The first cold snap of the year always sends me into a tail spin with the cats. We had a very mild day on Saturday with temperatures near 50. Sunday brought high winds, snow and plummeting temperatures. Every year I try to remember that I don’t need to worry so much about the cats being cold and surviving. Yet, I do still worry especially when it’s the first blast of cold and wind of the season.
Sunday started off with falling temperatures and rain changing to snow. The wind quickly followed. Shadow and Hampton chose to stay on the covered deck in their magic boxes. This was fine for the beginning of the day as the temperatures were still in the 30’s. The wind is what caused some issues. The canopy was creaking and the tent structure was shaking. Shadow is used to the sounds and still struggles with them. Poor Hampton had a very hard day. He would settle for a short bit in a shelter and then run and hide under the deck for long periods. Stellar was elsewhere at the time.
I kept going out and to check on the temperature of the heated houses and make adjustments to the temperature. Some repair work was done on Hampton’s shelter and it seemed to be warmer. I have a wireless thermometer in Shadow and Stellar’s shelter and it seemed fine. Yet in Hampton’s I only had a digital one. I did discover that I could use binoculars and see the temperature! I had purchased a refrigerator/freezer wireless digital thermometer and tried them in the heated houses. The temperature readings seemed way off base. After researching a bit I discovered they were not designed for outdoor use. I did find that they sell wireless thermometers with multiple sensors that use different frequency channels. This is what I need!
The cats finally settled down into the heated shelters, but it was almost 8pm before everyone was inside them. Stellar arrived at meal time and went immediately into the heated shelter. He is the smart one!! Shadow then decided to go into Hampton’s. This left poor Hampton without a place to get warm. Hampton is not comfortable being so close with Shadow and Stellar so he would not enter either shelter. Finally Shadow got brave and went in to snuggle with Stellar and Hampton quickly went into his own shelter. Whew! I have such a hard time not being able to just put them into their own spots! Yet I know that if I try to force them they will only end up running off and hiding elsewhere. In time they usually come to their senses and find the warmth.
This morning the outside temperature was 9 with a wind chill of -6. The cats were snuggled in the heated shelters and seemed happy. They all came out to eat and then Shadow and Hampton scampered back to warmth. Stellar as usual made a beeline out to the pine trees to watch the squirrels and birds for an hour or so. He then made his way back to snuggle with Shadow. They have not left the shelters at all since breakfast.
Tonight it will not be so cold, but tomorrow is to bring more snow showers, wind and falling temperatures. Hopefully they will be more at ease when the wind arrives and realize they are safe despite the racket the wind makes. I also hope that I will be more at ease and realize they are just fine in their heated shelters.
I often find it quite a struggle when the cats decide not to do what I think is best! When dealing with feral cats, fear often wins out instead of common sense. I do not believe they would purposefully freeze to death, but on the other hand they often choose not to be in the warmest spot because of their fear. This makes it difficult to sit back and watch them when they are struggling. Watching Hampton yesterday was so sad and frustrating. I had wished that Stellar had been here as he is so calm and usually goes with the flow. Shadow is so skittish and not at all brave. Hampton needed Stellar yesterday to calm him, but instead he received the nervous skittish energy of Shadow. All of this was out of my control making it a hard part of caring for feral cats.