BUCKHANNON — As winter approaches and temperatures begin to drop, it’s vital to remember our furry friends outdoors. Freezing temperatures can be life threatening for outdoor dogs and cats, so couple Katy Ross and Katie Angeles from Randolph County sought to help in any way they could.
This past weekend, Ross and Angeles hosted a party at their home with close friends and family. However, it was no regular party. Guests teamed up to build cozy cat shelters for the strays around Elkins. Ross told The Record Delta, she and her fiancé encounter a large number of stray cats on her street daily basis. The duo want to find a way to keep them safe during the approaching cold winter.
“It seems like wherever I am, whether it be work, home, or someone else’s home, I see lots of outdoor strays. In the winter, I worry constantly about how they’re fairing in the cold weather. I saw a little infographic about how to make these outdoor shelters on Facebook and thought it would be a relatively easy way to help ensure that the kitties have a warm place to go” said Ross. “Unfortunately, I know of quite a few cases where outdoor cats have frozen to death in the winter, or cats who climbed up in car engines for warmth only to be injured or killed when the car is started. The more people who make and put these shelters outside their homes, the less cats we have dying from things that are largely preventable.”
The cat shelters were constructed with double-stacked totes and straw, ensuring insulation and warmth, only taking around 15-20 minutes each. “We got our plastic totes at Dollar General in Buckhannon, the styrofoam insulation at Lowe’s, and the straw was donated to us by the Randolph County Humane Society. One shelter will cost you about $25 if you’re buying all the materials new,” Ross explained.
In only an hour and a half, the group had already constructed five cozy shelters, which will surely go on to protect and save multiple stray cats/kittens. The couple put one in their backyard and placed the remaining around Elkins in areas with high stray cat populations. Angeles noted that it is important to put the cat shelters in places where they can receive direct sunlight for part of the day, but not a place where the cat feels too “exposed” to rest. The couple have theirs up against a shed in their backyard, for example.
“The stray cat population in our communities is getting out of control because people aren’t getting their pets spayed/neutered. Unless something changes there, we’re just going to continue seeing more cold cats and dogs every winter, said Ross. “Though making these outdoor shelters doesn’t fix the problem, it does give some of these outdoor animals a warm place to go when it’s cold outside. For them, it makes all the difference and may just be the thing that keeps them alive through the winter.”