Kick off the new year with a new pet!

puppy

The Quad Cities have had a mild winter mostly this year, no real snow falling until after Christmas. But with the fall of snow comes falling temperatures, which can put stray animals at risk. The QC is full of stray cats, and it’s a pandemic across the world. Stray dogs are less common in our area, so I’ll be focusing on cats for this article.

Most people, when they see a stray cat – especially during the winter – want to help somehow, but they aren’t sure how. Feeding them is a good start; any cat food would do, but don’t leave canned food out for an extended period of time during the winter as it will freeze. A person shouldn’t just put food out whenever, though. Wait until you see the cat hanging around your house before putting the food out. If you leave food out, you will attract other animals such as raccoons or possums.

But even better than just feeding them, you could make a home for a stray cat. I don’t mean bring them into your home, as stray cats can carry diseases or fleas. But you can build an inexpensive house for stray cats with items you can buy at a local hardware store that also sells foam insulation sheets. You can get instructions on how to build one from alleycatadvocates.org.

To build a cat home, you’ll need

  • 2 Rubbermaid storage containers (one must be small enough to fit into the other with room for the insulation, so probably an 18 gallon for the larger one)
  • straw
  • an 8 ft x 2 ft sheet of foam insulation (I used styrofoam because it was much cheaper and works about the same in my opinion. Also you can snap it instead of cutting it.)
  • a box cutter

You cut a six inch by six inch hole in the larger tub a couple inches from the ground, cut styrofoam to fit into the tub along all four walls (don’t forget to cut a whole where the door is), put the smaller tub inside (also with a matching door hole), put lots of straw in the bottom of the smaller bin, put the lid on the smaller bin, put a styrofoam lid on top of the bin, then put the larger bin’s lid on. Don’t put it somewhere dogs could get to the cat, or directly onto the cold ground. Put a couple 2x4s underneath the cat home to lift it off the ground. I have a garden table on my deck with a lower shelf, so I put mine there.

You can download better instructions from Alley Cat Advocates, as well as instructions on building even more cat homes, from AlleyCat.org.

If you’d rather not build a cat home, but still want to help animals, you can visit the Rock Island County Animal Welfare Shelter by the Airport with donations. They’re always accepting cat and dog food, kitten food, bleach for cleaning, paper towels, towels, cat litter, and leashes. To see more of their wish list, visit the QC Paws page on Facebook. QC Paws is the non-profit volunteer organization that works with the RICO Animal Shelter to help staff the shelter as well as help to get the animals adopted. You can see many of the pets available for adoption on the QC Paws page.

If you want to adopt an animal from the RICO Animal Shelter, their hours for adoption are noon until 5PM Monday through Friday and Noon until 4PM Saturday and Sunday. The RICO Animal Shelter also has a Vaccination Clinic from 1 PM to 4PM on Wednesdays.

Written by Anna Headley