Last winter, I learned, much to my horror, that the cats will go to the feeding station no matter how much snow is on the ground. It turned out that the self-feeders I put next to their shelters were there to help me cope, not them. They trudged right by them, in snow up to their chests, to get to the feeding station because that's where they're "supposed" to eat. Cats really are creatures of habit, no matter what the weather's like.
I love my feral cats so much they can make my heart ache. When I think about another cold winter, my first thought is to trap them and bring them home. But they would be miserable here, even if they could go outside. And they'd be terrified. When we rescue or take on the responsibility of caring for animals, we need to think about what they want, not what we want for them. My beloved ferals want to stay where they are in their home in the woods, no matter how cold and snowy it gets.
My little colony dispels many of the cruel myths about feral cats. One is that feral cats live short, miserable lives. The cats in my colony are 15 years old, and they're anything but miserable. Feral cats are diseased, people say. But my cats have never been sick a day in their lives and at 15 are still beautiful and the picture of health. Over the years, the other feeders and I have been willing and able to address the neighbors' concerns, so the cats have never been a nuisance.
Would you like to know more about feral cats? Here's lots of information. If you're a feral cat caretaker, I hope you'll read it and use it as talking points. Together, through community education, we can save lives.