As you may know by now, I’m pretty passionate about caring for feral cats. It kind of happened slowly. When we moved into this house, my neighbor was caring for a group of ferals. We weren’t really in a position to do much for them back then, but as time went on, we started feeding them too. They pretty much moved into my front yard. Still, they were just kind of there. It wasn’t until last year that I really got crazy about them, mostly because of a friendly guy we call “Monkey.”
I’m not going to give you the long story of how I came to love my ferals, I’ve written about them before numerous times. In fact, if you check out my post on caring for a feral that you’re planning to adopt, you’ll see more of their story. Instead, today, we’re going to talk a bit about keeping those friendly ferals safe during the summer!
Summer Safety Tips for Feral Cats
*Affiliate links included below. Thanks for your support!
I’ll say this up front, summer is a lot easier on the feral cat population than winter! We had to be really clever and creative to keep our friendly ferals warm and alive last winter. This winter wasn’t so awful, but there were still some bitter cold days. Still, there are a few things you can do to make summer easier on your ferals and also keep your family safer, especially if you’re feeding the kitties close to your house.
Keep them Hydrated
Water is vital to every living creature, including your feral cats. Did you know that most cats get their water from their diet? During the blazing hot summer months, considering offering your ferals wet food instead of (or along with) dry kibble. We fill a bowl with kibble for our guys, but we also give them wet food at night for dinner.
While they do prefer to get much of their water from food sources, it’s still important to make sure they have a clean source of water to drink from when they can’t get their fill from fresh food. This can be as simple as a big bowl that you replenish regularly or a self-filling pet water bowl.
This one is kind of cool because it attaches to your hose. Although if you have a well or pay for water, that could also be a problem. I’ve left my hose running and my ferals put a whole in it. I didn’t realize until my water ran brown because it hit the end of the well. Another option is one that you fill up and it refills itself until the big jug runs out.
Just make sure you dump and refresh it regularly, stagnant water is a magnet for mosquitoes. You can also create some sort of rain collector that your ferals can drink from. I’ve never tried this, but I think I will this summer.
Practice food safety
Here’s kind of a catch 22- while it’s better to feed your feral cats wet food during the summer months, it’s also more dangerous in a way. Wet food gets really gross and rotten pretty fast out in the blazing heat. You know what that means, right? Bugs. Disease-carrying mosquitoes, flies and other nasties. So you need to make sure that you’re on top of it, taking it away when they’re done. Otherwise, you’re inviting plague-carriers to your front door. Okay, maybe not that dramatic, but trust me, I’ve seen what happens when you leave wet food out too long!
They actually make ant-proof cat bowls, so you might want to look into those if you have an ant issue in your area. Those won’t keep flying bugs out though. Of course, you can avoid more bugs by opting for dry food, but I strongly feel that wet food is better for cats overall, so I think it’s worth the extra effort.
Give them shelter
During the winter, we make cat shelters out of old coolers, blankets and other materials. The problem: we designed them to retain heat. During the summer, you don’t have to go quite as crazy making awesome shelters for your ferals. They’re not fighting to survive frigid nights anymore. Still, it’s nice to have a place to go to get out of the rain or the blazing sun.
You can go as simple or as elaborate as you’d like with outdoor cat shelters for the summer. One very simple option: take an old playhouse that your kids are done with and move it to an area accessible by your ferals. If you don’t have a playhouse (or don’t want a giant Little Tikes manor in your front yard), you can also make shelters out of dog crates and tarp. Just secure the tarp to the top of the crate so it can’t blow away. Outdoor kitty condos, like those from PetMate, are a decent option for one or two ferals, but the cost of buying multiple condos for multiple kitties can get overwhelming really fast. Alley Cat Allies has a bunch of other great ideas for feral cat shelters for summer.
Respect the Mamas
Summer is prime time for babies to appear on the scene, and it’s super tempting to snag and cuddle them. Unless you have a solid plan to capture mama and all her kittens AND find them a place to live, though, stay away from those babies. Make sure your kids know that they’re not to touch the kittens, either. You’ll freak the mama cat out and she’ll end up moving her young kittens far, far away from you. I accidentally discovered a mama cat’s hiding spot once, then watched as she insisted on moving every last baby in the pouring rain.
There are exceptions. Fuzz was a feral and his mom was pretty relaxed about leaving her kids on our front stoop while she hunted. Sadly, she was killed, which is part of how Fuzz ended up inside with us. I know my ferals, though. I know which ones are happy to be pet and which want me to stay at least 10 feet away at all times. I don’t push it. Pushing it is a good way to get bit or scratched.
Caring for feral cats during the summer is definitely easier than doing it during the winter. I still worry about my guys getting eaten by predators, but at least I know they’re not at risk of freezing to death anymore! I’m not an expert on feral cat care, but these summer safety tips have worked well for me the past few years. I am always learning more and will pass on any new tips that I learn. If you have any advice, I’d love to hear it!
- How to Choose the Right Car Pet Safety Harness by Other People’s Pets
- Pet Safety Infographic by Callista’s Ramblings
- 5 Safety Tips for Travelling with Your Dog in the Car by Dogurday
- 10 Safety Tips for Dog Toys by Time Out for Truffles
- Stress in Dogs: It’s Far More Dangerous Than It Seems! by DogVills
- 6 Ways to Keep Your Dog and Kids Safe When They Meet by Lincoln the French
Have you ever cared for feral cats? Tell me your tips for keeping them healthy during the summer!