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CHICAGO — The city’s feral cats — and the Chicagoans who rescued them during below-zero temperatures this week — are getting national attention.

More than 1,800 people are part of the Chicago Community Cats Facebook group, which helps members learn about taking care of feral cat colonies. With the city feeling as cold as 45 degrees below zero this week, members became particularly active and shared information about how to protect outdoor cats.

TMZ, which typically focuses on celebrities, heard about the group and did stories about the feral cat caretakers on its TV show and website.

“Even nine lives can’t withstand 20 degrees below zero — which is why Chicagoans are on a mission to save hundreds of thousands of stray cats … with the help of tons of straw,” TMZ wrote.

The attention led to people from around the country contacting the group to see how they could help, said organizer Erica Roewade in a post on Facebook. Roewade has advised people to donate to the group’s GoFundMe campaign to create shelters for cats. The campaign has raised more than $2,600 but organizers hope to hit $4,000.

And feral cat organizations are using this weekend and next to build and sell or give away shelters that are used to warm feral cat colonies during cold spells.

Whiskers and Tails Rescue Foundation volunteers will build feral cat shelters during an event from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday at the Humboldt Park Fieldhouse, 1440 N. Sacramento Ave. The organization hosts a shelter-building event every year and plans to make 100 shelters this weekend.

People will be able to pick up shelters and straw starting at 10 a.m. during the event. Shelters will cost $15-$30, and up to two houses with a case of canned cat food will be given for free to low-income and no-income feral cat caretakers.

Cats of Pilsen and CastleBlackPaw will also host a shelter-building and giveaway event from noon-2 p.m. Feb. 10 at La Catrina Cafe, 1011 W. 18th St. People who live in the 60608 zip code will be able to receive up to three shelters for free. Extra shelters, if there are any, will be available for free to others. Twitter @BauerJournalism

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