Lindy Anderson of Savannah, Missouri, is a self-described crazy cat lady, but her love for the furry animals doesn’t end with her own six cats. She’s on a mission to keep as many stray cats as possible warm over the cold months.
“A few years ago in the winter time, something started bothering me, just thinking about the animals outside and seeing some of the cats around the neighborhood and thinking how cold they probably are,” Anderson said. “Animals freeze to death and it just killed me.”
So, she decided to do something about it. After a bit of research, Anderson landed on shelters made of Styrofoam coolers stuffed with straw and fitted with a cat-sized cutout. Anderson gives the shelters away for free to anyone who wants to keep a stray cat warm.
“The first year we did probably 25 or 30 and I posted it on Facebook, and every year it just grew and grew and grew,” she said. “Last year we did over 200.”
While Anderson had the idea for the boxes, it wouldn’t be possible to make them without the help of her husband, Kevin Anderson, and son, Aidan Churchwell. The straw Anderson uses is provided by a coworker, and close friends lend their trailer for hauling the coolers. And there’s help with the actual construction of the shelters, as well.
“The first year it was just the three of us doing it, last year we had six or eight volunteers and this year we had the biggest turnout with 10 or 14 people,” Anderson said.
While Anderson doesn’t charge for the shelters, donations are welcome, and she was was able to buy this year’s materials with last year’s donations. The demand is great and every person who picks up a shelter expresses gratitude, although she said the people who “come up, pick up a shelter, feed the cats, make sure it stays warm and dry” deserve the real recognition.
Talia Logan saw Anderson’s Facebook post about the cat shelters and stopped by Wednesday night to pick up a box for a stray cat she takes care of.
“I think it’s awesome because if we take care of the population and do things like feed them, spay them, neuter them, the pests are cut down and you know they need to be warm, too,” Logan said. “It’s heartbreaking to find a frozen animal outside, whether it’s a cat or even a opossum.”
Anderson hopes to continually increase the numbers of shelters every year. While she is out of boxes for now, Anderson is happy to share instructions for building one’s own cat shelter with anyone who contacts her via Facebook.