Sunday, June 16, 2013

Commuting with cat food

Over the years, between trucks and cars, I've hauled a lot of cat food. I never really noticed how it smelled when I had my pickup, but I did notice when we sometimes stowed some in my then-husband's car because we were taking it for outings that particular day, and I needed to stop by to feed cats.

After a few hours of the sun beating down, even a rolled-closed bag of food, or food in a bin or bucket, could make the car smell like a mix of a granary and old bacon. God FORBID you have a empty or partial can of cat food back there. Whoa, what a stink.

I also used to store food on-site in garbage cans (often hanging), and it was easier to fill those from an open bag.

When my pick-up finally died, I couldn't afford another truck. Also, as the colonies I cared for grew smaller over time, I realized I was actually overfeeding my cats. I'd put out well over two quarts of food for something like five cats. I'm sure most of it was scarfed up by raccoons and squirrels. I began cutting back..and cutting back. By dark, there was always food left. My cats clearly weren't starving.

I began bagging up my dry food in "single-serve" ziplock bags and carrying as many full ziplocks as I could in one of those reuseable grocery bags. Feeding became much easier. When I am feeding cats, I just grab one bag, open the feeding station, dump the food in the bowl, bang the lid, call the cats, and go.

When I'm leaving food for others to feed the cats, I leave 5-7 ziplocks full of food, which makes life a lot easier on volunteer feeders, too. I just grab the grocery bag full of individual packets, trek out to the feeding area, where I have a hanging water cooler to store the bags of food in (pictures in a future post), fill that up with 5-7 packets, and my feeders are set for a week. They put the empty ziplocks back in the water cooler (which has a twist top and keeps water and raccoons out) and I fetch the bags when I refill the cooler next weekend.

I can usually get 4-8 uses out of each ziplock bag, so each one lasts one to two months.

The food is also easy to move (just grab the grocery bag handles and haul it out of the way) and it doesn't spill like those cat-food bags with the rolled or clipped top, or tip over, like the bins.

Best of all, my car doesn't smell like a granary any longer.

For wet food (which I use sparingly) I now carry those Meow Mix orange tubs with the peel-off top. Almost all of the food slides right out, unlike canned food where a considerable amount remains stuck to the can. I tuck the empty tub in an empty ziplock bag and yay! No stink.

If you are feeding a hundred cats a day, this method is probably more work than it's worth. But if you are feeding just a handful of cats at several sites, this works great and saves time.

Do you have any tips for hauling food that helps keep your car under control (keeping in mind once a tom cat pees on upholstery, there's no use even trying to keep things smelling nice any longer)?


  1. When I used to trap & transport, I put an old shower curtain plastic liner down in the back of my SUV, then cover with an old bedspread. That kept the rug from being soaked in pee.

  2. I have a small green tarp that I keep folded up, and then I spread it to protect the back when the seats are folded down. I usually put towels over that to soak up any accidents (like you use the bedspread), because with just a tarp, it might just funnel the urine off the edge into the car rug. I probably should buy a $1 shower curtain to keep in my emergency pack. Then I wouldn't have to drag that tarp around with me 24/7 unless I know I'm going to be trapping. I did actually have a tom have an accident in my car. I soaked up what I could and then immediately doused the spot with Natures Miracle (no water), drove with the windows down for a few weeks, and left the windows down while parked at home as well. I THINK the smell is gone, but I'm probably not the person to ask. ;)

  3. Yeah, our noses acclimate to the cat smells, don't they? I'm a big fan of vinegar or vinegar & water for neutralizing cat urine smell. Of course, things end up smelling like a salad, but that's better than the alternative. And I vote for the plastic shower curtain liner. I just left it down, spread out. One never knew when a trapping opportunity would present itself.

  4. I used to have a huge plastic tote in my car with all manner of feeding/trapping stuff. It was much too large so I took it out and pared down. A friend started bringing me ziplock baggies when I was scheduled to feed her colony; now I have a canvas bag set up pretty much like yours. If I need to carry more food I use an old plastic coffee container. My crew responds to the shake-shake-shake sound.

    My other hint is that some food (Purina is one) comes in Tyvek-like bags; I recycle these as mini-tarps - with a towel on top, they will prevent leaks under a trap.

    -Janet in Florida