By Stephanie Malench
On January 10, over a dozen volunteers from across the Metro East met at The Vault in Glen Carbon to build 80 shelters for homeless cats. The volunteers and the materials needed to make the shelters were brought together from cat rescue and TNR (trap-neuter-release) groups on Facebook.
The Metro East Winter Cat Shelter Group founder Carrie Kopp of Edwardsville had been wanting to make shelters for people who feed and care for homeless cats since she became active in TNR and fostering cats with St. Louis Feral Cat Outreach. Kopp is now a foster for Madison County Animal Control.
The purpose of the houses is to help keep cats that do not have a home to go into during the winter warm and dry.
Cat shelters are quick and easy to make once the materials have been gathered. All that is needed is a styrofoam cooler (14’x18’x18′) or 25 gallon or larger storage tote plus 1′ foam insulation panels, gorilla or duct tape to secure the lid and keep it water tight, straw to line the inside of the shelter, and a six inch circular saw to cut the opening in the tote or cooler. Catnip can be added to the straw inside to encourage cats to go inside.
The best place for a homeless cat shelter is by or just inside a shed or a sheltered porch where there is not much traffic. If possible, place a piece of plywood hanging over the entrance to the shelter to keep rain and snow out, and know what direction the wind, rain and snow come from so the opening faces away. Bricks or blocks on the top will keep the shelter from blowing away in high winds. Make sure to keep an eye on the shelter during snow and keep the entry shoveled.
Between 100 and 150 individuals who help care for homeless cats have requested shelters from the group.
Additional builds and give aways (for a donation) will be held in the future and will be listed in the Facebook group Metro East Winter Cat Shelter Group.