer witnessed.
    I staple a piece of rigid plastic over the top of the rear exit to keep wind and rain out but allows a cat to exit quickly if another animal tries to enter. Several of these can be grouped together on a pallet and covered with a camouflage tarp or piece of plywood weighted down with a few rocks or bricks. Remember this is styrofoam and can be blown easily. They are best used under cover – underneath a building or bushes. You may try asking a local lab or hospital that uses medical and lab supplies if they have styrofoam containers you could have.

  15. abby   March 4, 2013 at 9:23 am  

    My friend live-trapped a pregnant feral cat and brought her to my apartment at the end of July. She had 5 kittens here, all of whom went to good homes, and are growing up into great, affectionate cats. I still have her, ‘Palomino’ and my fixed male cat. Palomino did freak out when my friend brought her over (I didn’t know till then that cat claws can puncture Venetian blinds!), but then settled right down and seems to like being a house cat. She hides a lot, but more and more she is out and about in the apartment, looking out the window, sleeping in a chair. She’ll play with Da Bird (feathers on a fishing pole) with me, and eat while I’m sitting 6 inches from her dish. I can’t touch her. When she was nursing, if I lay down near her, I could slowly reach over and stroke her forehead. I haven’t touched her since the kittens were weaned. If I walk straight at her, she runs away. She is also getting more assertive with my cat. She used to lie limply and cry when he wrestled her, now she wrestles back. Should I just be patient or are there things I can do to help her warm up to me? I really wish I could get some Frontline on her as she scratches a lot. I haven’t taken her to the vet, as I am still hoping there will be a day when she will let me put her in the carrier and take her, as opposed to tricking her into it. So she isn’t fixed yet. Any thoughts appreciated, thank you!

    1. kristen   April 14, 2013 at 6:14 pm  

      umm try putting the carrier to the place she normally goes to and leave the door of the carrier open and put a towel or cloth in it and make it look cozy with some toys and treats.

  16. Dee   April 10, 2013 at 3:44 pm  

    I started feeding a feral cat, two years ago. The cat is now a house cat since 2012 Thanksgiving Day. The problem is the cat goes to my husband and not me. Why? She is very standoffish and if we have any kind of visiting of friends and family, she goes to hide. My husband can even brush and groom her.

  17. kristen   April 14, 2013 at 6:11 pm  

    Yeah, my family had a few cats and 6 kittens already starting 2 yrs ago. I’m thinkin of fixing them but my parents won’t be happy paying over $100.
    So the kitties that come most often are 6 kittens and 1 cat ( not their parent)
    5 male kittens and 1 female kitten .The kittens are about 13 months.
    cat unknown

    They are fed about twice a day but sadly…usually only dry-food but not in bowls.I would like to try wet-food but we can’t get bowls or plates to put on the food.

  18. AmberMac   April 19, 2013 at 11:39 am  

    I just thru watching the feral cat care video and I was amazed. I never thought of such a simple and wonderful idea for a caretaker, such as myself, to do for the ferals during harsh weather. I live in N.C., and down here in the south our winters are not as harsh as they are up north, but we still get some below freezing temps and I worry about the well being of my precious ferals. I’ve been making cat beds under my house and having to leave the door open to the basement so that they can gain entrance. This sure helped me a lot and I’ll make sure that I go and get some of these containers. I watch the “CatDaddy” on tv whenever I get a chance and I must say that I was very impressed w/ his compassion for my favorite four legged animals. You can tell that he truly cares for these wonderful creatures and it’s not just a way for him to make a living. Thank-you Mr. Galaxy for ALL that you do for cats everywhere. They don’t have a voice, they can’t tell us how they feel or what they’ve been thru before they cross our paths, but you have made us “cat lovers” proud w/ your undying love and sympathy for these babies and the “true” love you have in your heart for them. I only hope that I can make a difference in the lives of the ferals and of the rescues that I foster (or keep, mostly keep), and I look to you as a shining example of what I hope I can accomplish (even if it’s only in a small way). Thank-you again for all your tips and humanity that you give us humans and thank-you for all the love, undying support and second chances that you give cats everywhere.

  19. Selin   April 27, 2013 at 9:08 pm  

    Hi there! Can anyone offer any tips on making traveling in the car with my cat less difficult? I have a usually very mellow indoor female cat, about 3 years old. I sometimes have to take her on about a 40 minute drive from my apartment to my boyfriend’s parents house when we go out of town. I have a traveling box for her, when we take her we usually put her in there, and within 20 minutes of the drive, my cat will urinate and poop all over her box and on herself. Is there anything I can do to reduce her anxiety about traveling and prevent the peeing/pooping? If anyone has any suggestions I’d appreciate it ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks!

    1. Dave L   December 22, 2013 at 7:04 pm  

      Elevate the cat carrier enough so that the cat can see out the car windows, otherwise they will get motion sickness and become disoriented. It may be scary for them at first, seeing the world go by, but it gives them a point of reference relative to the car and carrier. Also, try going on short five or ten minutes rides a few times a week instead of subjecting the cat to a 40 minute ordeal. Encrease the travel time and you’ll acclimate kitty to the longer drive. My cat sitter’s cat rides on the dashboard of her van and will not sit on the seat or floor. She goes everywhere with the sitter.

    2. Georgette   December 27, 2015 at 10:54 am  

      How long are you away from the house? YOu can leave the cat home for 4 days or so as long as you leave enough food, water and extra litter boxes

  20. Johan v/d B   November 28, 2013 at 6:31 am  

    its been said before but not in this movie so i say it again Capture Neuter and Return.

    i have no feral cats nor intend to but i have had cats for many years.

    my old 1 now is a neuterd male born an bred in a shed an not been in contact with humans enough for the first 5,5 weeks of his life.
    (first 6 weeks of a cat life are the most important if then they are not handled every day day by human hands an filled with good memories you have a badly socialized cat)

    i have been training him for many years now to become a normal housecat right
    now (
    which cost me several times many bloody scars on my hands an arms….)
    he is 15 years of age, his eyes are filled with glaucoma, his heartbeat is irregular an his coordination is getting less an less good (bumps into furniture or falls every now an then) yet he is SO happy an enthioustic to get a candy rushes all the way through the house to get the candy so i can’t put him down yet….i am forced by his condition to keep him inside the house an the garden though…

    now after 15 years i’m exactly where i wanna be with his behavior
    he allows me to touch him every where an manages to stay calm even during combing
    an while he is allways, an allways will b the love of my life, i will never know what he could have been, if he would have been born in loving family.

    -things i what i want to make clear :
    please make sure all kittens are brought up in a loving family
    have all feral cats neuterd an spayed an if they can not continue their life in happines put them down
    – an by the way have your cats mico-chipped !
    the cat mansioned above was lost for 1,5 years dissapeard (i searched day an night for many weeks)
    after which i was called by a animal shelter because ihad the chip implanted but also registerd with my phone

  21. Kathy   November 28, 2013 at 11:34 am  

    I am dealing with neighbors who are complaining about the feral cats in the area and the local animal control officer tells me that TNR is illegal in my area. I know for a fact that it’s not written in law, but that’s how the officer interprets the ordinance concerning keeping nuisance animals. My across the street neighbor was feeding the ferals and they made her stop, so now they have no where around us to go. I want to start a feeding station in my back yard since I don’t have neighbors behind me, but one of the biggest complainers is my next door neighbor who is nosy. Can anyone give me any suggestions? I’m going to put up a no tresspassing sign, but that won’t stop my neighbor from looking over the fence.

    1. Dave L   December 22, 2013 at 7:14 pm  

      Kathy, if your neighbors know OF you at least, you can give each on of them a paper explaining your concerns and those of the cats. Assure them that you will be the caregiver, supplying the TNR needs, food, water and shelter. Assure them that the cats will have a specified feeding time, and that food will not be left out to attract other animals or more cats, if that is your desire. Most neighbors are worried that the cats will spray their homes or bushes, or poop in their flower beds, or scratch and infect their kids or other pets. Put a program together to aleveate these fears, spelled out on paper, and appeal to their hearts in terms of the little homeless ones. The cats are a problem only if we allow them to become a problem. It’s full time, so you must decide if you can devote the time and resources to their welfare and the welfare of the neighborhhod.

  22. Dave L   December 22, 2013 at 7:36 pm  

    I TNR’d a male cat this past August, and have worked with him to the point of which I feel he was a drop, and not a true feral. It took him several weeks, but he started greeting me with little meows and gave direct eye to eye contact at a distance of twenty feet. By late October, I have made a storage box shelter with heating pad, which he took to within minutes. Long story short, he now comes when I call hiim, has been moved up the hill to my walk out area and has learned to use a pet door to access an INDOOR shelter box attached to a window. This will insure complete survival when the weather gets sub zero as it can here in Ohio. I feed twice a day with individual paper plates, with a dry food snack mid day. He greets me now at the walk out door for every feeding, tryingi to step into the basement, so I use my booted leg to block him. I get many high body rubs as he waits for me to set down the food, but when I do, he wants to slap my hand, usually with claws extended. Scratched me three times so now I use Elk skin gloves which he cannot pierce. I think this slapping is a throwback from a previous experience with a person who roughed him up as a kitten. I’d like some hints on curbing this behavior. He’s made lots of progress in five months and I’ve tried feeding him a few crunchies on a small paper plate held in one hand, which he bats at first and then takes the food. If I leave the hand and plate, he’ll bat again but seems perplexed that the hand doesn’t withdraw. He came back and just placed his paw with outstretched claws on the glove for a full second, as if to test it. So, I believe he is trainable, just need some hints and thanks.

  23. lenoreosorio   January 30, 2014 at 10:25 pm  

    hello , my name is Lenore an I been taking care of 3 feral cats but as the weather gets colder an snow here there having it rough were I live there not nice they don’t allow us to feed the ferrals if we do the evicte us I had to stop feeding on the property an move it down the road ,,so sadly I cant put up housing ,, but last week I pulled into my spot it was snowing out an the 3 cats jumped into my car an I rolled down window half way so they can getvin n out I also put blankets in the car ,I check on them an they snuggle together on the blankets an in the morning there gone ,, I love these guys they are so friendly an loveable for ferrals ,, anyway do you have any advice on how I can make them warmer in my car an I hope they are safe in there,,,its very sad that one person that complains about feeding feral cats they want to slam u in court , im just trying to help these preciouse guys I fell in love with them,well if u guys have any advice please tell, Lenore Osorio,,from riverhead longisland…

    1. Mr Whiskers   February 20, 2014 at 5:41 pm  

      Hi Lenore, I love that you’re trying to help these cats. ๐Ÿ™‚
      If you still need help, there’s something called a ‘self-heating pad’ which I think would be warmer than a blanket.

      If those are sold out you can get one made by Ancol but I think you’d have to have it shipped from the UK.
      Sizes are 48×38 cm (small), 64x48cm (medium) and 90x64cm (large).
      Good luck!

  24. Mel   March 9, 2014 at 6:23 am  

    I am so glad to see more news and tips about feral cats. I take care of several and you will chuckle as it was so cold. I had scrap lumber in my basement, R11 insulation and yes, made a house. Several took turns in side and one time counted four. They were cozy and warm during this year’s brutal winter. Wish more would do the same.


We regret that Jackson does not answer questions posted in the comments. This is due to his demanding schedule and the high volume of requests he receives. But most importantly, since he has not met your cat, it would be contrary to his approach for him to give specific personalized advice for your specific situation. That being said, general questions and issues are addressed throughout this blog, in his book Cat Daddy and of course, the show My Cat From Hell.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *