Message posted to Facebook Dec 13, 2019
Maybe it's 'cuz I live in Wisconsin, but I have NEVER heard of an outdoor shelter for strays/ferals with more than one entrance. Image may contain: cat My Feral FixLike Page Yesterday at 6:56 AM · FAQ: Should I add an “emergency” exit to my cat's shelter? Won't cats be attacked by predators while in the shelter?
My Feral Fix builds feral cat shelters with a single entrance/exit to retain heat in the shelter. A small opening (5”) helps to deter predators from entering. Winters in Wisconsin are bitterly cold; if we add a second opening we would be creating a wind tunnel and greatly reduce the primary goal of the shelter: keeping a cat from freezing to death. In other parts of the country you may not have the brutal cold to worry about and maybe 2 entrances would be best for your cats.
We contacted Greg, the owner of Feralvilla.com to ask his opinion about one vs two entrances. He has been involved in TNR for 10+ years in Indiana, and also builds the world’s best-selling outdoor cat shelter. Here’s Greg’s email reply to our question about whether a feral cat shelter needs an emergency exit
“This is a persistent myth and we've spent considerable time studying this question. Here's what we know:
▪️By choice, many cats prefer to nest or sleep inside containers or dens with only a single way in or out. This means that nothing can come in behind them while they're sleeping. Multiple entrances into a sleeping area means multiple directions from which an attack could come, especially if the entrance is directly into the sleeping area.
▪️Cats and similar sized animals generally refrain from attacking each other for the simple fact that they can get badly injured as well.
▪️Most fight-related injuries are related to mating and territory with other cats. These are dramatically reduced when the cats have been spayed/neutered.
▪️In the cases of attacks by raccoons or similar-sized animals, there are usually baby animals or scarce food involved and there are heightened protective instincts. These attacks occur while the cat is out exploring or patrolling and not in the shelter.
▪️Attacks by larger animals like dogs or coyotes mostly occur in the open, or in a poorly-designed shelter with an outside opening directly into the sleeping area (i.e. no place to hide).
“Very big-hearted folks are naturally wanting to mitigate all risk cats face outdoors. But living outdoors always comes with risks for cats. So what's a person to do? Mitigate the biggest and most dangerous risks first. In states that have cold winters, cold weather is a HUGE risk. In the years that we were very active in TNR (on the order of 10's of thousands of cats around central Indiana), we saw and heard so many stories of cats disappearing in the winter. We saw so many with frostbitten ears, paws or tails, or cats that lost body parts due to frostbite. Lack of shelter in winter is an almost guaranteed killer.
While attacks by animals in an enclosed space are a risk, they are, from our experience, very infrequent and of much less severity than the hazards of exposure to the elements in the winter. Perhaps people who live in warmer climates, or with a much different kind of wild animal population have different issues, and would require a different shelter. That's fine for them, but our shelters need to keep the cats from freezing to death or suffering terrible injuries in winter…first and foremost. Other features are fine as long as they don't compromise the shelter's ability to protect the cat from the elements. Most shelters with multiple entrances cause a lot more problems with exposure to the elements than the problem they set out to solve.”
© FeralVilla, shared with permission
📷: FeralVilla outdoor cat shelter. It’s a 2-level design; cats enter through the opening at the bottom and pass through a windbreak and go up through an opening to a fully-insulated bedroom.