During the last few months, whilst we had the outbreak of two deadly viruses (and several less hostile ailments) I simply did not dare bring more cats into my already large crew of cats. It's been a tough decision to live with because there were four more needy young cats living at the nearby dumpster where I daily feed 10-12 cats. I knew the younger ones - all between 5-7 months old - really needed rescuing from living in the harsh winter temperatures. We've had our coldest winter here ever (freezing temperatures and even snow, which rarely happens) and it's been evident from their poor health that it's been very tough on them.
But... this winter I've singly been trying handle what (from my time as a volunteer) normally would be requiring a team of 12-15 people, so I knew at some point I had to cut off - there is of course only so much one person singly can do. Well, one week ago the hard fact hit home. I found one of the young cats (the brother of the grey boy in the above image) lying in the small polystyrene boxes I'd provided for them - head dangling out in an alarming way. I knew it was bad an instantly went for a transport box - then off to the vet. Upon examination he found the cat to have a bad respiratory infection + hypothermic, anemic, dehydrated and riddled with fleas. He was put on fluids and intravenous antibiotics immediately. For a short while he flourished (and when I visited he responded so sweetly, purring, talking and giving me nose rubs - he was a feral!) but sadly he died Sunday night. Yes imagine my emotional agony, if only I had...
Now there's three young cats left. The youngest one named Elvis - the little one above coming out of the box (maybe you remember him from this post - last image), Grey - the brother of the one that perished - and Tabby (underneath image), the brother of Tiffy from last post. I have seriously been considering rescuing the three of them but Elvis is extremely feral and has been impossible to get even close to over the last three months. He sleeps snuggled up with the other two, so you get the predicament. If I save those two what will become of Elvis? He is the smallest (and seriously cute!).
Well, after the little grey cat died I knew I had to do something. They couldn't continue to sleep in the extremely cold temperatures we've had recently. So I did a little research and found an instruction for a feral shelter - one that's meant for Canadian feral cats to survive the winter! It's made from 2 inch (5cm) thick polystyrene - the kind that's used to insulate houses (that should keep the cold wind out!!) but - most importantly - it is lined throughout with a survival blanket (like thin silver foil) which retains body heat! Lastly it is padded with an old woolen blanket. Before launching this little castle I warmed the woolen blanket on the radiator. I was amazed at how it seemed to warm up the inside of the box. Last night when I went 'round to leave the box for them (with a few whiffs of Feliway and leaving a small scrap of fabric from their old box) I was AMAZED to find that they forewent their dinner and went straight into their new much warmer home. I sat in the car for a while and they didn't reappear. Only this morning did I see them again - reluctantly coming out of their new home.
This blue box is made under the banner "No cat should die in vain" (attributed to little grey) - I just knew I had to make something that will have made his life count. Now I hope his brother and friends get to make it through winter, not needing to sleep near to hypothermia each night.
The template for the shelter can be found in this pdf - scroll down to bottom for images and how to.
P.s. I know this is just a few cats and is just a drop in the ocean - but I'm a firm believer that a difference has to start in the small.