November 2009"We need to make some warm places for them to sleep through the winter," I told Don. "Let's get some tarps and we'll drape them over the table. The umbrella will keep them dry, I think."
So we used old towels, got tarps and tried to cover the chairs and give the cats warm and safe places to sleep. But I didn't think it was working very well. The wind would blow the tarp off and then everything got wet.
So of course, I went back to Google.
It seems groups of feral cats that live together are called colonies. And their only hope of survival is for people to feed them and provide warm places for them to sleep through the winters.
There are plenty of other ideas online but this worked for our babies. I bought heating pads and used old towels and small blankets to wrap around the heating pads. (2014 note: I was a little worried about doing that, but after 5 years and no fires, electrocutions, or frozen cats, it seems to be an OK thing to do.) See instructions for making other kinds of shelters—Neighborhood Cats. Or just Google "shelters for feral cats" and you'll get lots of ideas if you're interested.
It didn't take long for the cats to discover their new houses. I'm not sure where they were sleeping before but evidently this was a better alternative. We could see them inside their little houses whenever the temp dropped.
We started out calling them Cat Houses and the Cat Hotel but somehow, that implied other things. Don said we were going to get kicked out of the neighborhood if anyone could see what we were doing. So we called our little cat community—Kitty City.
Our cats were very grateful. Yeah, right. Did you forget we're talking about cats here? Of course not! They still hissed at me and scooted to their "safe" places under the deck when I went out to feed them.
I felt very pleased with my "Animal Rescue" efforts until I remembered Mama cat and her desire to populate my backyard. Uh, oh. Better go back to Google. Yep, come spring, we were looking at a population explosion. And I had no idea of the gender of the ones we already had. Keep looking. There must be something we could do. There was!
Oh, Don, Guess what I found out?