Food/Water & Discretion
It's imperative that you provide the cats with daily food, clean water and adequate shelter. Winter brings shelter needs to a very high priority as temperatures drop. But they also will use the shelters during storms in all seasons.
Not everyone likes cats and some people even seek out to harm them, so keep that in mind when feeding and providing shelter for your cats. It's always best to place feeding stations and shelters out of public view and camouflaging them when possible.
Keep the area CLEAN. Never leave paper plates and tins lying out and around as it attracts attention that there is feeding involved and can attract unwanted wildlife.
Be discrete and as invisible as possible when you are feeding, and most important of all: do not tell people about your colony of cats! You are probably asking "Why NOT?" There are several reasons we recommend keeping quiet about your colony of cats:
People may dump other cats in your colony if they know there are other cats in the area.
Some may wish to do harm to the cats.
Some people just like to cause problems.
Taking care of a colony of cats can be outstandingly rewarding. Seeing their attentive little faces come to greet you every day and extend their hard-won trust is a reward in itself. We recommend that you care for your colony with a partner or two when possible. Having one or two other people to help with the daily feeding is beneficial to both you as the provider and to the colony of cats. First, it allows you to be flexible with your schedule. If you cannot commit to a particular day of feeding, then maybe another person can. Also, it is always great to have a different set of eyes out there. What you may not have observed one day, another provider may have seen on a different day.
Finally, MAINTAIN your colony. Be observant and look for a new cat that may have wandered into your area. Don't get upset about the new addition, simply trap the newcomer immediately and spay/neuter. Many times, wandering unneutered males wander very far looking for mates and will wander into your colony. Most of the time, once they are neutered, they stick closer to wherever their home base is.
Important: NEVER place food in or near your shelters. Foxes and raccoons may try to get into the shelter for the food and could attack your cats. Always keep the food station as far as possible from your shelter.
For great detailed tips, visit Alley Cat Allies' guide on feeding.