Sunday, February 13, 2011

Feral Cats Rescued in the Snow



Blizzard in Missouri
With extreme weather conditions in the forecast I needed to lure the feral cats out of their thicket dens and into our garage shelter where there was a window heater and space heaters.  The forecast called for blizzard conditions; wintery mix of snow, ice and artic wind.

The thicket dens are safe haven for the feral cats under normal conditions, however when there is a blizzard condition forecast with a severe snow and ice then the thicket dens become dangerous.  They will be buried under the snow and ice and the cats will be trapped inside.

Feral cat lying on down tree in forest
My husband and I reacted to the weather forecast by hiking through the forest to the cat colony on the ridge.  We used our field glasses to look for the feral cats.  We saw a few cats lying in the brush by the elderberry trees and a black and white cat was viewed lying on a down tree.  


The forest was calm with an average temperature of 29 degrees.  Come late afternoon the temperatures will drop quickly as the arctic blizzard passes.

Space heater in garage shelter for feral cats
 I attempted to move the cats from their thicket dens by leaving a trail of seafood flavored dry kibble I was hoping the cats would follow the food trail to my garage shelter. Where there are kitty tube shelters, insulated cat boxes, and a window heater as well as space heaters to keep the cats warm.  None of the cats came to the shelter.




It started to snow in late afternoon and the white powder was coming down fast. By midnight there was approximately 20 inches of snow on the ground with ice and drifts. 

Path in snow to garage shelter for feral cats
My husband and I went out to plow a path in the snow to the feral cat’s dens.  We did this to provide the cats with a safe passage to our garage shelter. The path was 30 feet long and 30 inches wide.   

We worked with snow shovels to make the path.  When we got to the main den we found that it was covered with snow and that a drift blocked the front and back entrances.  We used our hands to open the front entrance.  This was a slow and careful procedure because we did not want the snow to fall into the cavity of the den.  We worked in extreme cold conditions as the temperature was four below zero.

Feral cat in thicket den
The snow was removed from the entrance and the exit.  I used my flashlight to check for the cats.  We called the cats with a clicker and waited.  The feral cat that I call Lucy came to the ticket entrance.  




Feeding feral cat in the snow
I left her food and water and waited until she and the other cats had eaten before leaving.  The following morning we checked the feral cats at the thicket den and tried to lure the cats out of the thicket den with food kibble trail on the snow plowed path. 
  


feral cat walking in snow
Two days later at 1:20am there was movement on the path.  I viewed Lucy the feral cat walking on the path.  She was coming for food in the shelter.  

Three feral cats followed Lucy to our garage and remained close to our garage shelter until the winter storm passed.  

There were many thickets in the woods and we searched ten of them and helped the other colony caregivers to locate their cats.  We searched for cats for four days.