A woman from La Coulee who works at PetVet in Steinbach is building and giving away warming shelters to people who want to help the stray cats in their neighbourhoods stay warm. 

It all started three years ago, when Laura Ode noticed stray cats around her property. She wanted to find a good way to care for them. 

She couldn’t take them in as she already has a full house with several pets of her own, but she came across videos online on how to make feral and stray cat shelters. 

Last year, when she was living in Niverville, she built and gave away 50 shelters to people in her community.  

So far this year she has given away 35 shelters, and says she currently has another 20 to go.

“There's such a huge demand for all these strays out here, it's insane, so I'm hoping to keep going as long as I keep getting supplies,” she says. “As long as there's a demand for them, I'm happy to make them.” 

A cat in front of a tower of warming shelters

Ode herself has four regular strays that are staying in her garage. 

“There's a cat door, they come and go, but I've got the shelter set up outside as well with food and water for them.” 

Supplies are donated to her through Best West Pet Foods in Steinbach, Steinbach PetVet, and most recently, people supporting her cause on Facebook. 

“It's awesome, everyone's trying to help each other. It's wonderful.” 

Ode explains the basics of how she makes the shelters.

She puts a hole in the Styrofoam for an entrance, and another hole for an exit in case an animal comes in and the cat has to escape quickly. 

A cat in a warming shelter

She adds in extra Styrofoam on the bottom, so there's about two to three inches of Styrofoam the whole way around. Ode says it's pretty warm if it's in a secluded area away from the rain.  

“I fill it with straw, so the straw keeps them nice and warm. It keeps their body heat and that is what heats the container, and then I just wrap it with the garbage bag to try and keep it waterproof. It's pretty easy, it's just a bit time-consuming to get it all together.” 

Ode builds both small shelters and big shelters depending on the size of containers she receives. 

“The smaller containers that are given to me, they tend to go to people who have one or two strays because the smaller the space, the easier for the cat to warm up the shelter themselves,” she says. “But there's been such demand for pregnant cats and kittens, it's actually quite painful to hear people’s stories. I must have given at least 15 of the larger ones for pregnant cats.” 

She says it’s great to see such a large community effort to make sure these stray cats are taken care of. 

“I'm really impressed with the amount of people that have stepped up to say they really want one. People are caring for strays that are out there. And if people just spay and neuter, we can hopefully get the population under control, but people are doing everything they can, and I am wanting to help as much as I can.” 

If you are in need of a cat shelter for a stray or feral cat, or if you have supplies you can donate, you can contact Laura Ode on Facebook or email odelaura@outlook.com.

A cat in a warming shelter


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