Unlike feral cats, stray cats cannot entirely survive on their own — they still need the kindness and generosity of humans to stay alive. This is why many cat lovers always think about the welfare of these homeless felines. If you are one of them, you may be wondering: Where do stray cats go during the day, and are they alright when it’s stormy or wintry?
Because stray cats don’t like both water and low temperatures, they go where they can be protected. Some of them perch on tree branches, while others hide underneath bushes, junk piles, awnings, and vehicles. Stray cats also seek shelter inside abandoned buildings, garages, and garden sheds.
It’s not the fault of stray cats if they are not as resilient as their feral counterparts.
After all, some of them just failed to find their way back home after wandering off, while others were deliberately abandoned by their owners.
Fortunately, even though stray cats are not entirely accustomed to living outdoor lives, there are many places that they can go to during the day for their own safety and protection, especially when it’s raining or storming or during the coldest months of the year.
Below, we will talk about some of these places that stray cats tend to seek shelter in.
But First: Why Cats Hate Water and the Cold
It’s very rare for you to come across a stray cat when it’s raining.
That’s because these free-roaming felines don’t like getting themselves wet.
It’s all because of the fact that their wild cat ancestors lived in dry, arid places where there’s not a lot of water to encounter or surmount, which is ironic because they absolutely loved fish.
One more reason why cats abhor water is that they spend a great deal of their time grooming themselves and getting wet puts their effort to waste in an instant.
However, some cats love water, such as the Turkish Van, a cat breed that’s also known as the “swimming cat”.
Besides getting wet, cats also hate getting cold, which is why they often take a trip to dreamland in direct sunlight or on or right next to home appliances that generate heat, such as radiators and refrigerators.
And since their wild cat ancestors lived where it’s toasty, it doesn’t come as a surprise why cats tolerate heat better than their barking rivals.
It’s because of this why cats will look for warm places when the temperatures drop. Stray cats will protect themselves from the cold by looking for places where it’s not as freezing.
Felines may have fur alright, which also protects them from too much heat, but they still need to look for warm areas during the wintertime.
We now know some of the reasons why cats hate both water and the cold, but where do stray cats go during the day, especially if it’s too wet or freezing for them? Read on to know where stray cats go for protection.
Places Stray Cats Go During the Day
Some stray cats love dipping their paws in water.
It’s all because of the fact that their wild cat ancestors sought moving bodies of water such as streams and rivers as stagnant water is usually laden with disease-causing microbes. And to determine whether a body of water is moving or not, wild cats dip their paws into it.
While there are stray cats that don’t mind getting their paws wet, there are also those that hate it.
These stray cats will not hesitate to climb up trees where they can keep their paws dry. If it’s really rainy or cold, they will look for trees with the thickest canopies and the most number of branches.
Although cats are very good at climbing up trees, they are not very good at climbing down trees.
It’s for this reason why you may see a stray cat up a tree for a while, even if it’s no longer raining or freezing cold. A little cat food can encourage the stray cat to do its best to try climbing down the tree.
Bushes or Shrubs
Especially if the weather is not that inclement, many stray cats will find staying under bushes more than enough to keep their coat from becoming soaking wet.
Stray cats may also hide inside shrubs to protect themselves from the cold.
Unlike climbing up trees, hiding inside shrubs allows them to easily hunt for food or look for water every now and again.
Sometimes, they don’t even have to leave their chosen shrubs as many bugs, which stray cats eat, too, bury themselves in the soil in winter.
By the way, it’s not just when it’s raining or freezing that stray cats will spend some time under bushes.
They will do the same when the temperatures are incredibly high. A temperature of more than 90°F is too hot for most stray cats, although it will still depend on various factors such as the breed and age.
Nothing can protect stray cats from the rain and snow and low temperatures more than sheet metal, plywood, old pieces of furniture and scrap car parts.
It’s because of this why free-roaming cats feel safe and secure hiding under junk piles, especially if they can no longer stand the cold.
Besides, it’s no secret that cats, in general, love squeezing their furry bodies into tight spaces.
If you suspect that there is a stray cat hiding in piles of junk on your property and wish to offer it food and water, refrain from shifting around the items to look for it.
That’s because the pile could collapse, possibly crushing and injuring the stray cat that has found refuge beneath it.
Placing a strong-smelling food near any potential entry or exit point is the best way to encourage the animal to come out of the junk pile.
One of the nicest things about awnings is that they are both decorative and functional. These supplemental roofs or covers are highly beneficial not only for humans but stray cats, too.
There are a couple of reasons why many stray cats prefer to seek solace underneath awnings.
First, it provides protection from the rain.
One of the reasons why awnings are attached to the exteriors of homes is to keep anyone from standing underneath them from getting wet. Whenever it’s pouring, awnings are some of the most accessible shields from the rain for stray cats.
Second, staying underneath awnings allow stray cats to have increased chances of having food and water.
After all, awnings are usually installed over windows and doors, and being underneath them can make it easy for them to be spotted by people, including cat lovers that won’t hesitate to put out food for them.
It’s not uncommon for stray cats in urban settings to have a hard time looking for natural protection from the elements such as bushes and trees.
The good news is that there is an abundance of cars beneath which they can hide. The engines also offer stray cats from the cold weather.
While vehicles can provide stray cats protection from the storm or cold alright, unfortunately, they are some of the most dangerous temporary lodgings for any stray cats.
If you think that a stray cat could be hiding in your car’s engine, refrain from starting your engine to keep the animal from getting injured. What you should do instead is tap on the hood a few times to wake up and warn any stray cats or other small animals.
However, this may leave the stray cat too frightened to leave your car.
Many car owners and cat lovers prefer to lure stray cats out of their cars with strong-smelling food.
Besides cars, stray cats also love going to garages whenever they need to feel safe and protected.
Garages are the perfect shelters for them since they offer defense from the elements, which is the same reason why people park their cars in garages — to maintain the beautiful appearance of their prized possessions.
Some garages are dark and cluttered, which makes them even more irresistible to stray cats.
Inside boxes and damaged pieces of furniture, underneath tables and worktables, behind piles of books or old clothes — there is never a shortage of hiding places in garages.
Then, there is also the fact that stray cats can also seek shelter in the undercarriages or engines of cars, which we just talked about above.
This is why if you just adopted a cat and you cannot seem to find it, your garage is one of the best answers to the question, “where do stray cats go during the day or at any other given time?”
Tool or Garden Sheds
Just like garages, tool and garden sheds are some of the best accommodations for stray cats. Inside sheds, there are simply so many spots for them to stay in, especially during inclement weather.
When it’s raining hard or the temperatures plummet, stray cats feel stressed.
And when stray cats are stressed out, they look for dark and quiet places where they can lower their stress levels until the time that the weather outside goes back to normal and they can resume their everyday activities outside.
Sheds located far away from main houses are some of the best hiding places for stray cats trying to steer clear of getting wet or feeling cold because they are far enough to be disturbed by humans.
Still, they are near enough to humans to make it easy for stray cats to beg for food if they cannot find food on their own.
Even if stray cats do not need to be shielded from the elements, tool and garden sheds make for some excellent shelters, especially for those who have just stepped foot into the world of being stray felines.
Many stray cats head straight to abandoned buildings not only when it’s raining or cold but also at any other given time, especially when they want to feel like they have homes.
There are many reasons why abandoned buildings are some of the best shelters for stray cats.
For one, there is no human activity, although stray cats do not really mind interacting with humans, unlike feral cats. It’s also less likely for stray cats to encounter their natural predators in abandoned buildings, such as eagles, hawks, and owls.
And because the walls of abandoned buildings help dampen the sound that inclement weather makes, stray cats tend to feel less stressed and anxious in them.
Stray cats, by the way, love the fact that abandoned buildings allow them to carry out their love for exploring. However, it’s exactly because of this why missing cats can be extremely difficult to find by their respective owners when they end up in abandoned buildings.
How Can You Help Stray Cats Survive
It can be quite impossible to turn feral cats into indoor cats.
Because they are not used to interacting with humans, turning feral cats into pets can be extremely stressful not only for these whiskered creatures but also for those who would like to welcome them into their homes.
Stray cats, on the other hand, can be turned into pets without much trouble. After all, they were once pets — their previous experiences can make it trouble-free for them to become pets once again.
The number of stray cats in the US, unfortunately, is estimated to be at 70 million.
Since you cannot adopt all of them, you can at least try to make the lives of a tiny fraction of them better by making their days go smoother, especially during inclement weather. When it’s really stormy or cold, even feral cats could use any help available from humans.
You may also take the ones that you come across on the street or pay your property a visit to animal shelters to have them spayed and neutered, thus keeping more stray cats from suffering unnecessarily outdoors.
In the meantime, here are some of the things that you may do to keep stray cats dry and warm…
- Welcome them to your property. Something as simple as leaving the garage window slightly open or the door of the tool shed ajar is more than enough to keep stray cats protected from getting wet or cold. Feral cats may also be enticed to grab your offer — worry not, as they will go once the weather is better.
- Come up with a makeshift shelter. Are there old storage boxes or cabinets lying around? Together with a bunch of other materials such as plywood, corrugated boards, polystyrene and sheet metal, you can create a temporary shelter for stray cats. Usually, having minimal DIY skills and creativity is all that’s needed.
- Create a dry resting spot. No matter if it’s an existing structure on your property or a shelter that you made from scratch that stray cats may use, check that there is a spot where they are protected from flooding. For instance, you may install wooden pallets or place upside-down plastic crates on the floor.
- Put out wet or dry cat food. Cats, in general, need more food when it’s rainy or wintry because lots of calories are required to keep them warm. This is why it’s a nice idea to provide stray cats with food. While it’s completely fine to offer them wet cat food, dry cat food is better as it won’t freeze. Dry cat food won’t spoil quickly, too.
- Install a heated pet water bowl. Besides staying nourished, it’s also important for stray cats to stay well-hydrated during inclement weather. Especially if you live where winter is seriously cold, consider getting your hands on a heated pet water bowl — water in a regular pet bowl placed outdoors will turn rock-hard.
- Turn them into indoor pets. Since stray cats have been pets in the past, it can be easy to turn them into pets once again. If you have been planning on adopting cats for some time now, it’s during a storm or the coldest months of the year when it’s the perfect time to change the lives of homeless cats looking for homes.
Just Before You Start Saving Stray Cats
Stray cats may not be as well-versed with living outdoors as feral cats. However, they are still related to wild cats like all domestic cats, feral and indoor or pet cats, which means that they have innate hunting skills.
Despite this, stray cats find it extremely challenging to survive when there’s inclement weather — they don’t like it when it’s raining or the temperatures drop.
Whenever it’s stormy or wintry, they head to different places to keep themselves from getting wet or ending up hypothermic.
Above, we talked about the different places that cats go to when they need to protect themselves from the elements.
Knowing where stray cats usually go to seek temporary shelter can help cat lovers like you to know where to look for them so that you can give them nutritious food to eat and clean water to drink.
By knowing where stray cats tend to hide away from the rain, flood, snow, hail or low temperatures, you can lend a hand ASAP without wasting any of your resources.
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of The Pet Rescue.