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  • Writer's pictureStaci-lee Sherwood

Here’s how to help outdoor cats (those abandoned, lost or feral) stay safe

Updated: Jan 16

By Staci-lee Sherwood


Have you ever seen a cat or kitten you just knew had no home? No safe warm place where they had love, care and access to food and water on a daily basis and wondered how you could help? There are many ways people can help without it costing a lot of money or taking a lot of time.  The best way to help homeless cats is to first have them fixed so they don’t reproduce anymore cats likely to end up homeless too.  Second would be to find a loving home for them.  If those options aren’t available another way is to provide shelter since life on the street, even for animals, is a tough daily struggle.  Providing some shelter from the cold, heat and rain would go a long way to helping these cats feel safe.  When these animals feel safe they’re easier to trap to fix, socialize and adopt out.


Shocking stats of homeless cats

Despite our proclaimed love of our pets on social media the number of homeless cats in the U.S. is an unbelievable 35 - 80,000,000 based on estimates from surveys across the country! Another 3,000,000 are handed over to shelters every year.  Most of these cats would not have been born and homeless if people were more responsible by spaying/neutering their pets.  For such a modern country this number of homeless cats is unfathomable.  You can imagine what the global number is. 


Almost all of this is human caused either by laziness, ignorance or cruelty.  The reasons for not fixing one’s pet may be varied but the end result is the same. Killing cats in shelters and animal control facilities is not the answer. Obviously this doesn’t even make a dent in fixing the problem.  Let’s not forget that outdoor cats kill tens of millions of songs birds every year, most of whom are endangered species.  The problem of homeless cats is more than just a cat problem, it’s also a bird/wildlife/ecosystem problem.  Despite the number of pet owners has increased and abandoned animals to shelters has decreased, in the last few decades, the number of homeless cats and dogs is way too high.  The reality is the vast majority of cats born will never find a permanent home.


Here are some interesting recent statistics:

  • Roughly 6.5 million animals enter shelters each year but only 3.2 million are adopted. (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals)

  • Approximately 85 million families are pet owners. (Humane Society)

  • Compared to 1973, the number of cats and dogs entering shelters annually is down from more than 20 million. (Humane Society)

  • There is an average 72-hour window of hope for an animal left at a shelter to be found and returned. (Rescue Paw Foundation)

  • 28% of dogs and 31% of cats are adopted out of shelters each year. (Humane Society)

  • In 2020, people spent $99 billion on their pets. (PetPedia)

  • 96% of Americans report a moral duty to protect animals and states should support laws that do so. (The No Kill Advocacy Center)

  • In 2020, 32% fewer dogs and 23% fewer cats entered animal shelters, and euthanasia decreased by -44%. (Spots)

Another lost kitten with little chance of ever finding a home    

My cat Sabrina as a 6 week old kitten, she was homeless and found in Miami. She is lucky to have found a home but millions more will never be that lucky.

Easy way to provide shelter

Here is a simple way to provide some shelter for outdoor cats that don’t have a building to go to.  I used a wood pallet that I found at a local crafts store (Michael’s).  I cut up a waterproof tarp to cover it both inside and out.  This provides a dry place from rain and snow but also from wind.  I covered the box with duct tape which is durable and strong and would keep the tarp in place.  You can find both tarps and duct tape at any hardware store and online.  I cut up an old doormat for the inside to provide some softness, 


Once completed just put outside against a tree or hard structure to keep it in place. The box needs to be placed on its side so the opening is facing forward not up. To lure cats who might be cautious place some food next to the box and natural curiosity combined with a love of all things boxes will coax them to try it.  This is just one idea but you can get creative and have fun helping homeless cats.


Here is the box shelter covered with a waterproof tarp


Duct tape is strong and durable

A doormat provides some comfort for sleeping cats

Organizations that can help

Here are some national/regional nonprofits working to improve the lives of feral and homeless cats.  As always do your research about any group before donating or volunteering as some organizations are not always as they appear.  I’ve written extensively about HSUS and the ASPCA and how they have hundreds of millions but do very little in reality for animals.  You can read about them here (the article is about the wild horse issue but at the end shows the tax filings of these 2 nonprofits to have assets over ½ billion).


I personally have only heard good things about Alley Cat Allies and Best Friends and assume they pass the snuff test.

Best Friends

Alley Cat Allies 

Forgotten Cats 

Stray Cat Project 


PLEASE neuter or spay your pets

As you have just read the problem of homeless cats is staggering but IS fixable.  In the meantime you can provide some much needed shelter for them.  If you would like to help further you can volunteer at your local animal shelter or rescue, help transport rescued animals to their new homes, fundraise, educate those around you about the problem.

It’s said that most people always assume someone else will fix the problem. If everyone thinks that way no one will step up. That someone needed to step up is YOU.

up is YOU.

Please help stop the homeless cat problem and in the meantime provide some much needed shelter for them.  You are their last hope.

Also published on All-creatures on January 8, 2023

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1 comentario

McKenna Grace Fisher
McKenna Grace Fisher
06 ene

~ Brilliant article ~ Thank you for penning ~ No Animals need to suffer alone and on the streets ~ Spay and Neuter are necessary to end the multiple Cats without homes ~ Thank you ~ Vegan for the Animals ~ mgfⓋ ~ #veganfortheanimals

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