Boxing Day: Your unwanted Styrofoam Christmas packaging could become home for feral cats

Homeward Bound Waggin

| Photo courtesy of Homeward Bound Waggin'

QUINCY — The presents have been opened, and it’s time to clean up the disaster of wrapping paper and boxes.

Before tossing it all in the garbage, Homeward Bound Waggin’ is asking people to save any kinds of Styrofoam coolers or packaging that might be useful for feral cats.

“There are a lot of places, and especially now with the holidays, that are shipping food and gifting foods,” said Meredith Rutherford, a volunteer with Homeward Bound Waggin’, an animal rescue and shelter based out of Quincy. “My other job is with UPS, and everybody has been ordering the honey-baked ham from Dot Foods. They are packed in some pretty serious Styrofoam things.

“We are looking for materials to make shelters for feral cats. The most economical things available are Styrofoam coolers — the cheap ones you pick up at the gas station before you fill it with ice and drinks and head to the beach. We’re somewhat having a little bit of a hard time finding them because of the season, so that’s why we’re looking for alternatives.”

Rutherford said the minimum size for Styrofoam packaging would be 24 inches by 12 inches.

“The bigger they are, the more cats can get inside,” she said. “When it gets really cool, (cats) try to pack in as tight as they can. Their own body heat is contributing warmth as well.”

Other packing material that might be useful for the shelter are used to protect medications or anything that’s requires refrigeration.

Homeward Bound Waggin’ uses three-millimeter waterproof contractor’s trash bags and water-resistant duct tape to line the homes created for the cats.

“Hopefully, the shelters will last several winters for the people we’re giving them to,” Rutherford said. 

Once Homeward Bound Waggin’ has a few shelters ready for the public, they don’t last long.

“Anytime we post them on our Facebook page, they’re usually gone within hours,” Rutherford said. “We already have 22 people on a waiting list to get them, and many of them are requesting multiples because they’re caring for colonies of cats. It’s not just one or two cats stopping by their house to eat. It’s a whole community of cats that they’re feeding and caring for.

“We’ll make as many shelters as we can get Styrofoam for, because there is a huge need for them.”

Anyone with packaging material that might be useful can be taken to the shelter’s facility at 1800 N. 24th or to the shelter’s adoption center at the Quincy Town Center from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. People also can reach out to the shelter on Facebook to set a time to meet one of the volunteers.

“There’s no staff at the building,” volunteer Ronna Robertson said. “A lot of people don’t understand that we have volunteers going out there to take care of the animals. We’re not open to the public just to come in.”

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