Saint John's stray cats get shelters for winter warmth

As temperatures drop, volunteers in Saint John are trying to provide for the city's population of stray and feral cats.

Volunteers make portable shelters of plastic tubs so feral cats have place to get out of cold

As temperatures drop, volunteers in Saint John are trying to provide for the city's population of feral cats.

Cat lovers got together Sunday and made portable shelters for felines.

The shelters involve taking large plastic tubs, lining them with insulation or straw, and cutting an opening for the cats to use.

Kelly Stewart was one of about 15 volunteers who spent Sunday making portable shelters for Saint John's feral cat population. (CBC)
"To put something like this together, it doesn't take very much, but for what it does for the cats, it's priceless," said Kelly Stewart, one of about 15 volunteers who participated in Sunday's effort.

Heather Baxter said the shelters are easy to make and can help a lot.

"Really they just need somewhere warm," she said. "Cats can survive outside on their own if it's necessary. But they have to have proper food, shelter, and water," said Baxter.

"Water is one of the biggest things as well. People might feed them and they may give them a blanket to lay on which actually is worse than having one of these shelter obviously, because the blanket will hold the moisture and freeze."

Theresa Mattix came up with the idea. Along with providing a place of warmth for cats, she thinks it will also educate the public on how big the stray cat population is in Saint John.

"A lot of feral cats don't come out during the day and most people don't see them, they don't see the colonies," she said. "So they don't know about it and they need to know that there's a great need for responsible pet ownership."

Baxter is a member of Cat Rescue Maritimes. She's cared for 33 feral cats in her neighbourhood for 12  years. She says the problem started with one abandoned cat.

"Those kittens had kittens. And those kittens had kittens," she said. "Within six or seven years, there was probably 60 to 100 cats in our neighbourhood."

Baxter says making sure strays are spayed and neutered is the only way the population will decline.


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