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The Myth of the Emergency Exit

Why isn't there a second or "emergency" exit from the upper, "bedroom" area? Won't the cats be attacked by raccoons, foxes, possums, badgers, etc. while in the shelter?
 
This is a persistent myth and we've spent considerable time studying this question. Having been involved heavily in TNR for the last 10+ years, I can honestly say that I have never seen or heard of a cat being attacked in a Feralvilla shelter.

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).
  • Although it would be possible to engineer and install an emergency exit that would maintain the integrity of the insulated, wind & water-proof bedroom area, there are significant problems:
  1. It would be costly to custom engineer, build and install a reliable and durable insulated cat flap-type door that will keep out wind, rain, snow and cold effectively.
  2. Many cats don't understand how to use a cat "flap" without training, which is impractical for feral cats.
  3. The only exit that a cat will be guaranteed to understand how to use without training is a simple hole.
  4. A simple hole directly into the bedroom would completely negate the protections against wind and outside attack afforded to the cat by our design.
  5. In many parts of the country, cold and wet weather are a far greater and more predictable threat to the cats than attack by an animal small enough to enter the shelter.
For these reasons, we don't offer an "emergency exit", nor do we recommend the installation of an emergency exit in our shelters.

Of course, a cat living outdoors will ALWAYS be at risk. It may be possible to custom design a shelter that would address all the possible hazards a cat might face in a particular region. Such a shelter would be costly, heavy and virtually impossible to ship.

If you feel you need such a shelter and have the means to have it built, that's tremendous. We're always happy when cats are afforded protection. But the 15 years of experience with our design suggests that the majority of situations are served very well by the Feralvilla shelter.