Yikes! The “historic blizzard” Juno is bearing down upon us and I for one cannot get the thought of animals stuck outside out of my mind. I can only hope that people are kind and humane enough to bring their outdoor animals indoors for the duration of the storm.
There’s an old saying I like, something to the effect of “If you can do, you should do.” This sentiment guides me. Can I help them all? No. Can I help some of them? Yes.
I live in a neighborhood of Victorian houses and I know many cats burrow down under the porches by the foundations. Cats also like to take refuge under the hoods of cars. They climb up through the undercarriage of the car and seek warmth and shelter by the engine. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of this, so today I posted a message on our many neighborhood listservs, FB pages and blogs:
“Just a reminder all–if you ARE able to start your cars after the snow over the next few days please take a moment to bang on the hood first. Many stray and feral cats will be desperate for warmth and shelter during the storm and car engines provide both. Banging on the hood allows the cats a chance to exit before suffering bad burns. Thank you!”
I’ve already seen a few people sharing and re-posting, and I hope the info spreads.
I’ve been thinking about how to create an awning for my feral-shelter-town of Oreo Cats–they now have 5 shelters but with 18-24 inches of snow coming down they need some sort of covering to protect them from getting snowed in by heavy drifts. This morning I had time before my callback–yes, we have callbacks even with historic blizzards around the corner–so I visited the pile of discarded, forgotten construction materials behind my building. The pile has been the bane of my existence for years until I realized I could re-purpose some of it to help shelter feral cats. This is the life of a Catress.
I, uh, “borrowed” 2 lattice-work wooden fences about 3×5 feet each and covered them both with heavy-duty contractor bags. These I placed at an angle over the shelter-town and let them lean on the existing breeze-blocker I put up last week. I covered these with a section of a heavy-duty canvas tarp I had lying around (don’t ask) and covered THAT with a large section of Astro-turf floor covering. I secured everything with some bricks and cinder-blocks and lashed the structure to the fence, leaving a small gap of about 7×10 inches in the lower left corner for the kitties to enter and exit.
I checked on them on my way home from my callback with a fantastic director whose commercials are dry and funny as can be. Most of the team was stuck out of state so for once I auditioned in front of 2 people instead of 10 (truth be told they were video-conferenced in but you know what they say…out of sight, out of mind.)
The kitties were using their shelters and are clearly able to get in and out of their new structure easily. I left them a huge container of dry food (the wet food freezes so quickly in this cold) under the awning–a self-service snack bar, if you will. Throughout all of this work I am jumping in and out of the yard by scaling the neighbors iron fence and then climbing over the gate locked with a heavy duty chain. I still have my callback makeup on while I’m trespassing. This is the life of a Catress.
I hope they will stay warm and dry and well-fed tonight and into tomorrow. If it’s not too bad out I will hoof it over and make sure they are not snowed in. It’s a small thing, but there are 5 Oreo cats with shelter tonight where once they had none. Hats off to all the other intrepid animal rescuers and advocates out there working to help animals weather –and survive– the storm.