60% of Stray Cats Can't Survive Harsh Winters
Winter, a cold and chilly season that can be most unforgiving in different parts of the world when unsheltered. With climate change leading to extreme weather conditions in some places, we humans can wrap up warm while our furry street cat friends brave the hardest of days without an opportunity to escape the violent chill. Stray cats in the city have a relatively short life and a number of environmental conditions effect their probability of living. Traffic, disease, malnutrition and even the weather have an impact on a cat’s life expectancy and significantly reduces the time a cat will be able to live for. The weather is particularly dangerous to cats with thinner fur coats who lack the genetic adaption for harsh weather conditions.
Did you know that 60% of stray cats won’t survive the coming winter? Most of them will vanish from our street by next year.
Differences Between Stray Cats and Feral Cats
There is a distinct difference between stray and feral cats. Stray cats are those fur babies which once lived a life of domestication and were eventually abandoned or lost. If you’ve seen an overly friendly cat approaching you on the street, it often means they have had plenty of human exposure and have previously developed a connection with humans beforehand. Stray cats will appreciate any food given to them with delight.
Feral cats are those who have always lived the street life. The thug life chose meow, and the streets are ever unforgiving. Battle hardened by life itself, feral cats will not often show a similar amicable approach to humans and may growl at those who invade their personal space. This group of cats have much on their mind and grooming is not their first priority, they may appear to be unclean without regard for personal cleansing. They are also known to be bold in comparison to stray cats as they will own territory and will occupy certain areas.
Many Feral cats lack human socialization and will not show any form of affection towards humans. Their need for survival in tough conditions holds no sympathy from humans. If you approach a feral kitty they will probably give you the cold shoulder, if you can meet one at all that is. Feral street cats follow their natural body clock, natural predators of the night, they can commonly be seen on the prowl after sunset or into the late hours of the night or early morning.
Feral cats prioritize survival, they have versatile survival traits and will do their best to win their next scrap of food or fend off intruders in their territory. If you wish to feed a feral cat, leaving food on the floor and watching from a distance is often as close as one will get to helping a kitty in need.
Our love for animals all over begins to arrive at the next question of discussion, what is to become of these wonderful wild cats during the difficult winter months? Is there anything we can do to help our neighborhood felines?
Helping Cats in the Winter
As responsible citizens, we care for our neighbors and this extends to being caring and considerate of our cat citizens.
Grit Salt on Ice
Avoid using grit salts to de-ice your road, salts contain harmful chemicals that are toxic to kitties. Cats walk over salt on icy roads, leading them to eventually lick their paws during grooming sessions. Ingestion eventually leads to many health complications that can end in loss of life. If use of grit salt is unavoidable, plan where to lay it and avoid any usual feeding or resting spots cats frequent.
Keep Cats Away from Antifreeze
Antifreeze, is known to consist mostly of Ethylene Glycol. This compound is highly potent is just as toxic to animals. Ingestion of just small amounts can cause immediate health damage, fatality is possible if not treated immediately.
Winter months make driving conditions difficult, stopping distances increase and visibility can be obscured by bad weather and less daylight hours means you will most likely be driving in darkness. Take extra care to check every corner of you before setting off, cats will seek sources of warmth during these cold and hard times. It’s not uncommon for a wandering cat to find shelter beneath warm car engines, which is in fact a dangerous location for anyone to be resting. Some cats may even find their way to into the engine space itself, keep a keen ear when driving around and stop at any abnormality sounds for a check.
Feed Street Cats Safely
Feeding stray and feral cats from a distance is a much appreciated gesture of care. Feeding them in a safe and dedicated space will make sure they get the food and drink they need without being expose to other dangers. Continue to use the same designated space to show cats that their nutritious goodness can be found at this safe spot, they will eventually turn up when they need food, limiting time on the roads in the cold, sourcing food. Regularly check food or water hasn’t frozen and bowls are made from appropriate materials that won’t split and break in the cold.
Provide a Safe Sanctuary
It’s our dream to provide a safe sanctuary that cats can freely visit in tougher times. When freezing temperatures arrive, cats will most likely need to face harmful cases of frostbite and eventual death. If you’re able to open a space that will provide warmth and security for stray cats, their chances of survival in winter will dramatically increase. Meow!