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Columbia residents making stray cat shelters for cold months

If you find a feral cat or litter of kittens in your backyard, you can help them survive the winter with a few easy steps.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Everyone needs a shelter, a home, or even a temporary home ... and that includes stray cats right here in the Midlands.

"They have those for situations like today where it's pouring rain," cat shelter creator Claire Becraft said. "It helps keep them out of places like crawl spaces. 

"Also, real young kittens will sometimes crawl up and get in car engines and you won't know." Becraft said. That's why on cold and rainy days, it's good to get into the habit of knocking on the hood of your car to make sure there are no stray cats underneath before turning the engine on. 

RELATED: Here's how you can help stray cats as the weather gets colder

Local cat shelter creators say it's best to use wheat straw inside the shelters because it deflects moisture and can stay for about six months before having to be changed out. They're sometimes lined with cardboard underneath, too, and often placed in a discreet area, off the beaten path.

"I will drill a hole in a large, sterilite container, something that's three-feet by two-feet and make a circular entrance on one end and then the same thing on the other end, and duct tape around that," Becraft said. "It is a sharp edge once you cut the hole." 

There are dozens of these shelters all across the area for cats to use, and the materials are pretty affordable, too. 

RELATED: Local humane society needs volunteers to cuddle cats

"She, and myself and a lot of other people will make little shelters from various materials," Jenifer Prince said. "Usually either an actual cooler, an old, unused cooler or we'll make them from plastic tote bins and Styrofoam coolers and we use straw to insulate them."

Don't use blankets or towels, because those can freeze and then stick to the cat. 

"They didn't choose to be left out on the street or born out on the street and if they are a nuisance to us then it's a community problem and as a community it's up to us to deal with it in a humane and kind way," Prince said.

For more details on how to create these shelters, you can visit Pawmetto Lifeline.

RELATED: Adoptable dogs get out of the shelter to be 'spoiled all night' at St. Louis hotel

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