Has a furry guest been paying you a visit? Perhaps you’ve been gardening in the backyard and spotted a cat in the shadows, looking on with curious eyes. Although stray cats are elusive, you’ll see them around more often if you provide a nice home.
It’s important to note that taking care of stray cats in the summer is a unique situation compared to the other seasons. The blazing sun can evaporate water supplies, and bugs will flock to food dishes. Stray cats shouldn’t have to rough it in the wild on their own, so it’s up to you to take care of their needs. Here are a few simple tips to help out your friendly neighborhood kitties.
Set out enough food and water
If you live near a cat colony and want to leave out some food, make sure there’s enough for the whole lot. The amount of food you leave outside will ultimately depend on how many cats are coming to dine. Not sure if you’ve left enough food? Time it out. If the food is gone within 15 minutes, consider putting out more next time.
Leaving out wet food is tricky because it will dry out in the summer heat. To avoid this, mix in a tiny bit of water and place the feeding station in a shaded area. Water makes wet food last longer and gives your feral friend some extra hydration, which is always a plus on the hottest days. If you’d rather not chance it with wet food, dry food will keep for much longer.
Water bowls are of the utmost importance in summer. Keep the water you leave out cold by adding ice cubes and placing it in the shade, as well. If you’re worried about evaporation, set out multiple water bowls so cats have options if one dries up. Check on the bowls several times a day, refilling them as needed and cleaning out bugs that crawl inside.
Keep wildlife and pests away
You might be tempted to skip exact measurements and leave out a heaping pile of dry kibble, so the feral cats have something to munch on whenever they want. However, that dry kibble will disappear in a flash if other wild animals get to it first. You want to feed stray cats—not a coyote!
Leave any food you put outside for up to an hour after “feeding time” is done. If no cats return for seconds, bring the food bowls inside the house until the next time you decide to feed.
Wild animals aren’t the only saboteurs invading your cat’s colony’s food, though. The warm summer air sends bugs into a frenzy, and they’re difficult to keep at bay. One trick you can try is to place a food bowl in the center of a larger bowl filled with an inch of water. This creates a “moat” around the food, preventing creepy crawlers from getting into where they don’t belong.
Block out the heat
Heat is one of the most dangerous things for feral cats in summer, so you’ll want to do your part to ensure your neighborhood’s furry friends have some respite from the sun. Trees and bushes are excellent sources of shade. Patio umbrellas are also effective, as is other outdoor furniture that offers shelter.
If your backyard lacks naturally shady spots, get creative with tarps and tents or even build something akin to a doghouse to provide a cool place for stray cats to rest. However you arrange their living space, make sure these areas have plenty of air circulation, so the kitties don’t overheat!
A good rule of thumb is to imagine being the stray cat. Would you be okay hanging out in a sun-lit spot when it’s extremely hot outside? Probably not. Providing them with shade and water can help them rest and cool down when they have nowhere else to go.
A few kind gestures will go a long way in transforming your backyard into a cat haven. Stray cats will tell all their other kitty friends that your backyard is the go-to place on the block. Just remember to pay attention to the heat to help your feral friends stay safe and healthy.