A request from Professor Ceiling Cat

It’s one degree Farenheit
With cold winds outside;
Please give food to the wild beasts
And a warm place to hide.


Notes for the pedants:

1. I’m aware that I’m quoting the temperatures for Chicago and that other places may be colder or warmer
2. If you insist on Celsius temperatures, it’s -17C, but much lower with the wind chill
3. Don’t say a word about killing squirrels


  1. Marella
    Posted January 23, 2014 at 4:53 am | Permalink

    Minus 17C! Holy frozen tail Batman, that’s cold. Poor critters, I would feed them if I could.

  2. scottoest
    Posted January 23, 2014 at 5:13 am | Permalink

    Pff, when I drove to work yesterday up here just north of Toronto, Ontario, it was -32C

    I know someone who had to get expensive repairs done on their car, because their ANTIFREEZE FROZE.

    I’ve never seen temperatures like this, that I can remember. This polar vortex thing is something else.

    • Posted January 23, 2014 at 6:35 am | Permalink

      There are many and complex things involved, too many to put it down to ‘the polar vortex’ alone, for example the Arctic & North Atlantic Oscillations, & various stages of El Nino/La Nina. See for example –
      It is like asking for the cause of the First World War… 🙂
      I think it is fascinating!

    • Posted January 23, 2014 at 6:44 am | Permalink

      Even southwestern Ontario had -31C windchill! My nostrils were sticking together while I was out and about. Good thing for thermal underwear.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 23, 2014 at 8:02 am | Permalink

      Meh. I’m just glad it isn’t snowing hard. There were a bazillion accidents on the way to work & I was half an hour late!

  3. Posted January 23, 2014 at 5:36 am | Permalink

    There was a recent post in Astronomy Picture of the Day about the upper Michigan blizzard of 1938. Zounds, that was a lot of snow!

  4. natalielaberlinoise
    Posted January 23, 2014 at 5:40 am | Permalink

    Don’t know about squirrels, but birds are in dire need of unfrozen water if they are to survive. So besides the food, a water bath, some warm water mixed in regularly, might do a lot of good.
    Can’t believe the cold you are all having to put up with across the Pond!

    • Posted January 23, 2014 at 6:50 am | Permalink

      Thanks for the reminder. I leave out kibble and a water barrel with an ice-melter for the stray cats, but haven’t left something out for the birds besides birdseed (they won’t easily find the cat water barrel in its present location).

      I’ve been leaving out extra birdseed for the bunnies and the odd squirrel too, during this extreme cold.

      • natalielaberlinoise
        Posted January 23, 2014 at 8:38 am | Permalink

        You wouldn’t want your birds to have to use the cat feeding place anyway, or else they might become cat food 😦

        • Posted January 23, 2014 at 10:29 am | Permalink

          Right. They have separate feeding places. I better go try putting out hot water in the bird bath. It won’t stay liquid for long though, but even a couple minutes a day might save lives.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 23, 2014 at 8:03 am | Permalink

      I saw a finch eating slow this morning.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted January 23, 2014 at 8:04 am | Permalink

        LOL snow not slow.

      • natalielaberlinoise
        Posted January 23, 2014 at 8:23 am | Permalink

        They probably use what they can find in terms of a water, but it must take them energy to “warm” the snow to their own body temperature. That means they need more food etc. if the temperatures are abominably cold, I think they will be very grateful for a warmer water source.

  5. Kevin
    Posted January 23, 2014 at 5:41 am | Permalink

    The cold wind in Chicago is brutality incarnate.

  6. Linda Grilli Calhoun
    Posted January 23, 2014 at 5:42 am | Permalink

    We will not get above freezing here today, but it’s a one-day wonder. Back into the 50s by the weekend.

    My squirrels don’t come out when it’s this cold. They wait for it to warm up a little before they emerge. My birds have full feeders and an electrically heated birdbath, and are content.

    I have a large flock of evening grosbeaks that has spent the winter here. Usually they only stay for a few days in late autumn, on their way to somewhere else, but this year they decided that food and water beat warm air.

    BTW, who decided that they should be called EVENING grosbeaks? They ALWAYS show up in the morning, and they’re gone by 3:00 pm. L

    • Achrachno
      Posted January 23, 2014 at 7:40 am | Permalink

      They leave you at 3:00, but that’s just so they can turn up somewhere else in time for evening!

  7. bonetired
    Posted January 23, 2014 at 5:48 am | Permalink

    It is now 280 kelvin
    with the sun still shining through
    even the twittering robin
    with food goes into the blue

  8. Posted January 23, 2014 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    – 6 degrees Fahrenheit in central Iowa / wind chill of – 31.

    I do not .know. how they do it — how the beasties survive IN these temperatures.

    Even with some noms and water, some shelter, I do not .scientifically. know this !

    Ideas ?

    • Linda Grilli Calhoun
      Posted January 23, 2014 at 6:08 am | Permalink

      Birds have a really high metabolism, and if they have enough calories, can keep their body temps up pretty well.

      I have four large feeders and one smaller tube feeder at my bird station. Altogether they hold about ten pounds of seed. When it’s temperate, I refill the feeders every four or five days, maybe once a week when it’s warm.

      But, if it gets really cold, they empty everything in two days.

      We had a polar vortex event here three years ago, two three-day stretches separated by four days of moderate temperatures. The afternoon before the cold hit (-10F), I had a doe deliver two kids. I got them dried off and tucked in before the temperature dropped, and the next morning when I got out to the barn, they were up and running around and fine. The only issue seems to be that they need to stay dry. I had another litter born during the cold weather (+14F), and I brought them into the heated area of the barn and dried them with a hair dryer before putting them back out. I don’t use heat lamps because they terrify me, but the kids have covered boxes deeply bedded in straw, and they keep each other warm.

      I am very grateful for electric water buckets, though. Before I got those, I had two buckets for each pen, and I would put water out in one, and chop the ice out of the other and bring it to a warm place to thaw. I’m glad that is behind me; I’d never go back to unheated buckets. Also, I have a horse that is almost 34 years old, and I’m sure it helps him a lot to have warm water to drink. Even when it got down to -28F, the water was still warm. Great invention! L

    • gravityfly
      Posted January 23, 2014 at 6:09 am | Permalink

      I’m guessing physiological adaptations in the blood…plus their coats of fur/feathers.

  9. bonetired
    Posted January 23, 2014 at 5:50 am | Permalink

    I am, by the way, in the English Midlands!

    • Posted January 23, 2014 at 6:26 am | Permalink

      We have had no winter at all in London – very mild, a few days of light ground frost, & we have surpassed December’s 99mm of rain this morning with a heavy downpour. Signs of spring everywhere people are saying…

  10. ladyatheist
    Posted January 23, 2014 at 6:02 am | Permalink

    Cheap & easy shelters for feral cats: http://www.instructables.com/id/Easy-Winter-Cat-Shelter/?ALLSTEPS

    • Posted January 23, 2014 at 7:01 am | Permalink

      This is very useful info. I made a big cat igloo using an old rubber dog carrier and all kinds of styrofoam bits as well as poly fibre-fill I had lying around. I think I’ll make one of these smaller shelters as a spare. Another cat has very recently shown up.

    • Posted January 23, 2014 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      Oh, I had built another smallish shelter out of a storage bin too, with insulation all around. I used similar instructions to these here:

      A friend of mine goes one step further and set up a heated pet mat on a timer inside his critter shelter. 🙂

  11. Lianne Byram
    Posted January 23, 2014 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    If you feed the deer in my town you’ll get slapped with a $500.00 fine. As far as I know, we’re still allowed to feed birds and squirrels.
    It’s a delightful -30.9 Celsius on my porch at the moment.

    • natalielaberlinoise
      Posted January 23, 2014 at 8:40 am | Permalink

      Why’s the feeding of deer forbidden? Impressive temperatures!

      • Lianne Byram
        Posted January 23, 2014 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

        There are so many of them in town that they present a hazard to drivers. Car accidents involving deer are really common. The powers that be think that feeding the deer will increase the population. I suspect that many people are flouting the ban. Our deer are so fat they look like donkeys!

  12. Posted January 23, 2014 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    This reminds me of last year when it was so cold, and the pond and everything was so frozen that these mother ducks kept coming up to me in the park, seemingly asking for food. I felt so sorry for them.

    They never did this at any other time. I had nothing on me, but some neighbors did bring some food for the hungry ducks.

  13. Allen Linville
    Posted January 23, 2014 at 6:38 am | Permalink

    Cold? It’s going to be +5 C here in Edmonton AB. It’s been a wacky winter here.

  14. Taskin
    Posted January 23, 2014 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    Is that your squirrel on the ledge? What a great pic!

    I have squirrels only occasionally. Someone else in my neighbourhood feeds them peanuts in the shell. I know this because I find caches of peanuts all over my garden each spring.

    It’s -30 C not including wind chill here this morning. Tomorrow it will be -3 C as we get the weather that is currently in Edmonton. Nuts!

  15. Sastra
    Posted January 23, 2014 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    I’m about 3 hours north of Chicago, so yeah. Cold.

    I have a squirrel feeder which I stock regularly — and it’s full now. Well, it’s technically a bird feeder, but I discovered that if I called it a “squirrel feeder” then I would be ever so pleased to see the occasional bird visitors. I don’t ever have to consider how to keep the birds away, for the squirrels always eat plenty.

  16. Posted January 23, 2014 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    Off topic, but only because it’s so cold here I’m seriously considering breaking up with Canada. I haven’t been reading any online journals in almost two months, so apologies if someone already mentioned this video to you, but I immediately thought of you.

  17. estraven
    Posted January 23, 2014 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Cold here, too. Naturally our furnace went out during the last cold snap. We were fine, just concerned for the homeless and people who can’t afford to heat their homes. Here, we are feeding the birds. And trying to feed the rabbits–they’ve been leaving their footprints on our snowy front porch but don’t seem to eat the food we put out for them. Some years ago we had game birds come onto our porch–a neighbor had stocked them on his property for hunting, then released them from their pen because he was an absentee landlord and didn’t come out regularly to make sure they were fed. So he set them free and we struggled to feed the ones that showed up.

  18. Cathy Newman
    Posted January 23, 2014 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Rumor has it we might see snow here in south Louisiana tonight. I’ll believe it when I see it. But regardless, it will definitely drop well below freezing, and a resounding YES to doing whatever we can for the critters! I’ve even seen pets left outside before (definitely a reportable offense in my book), not to mention the wild animals.

  19. Jim Thomerson
    Posted January 23, 2014 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    Here in Austin, TX we are going to have more winter tonight and tomorrow morning. It may snow, or not. We had another day of winter last week. I have a native globemallow in a pot. It has never stopped blooming in spite of several freezing spells. We have frost weeds. Their dead stems extrude fancy ribbons of ice when it freezes.

  20. BilBy
    Posted January 23, 2014 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    It’s going to be in the 90s in Perth, WA today, though a little cooler than the last few days. I’m not crowing and I’m not saying that I want to be living in the depths of the Polar Vortex, but I haven’t had my ‘cold and snow fix’ for over a year.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted January 23, 2014 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, parts of Australia are (so far as I recall the news of a few days ago) getting record high temperatures. All the heat that’s getting sucked out of the US is coming out in Australia. Convection in reverse.

      Meanwhile, here in NZ, the sea’s been positively warm ever since November. I can live with that. (Just daring all the other listmembers to come and stab me with an icicle. I feel safe enough, by the time you get here your icicle will have melted 😉

  21. lisa parker
    Posted January 23, 2014 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    Poor baby looks soo cold!

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