4 Ways to Help Strays This Winter

Monday, January 25, 2016

Written by Ariana Palmieri
 
The cold is tough on animals, including strays. Many people think strays can handle the cold better than indoor pets, but that's not necessarily true.
Feral cats and dogs can die from frigid temperatures!
Here's how to help prevent this:
 
1. Call in a stray  
Seeing stray, feral cats is more common, but there are stray dogs too.
 
If you see a stray, it could very well belong to someone and just be lost. The best thing to do would be to contact the local authorities and report it. In NYC, you can call 311 to report a stray dog, abandoned pets, or orphaned kittens. Also, Animal Care and Control (ACC) accepts reports of lost, found, stray, or abandoned animals. You can check the ACC's lost/found database to report a lost pet, or see all reported lost pets. Remember: Call 911 if an animal appears to be dangerous or shows signs of rabies!
 
2. Make strays a shelter 
Making a shelter doesn't need to be hard: Try taking a large plastic box and cutting an opening into it, like the ones in this picture.
 
Chances are, strays will need somewhere to rest for the night. Since most shelters, including the ACC, don't take in "healthy stray adult cats," cats typically need the shelters more. You can make shelters out of several things, like storage bins, Styrofoam, and plywood. It's important to insulate the shelters you build. The best bet is straw, because it allows cats to burrow. Do not insulate the shelter with blankets, towels, hay, or folded newspapers, as these materials do not fair well when wet. Cats tend to group together in a colony, so make sure your shelter can fit them all!
 
3. Leave out food and water 
Strays need to eat, just like indoor pets do!
Leave them some water and food bowls in an area you know they'll visit.
 
During the winter it can be incredibly hard for strays to find food, especially when it snows. By providing them with food, you'll be saving them a lot of time and energy. If you made a shelter for them, be sure to place the food and water near there, but protected from the elements. It's okay to place food inside the shelter, but do not put water inside of it. If you're worried the water will freeze, check this out.
 
4. Consider taking the animal home 
 
If none of those options speak to you, maybe you should consider taking the animal home with you. If you want to do this, and the animal seems willing to come with you, make sure you stop by to see the vetenarian first. Strays can carry diseases on them, so it's important to make sure your health, as well as anyone else living with you, comes first. Be sure to consider the responsibility taking the stray with you would entail. While it is a wonderful idea, and could save a stray's life, the animal deserves all the attention and love it can get. If you feel you cannot give it everything it needs, do not attempt to take it home. Also, take into consideration it may have an owner who is desperately searching for it. Would you be willing to part with the animal should the owner turn up? If you're confident you could handle these possibilities, then make sure to express caution and compassion while taking the animal with you. Also remember to check your state's requirements for ownership - you may have to satisfy some state/local requirements before you're the legal owner of the animal!

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