Winter is coming. And with it comes extra hardships for homeless cats, who will add battling with freezing temperatures, snowstorms, and frozen water sources to the many dangers they face year-round.
Cats who live outdoors have a hard enough time of it during temperate months, but winter adds an extra layer of misery to a life spent dodging cars, scratching at ear mites, struggling with debilitating diseases like feline AIDS and leukemia, and trying to avoid or survive attacks by coyotes, loose dogs, and cruel people armed with guns, arrows, and poison.
Every winter, cats and kittens lose limbs, ears, and tails to frostbite. They suffer and die of exposure. They are slashed to ribbons when they crawl into car engines seeking warmth, not realizing that their “refuge” will turn into a death trap when the engine is started and the fan blades start spinning. Cats often succumb to dehydration and starvation when they dart into garages, sheds, crawl spaces, and drain pipes seeking shelter and become trapped.
Just a small sampling of winter horror stories include a cat in Indiana who had to have his tail and a leg amputated after he climbed into a car engine, a kitten in North Dakota who was found with his paws frozen to the ground and his eyes frozen open, and a cat in Connecticut who was swept up and nearly buried alive by a snow plow.
Homeless cats are not super-felines: They are no more capable of surviving extreme weather conditions and other hazards than the felines we share our homes with.
What You Can Do
Trapping, neutering, and abandoning homeless cats to fend for themselves on the streets is cold, both literally and figuratively. Instead of abandoning cats, we should be fighting feline homelessness at the roots by requiring that all cats be spayed and neutered and kept indoors. If your local shelters have adopted “no-kill” or trap-neuter-release (TNR) policies and refuse to accept unwanted cats, remind them that animals will die in the cold if they don’t have a warm, safe place to go to, and urge them to reverse these misguided policies. Please, spread the word about the dangers of TNR by sharing this video on social media.