COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — With freezing temperatures predicted for the days ahead, dogs and cats left outdoors without shelter will face a risk of hypothermia. But while pet owners can simply let their animals inside, feral cats don’t have this option. Paws Humane Society Executive Director Courtney Pierce said they have ways of making it through freezing weather but can use a little help.

Many feral cats, she said, will go into sewers or cuddle with each other when it’s cold. A lot of people who feed them provide shelters for them. Pierce doesn’t recommend leaving shelters in public places.

“Cats are very, very savvy,” she said. “And again, most of them have caregivers. They’re not just existing on their own … So they do have places that they go.”

Pierce said an outreach team at Paws Humane Society takes donations to build insulated cat shelters that it passes out to caregivers for free.

“If they don’t have the resources to get something on their own, we will have that available most of the time,” she said. “They can request that and pick one up.”

The shelters are given out on a first come, first served basis.

“And we’ll make them from, like, the Rubbermaid bins, like you would store stuff, and foam insulation,” she said. “… We have volunteers that help us put them together.”

Pierce said she wasn’t sure how many shelters Paws Humane Society currently has on hand but said there were a few.

If you want to make your own shelter, she said the cheapest way to do it is to get a Rubbermaid storage container, cut Styrofoam to fit inside the container and cut a small hole through both materials to allow cats to get in and out of the shelter.

“And that does at least block the wind, and it’s slightly insulated,” Pierce said. “The best option is to provide some sort of heat source. So like a heat lamp like people use for chicken coops to keep their chickens warm. That works.”

Pierce said a heat lamp wouldn’t work with the plastic Rubbermaid shelter and that it would be better to use in a wooden shelter.

“But they also make heated padding that you can plug up outside so you can put it in, you know, any sort of homemade shelter that you make,” she said. “You can add that as a heat source.”

Pierce said hay or straw is better than a blanket for insulation. She explained that if a blanket gets wet or moist, it can become colder.