Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Warm Homecoming

This is the fall season, the season of cool nights that are harbingers of colder nights to come. We welcome all those energetic activities that surround the big homecoming celebrations around the country. It is all a reminder that there are things to do to get ready for the chill.
I just returned from an out of town trip and received a different kind of homecoming; it was more of a welcome back. My two black and white barn cats, Polka Dot and Moonbeam were the welcoming committee. But talk about energy. Once they caught sight of me walking through the barn door as it got light the other morning, I have never seen such a flurry of rubbing, rolling on the ground happiness, punctuated by quiet little meows of appreciation. Believe it or not, a year ago these two were hiding as far away as they could possibly get in a storage room of my barn. They had just been rescued by the Fort Collins Friends of Ferals from a home where they had been hoarded. They were scared, undernourished and sickly.
Believe it or not these two friendly, ecstatic cats had started out their lives as feral cats.
So today I want to honor National Feral Cat day, October 16th by letting people know that you never know what a little compassion can do. I decided to keep these cats to see if they might be able to be socialized. It has taken a year but I have to say that out of the large number of cats I have been happy to share my life with, these two have the top rating. They are smart, friendly, energetic, respectful, polite and most of all loving. At suppertime, If they are not waiting under my kitchen window all I have to do is call them:
“ Pokey “, I yell, ”Mookie, come for supper” and almost every time they emerge from somewhere, the fields nearby, the neighbor’s barn or bushes near our house and they come running, slowing down to be petted and most recently to be picked up and carried a few steps to the barn where they will be fed. They are adorable.
Since they have grown, the winter shelter I have for them to snuggle up in is now too small. This fall I have been trying to set up a ‘warming house’ for them that will sit inside the barn in one of the empty stalls so they will be warm during the below zero temperatures that are always a part of the winter weather here in northern Colorado. Thank goodness Ally Cat Allies has a wonderful website that gives all kinds of ideas and instructions about how to provide for feral cats in cold weather.
So homecoming also means colder nights are ahead for the cats. The warming house I am putting together is different than the ones that are used outside. It will not be in the weather but it still needs to be warm enough for them even though it is in the barn. I have a large (about 20’X30”) heavy plastic storage container with a lid. It needed to be big enough for the two cats plus the insulation. I like the idea of a lid so I can take it off once in a while to clean the inside and be sure it stays dry. I ended up insulating it with 1” thick soft styrofoam (used in pillows, etc.) laid inside around the sides, top and bottom, secured with duct tape. Then I cut pieces of a heavy plastic sheet to lay over the styrofoam and taped it down with duct tape too so the cats won’t (accidently?) shred the Styrofoam.
I am going to drill a hole in the end so I can string the cord from a heating pad (for pets) inside the box if needed. But best of all I am placing an old comforter inside for them to curl up in. I have cut a 6” door and will tape a flap over it but it won’t have to deal with wind or anything like that. So that is it. I’m hoping to have it done by this weekend in plenty of time before snow flies.
So in honor of National Feral Cat day I offer this idea for an inside barn warming house for any feral cats that might be using a barn this winter.


  1. I'm sure the cats will appreciate "their nest".

  2. Pam,
    What a great story about not giving up on animals. Those two cuties are lucky to have you. And thanks for the heads up about National Feral Cat Day. Who knew?
    Sounds like you're creating quite a cozy spot for the winter. Bless you!