Cece and Jett – fast becoming … distant aquaintances. … Three weeks ago one of Cece’s aunts was allowed to wander off into the woods, as folks were moving out of the apartment, under the gun so to speak. She is now, if not dead, one of the millions of homeless cats in America. Like them, she is relying on neighbors for water, food and shelter. pic:R.T.
We repost this excellent Deb Young piece on caring for homeless cats in wintertime, just in case you want to do the beautiful thing and help stray and homeless felines in your neck of the inner-city woods! Also: Check out Deb’s terrific help-circus-animals FB page on this website. You’ll learn so much about nature and wild animals! – R.T.
By Deb Young
Street cats, alley cats, wild cats, feral cats, homeless cats … there are a lot of different names we give to these free ranging felines. Most of the time, they take care of themselves, scavenging and hunting for their meals while also depending on the kindnesses of cat lovers, but things can get worse when the weather turns frigid.
In any neighborhood that supports a healthy (i.e, neutered and released) feral cat population, rodent populations are kept in check, eliminating the need for harmful chemicals and poisons, and protecting the residents of these neighborhoods from the diseases and damage rodents can cause to life and property. Cats are a practical and “green” solution to this universal problem. In addition, a family and neighborhood commitment to caring for a controlled feral cat population teaches our children that we respect life and appreciate the work these cats do for us.
This is why many animal supporters encourage community participation in maintaining their local feral cat population. If you count yourself amongst these supporters, there are ways you can help your local cats to get through the winter with a minimum of hardship. If you can get your neighbors involved, so much the better.
Cats don’t need a lot of space, just a space that is large enough for them to stand and move about and stay safe from the harshest outdoor elements. When the weather is at its coldest, the cats will be relying on each other for warmth, and will create their own tight spaces within their shelter. With that in mind, you can use whatever space and materials available to you to create a small haven.
Homemade shelters can be crafted out of nearly anything: from a sturdy cardboard box (think of the heavy cardboard used for packing television sets) to an anchored plastic garbage can to a few pieces of scrap wood that have been arranged as a buffer against the wind and snow and rain. The shelter should be large enough to accommodate several cats comfortably, but not too wide or tall. In fact, the smaller the size, the better the space will be equipped to retain the cats’ body heat.
Finally, be sure to locate the shelter in a safe, concealed spot where the cats feel securely hidden from predators and can watch their surroundings.
The cats will require extra calories and fat during the cold weather months in order to maintain their energy requirements. Canned cat foods are also a great source of high calorie nutrition, but because of their higher liquid content they may freeze during the coldest temperatures.
Feeding the cats at the same time each day will allow them to expect and rely on a schedule. If they do not know whether they will be eating or not, they will venture out into the cold to look for food, defeating the whole purpose for the care project. Having a dedicated “feeder,” or a small group of scheduled “feeders” who take turns, can make the process much smoother. Also important to the cats’ survival is fresh, clean water. Of course, snow is an excellent source for water, but don’t forget to check the water bowl regularly to make sure it hasn’t frozen during the night.
Feeding and water stations should be protected from the cold and placed as near to the sleeping shelter as possible so that the cats do not have to be exposed to harsh conditions when they need to eat or drink.
While the cats may not be able to thank you in ways you can understand, you will know that they have repaid your kindness with the absence of rodents, and you will know that it is all worth it.
Hearty Vegetable Soup
Nothing can cure the winter cold quite like a big bowl of piping-hot vegetable soup. So the next time you’re looking for a dish that will keep you feeling warm, full, and satisfied, whip up a batch of this hearty soup.
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 medium white onion, diced
1 Tbsp. dried basil
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp. olive oil
32 oz. vegetable broth
28 oz. canned diced tomatoes, with juice
14 oz. canned white beans, drained and rinsed
2 small zucchini, sliced
2 small yellow crookneck squash, sliced
3 cups chopped kale
4 small purple potatoes, cut into cubes
2 small yellow potatoes, cut into cubes
2 small red potatoes, cut into cubes
6 cups water
In a large pot, sauté the garlic, onion, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper in the oil for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent.
Add the broth, tomatoes with juice, beans, zucchini, squash, kale, and potatoes. Cover the pot and bring to a boil.
Lower the heat. Add the water in batches, stirring occasionally.
Simmer for about an hour, or until you can easily pierce a potato with a fork.
Serve immediately. Store the remainder in the refrigerator or freezer.
Makes 10 to 12 servings
Mexican Noodle Soup
By Ashley Palmer
This noodle soup was inspired by our growing PETA Latino community! The popular Mexican dish, referred to as “sopa de fideo,” is versatile and can be altered to your liking. Want a thicker base, spicier flavor, or splash of lemon juice? No problem!
4–6 large tomatoes, cut into large cubes
1 medium white onion, cut into large cubes
1 clove garlic
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 16 oz.-pkg. cut fideo or 1 16 oz.-pkg. angel hair pasta, broken into 1-inch pieces
32 oz. vegetable broth
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 Tbsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. oregano
2 Tbsp. cumin
Chili flakes, chopped serrano chilies, or diced jalapeños, to taste (optional)
Cilantro, soy sour cream, and sliced avocado, for garnish (optional)
In a blender, purée the tomatoes, onions, garlic, and oil. Transfer to a large pot and cook over medium heat.
Add the noodles, broth, salt, pepper, oregano, and cumin. For a spicier soup, add the chili flakes, serrano chilies, or jalapeños. Cook for approximately 12 to 15 minutes, then simmer until the noodles are tender.
Garnish with optional toppings, as desired.
Makes 10 to 12 servings
Coconut Curry Soup
The list of ingredients might seem a little long, but don’t be scared. You can leave out an ingredient or two, and the soup will still be delicious. The only required items on the list below are the coconut milk, a little salt, and some curry powder, if you ask me. The rest is up to you.
To make a more filling meal, try serving the soup over noodles — udon, soba and even budget-friendly ramen work very well.
And to spice up the dish, add a few drops of Sriracha to the broth after ladling it out.
1 cup broccoli florets
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 carrot, julienned
3 white button mushrooms, sliced
1 12-oz. can coconut milk
1 cup vegetable broth
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. Madras curry powder
Perfect tofu (optional)
1 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
•Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Add the broccoli and cook for 1 minute. Drain and set aside.
•In a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat, add the olive oil then the onions. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, or until just soft. Add the garlic, carrot, mushrooms, and cooked broccoli and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
•Add the coconut milk and broth to the pan and stir well. Add the lime juice, salt, and curry powder, then let simmer for about 5 minutes, being careful not to let the soup boil.
•Remove from heat and serve the soup with perfect tofu and chopped cilantro.
Makes 4 servings
And a tune for you! This year posted during November! – R.T.