THANK YOU, Anti-Cruelty Society! How They Helped With a Home Full of Neglected and Unwanted Animals

I’ve been writing about a hoarder house near me for over a year now. I tried to get all the cats inside vetted and ready for adoption, but the situation was impossible for me to handle on my own. There were at least sixteen intact cats living there at the time in filthy conditions. The occupants’ behavior towards me was erratic and alarming the entire time. However, one thing was consistent – they did not want to keep the animals. They were willing to relinquish almost all of them immediately.

hoarder kitchen hoarder living room

There was also a dog that would not stop barking the entire time I was there, and live birds in that cage above everything. birds in hoarder home

I’m happy to report that I just heard back from the Anti-Cruelty Society’s V.P. of Operations. He said that their Humane Investigation team was able to transfer nine cats so far out of that home. The team is supposed to be back once the weather gets better for the rest of the cats, because currently their investigators are overwhelmed with abuse and neglect cases.

Hopefully some of the cats will at least be available for adoption because a lot of these cats were socialized and friendly. Check out this friendly, and, ahem, fully intact, tabby male cat who rolled around in front of me begging for attention the last time I was there.

tabby male cat from hoarder house

This has been quite the learning experience for me about what kind of help there is out there for these animals. Believe me, my neighbors and I have called everyone that we can think of. Here is more information from Anti-Cruelty’s web site should you need to report animal abuse or neglect:

The Anti-Cruelty Society’s humane investigators respond to reports of cruelty and abuse within the city of Chicago and the surrounding metropolitan area. They will also assist with cases throughout the State of Illinois and the Midwest. Some cases may be the result of lack of knowledge on the part of the animal owner. In these instances, the investigator will attempt to educate the owner on his or her legal responsibilities. In situations where more extreme abuse or neglect are involved, our investigators will make every attempt to rectify the situation. As a last resort, they are authorized by the state of Illinois to remove the animal from a dangerous situation.

When making a report, please be ready to provide the following information:

  • The nature of the complaint (i.e., dog tied outside without food or water.)
  • A description of the animal(s)
  • The exact address where the animal(s) can be found. If the address is on a numbered street, please specify if the street is designated as ‘street’ or ‘place.’ (i.e., 52nd Street or 52nd Place.)
  • What city or suburb the address is located in
  • A number that you can be reached at should the investigator be unable to find the animal(s) or has any questions

ALL REPORTS are kept CONFIDENTIAL and your information WILL NOT be given out. If you prefer, reports can be made anonymously. You DO NOT have to leave contact information to make a report.

To report cruelty or abuse or neglect of an animal, please call (312) 644-8338 ext. 304 or send an e-mail to [email protected].

WOW< FINALLY!!!!!!!!!!!

Hami says:

Hope they are able to get all those cats out and into a good home.

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How to Convert a Feeder into a Cat Colony Caregiver

Joann found the Land Colony last summer in Avondale while we were TNR’ing all over the place there during the height of kitten season.


Margie and her husband, Pepe, were feeding the cats in their yard, and there were just too many. Joann saw several two-month old kittens.

Margie was on board with TNR, but Pepe was not at the time. We moved on to do TNR and foster kittens from several other colonies in Avondale.


We don’t know what happened to those kittens in the photos, but Margie called us a month later because she found yet another sick kitten in her yard. Simon had a URI and was infested with parasites. He was starving and underweight. Obviously he was also super cute and friendly. His rescue was a group effort from all of our friends from start to finish. We fully vetted him at Joann’s vet, our friend Elissa at Rockstar Pets fostered him, and he was eventually admitted into PAWS Chicago’s adoption program.


And then, on another twist of amazing fate, my TNR friend, Trudy O., saw Simon’s story and shared it with her neighbor. Her neighbor adopted Simon along with another kitten together there!

So obviously there were a lot of cats that Maria, Pepe and others were feeding, but we weren’t allowed to TNR yet. We were still in contact with them while we had Simon to let them know everything that was happening, but Pepe still did not want us to trap the cats. Fast forward to last week, six months later, when Kim V. and Nellie J. heard about this colony again because neighbors complained to animal control.


This time, Pepe was more on board with TNR although he still is worried. Kim and Nellie talked to him, Maria, their daughter, and tons of neighbors around the area who all feed the cats. Everyone loves the cats, feeds them, and wants them around to control the rats. No one wants the cats killed. But it’s the same old story – there are just too many of them. Maria and Pepe found kittens dead in their yard this winter, frozen from the low temperatures. They were realizing that they had to do something. Kim and Nellie were now allowed to freely TNR.


Last Friday night they showed up, and trapped 11 cats in just a few hours. They could have trapped at least a dozen more, but they ran out of traps and only had a set number of appointments..


They brought all of the cats to Anti-Cruelty Society for their TNR surgery. A LOT of cats were brought in that day for spay/neuter surgery.

THANK YOU, Nellie and Kim!

They think one of the cats miscarried in the trap before her surgery. Kim saw this when she picked up the trap off of the floor.

Out of the eleven cats, eight cats were female, three cats were male. Two of the female cats were pregnant with ELEVEN kittens total. 


Can you imagine if ALL eight females were pregnant? With those rates, 40-48 kittens would be born there this spring from just this bunch. Not to mention the other females still not trapped. You can see in the photos below Kim and Nellie trapped three tortie cats that night, but they saw at least five more. We all know tortie cats are female.


All eleven cats are currently recovering and doing well in Kim’s recovery space.

TNR and colony care and management doesn’t stop there. Kim and Nellie took it upon themselves to show everyone how to properly care for the cats afterwards. Currently the only shelters the cats have are cardboard boxes with plastic tarps and towels. Kim and Nellie are going to help them provide better shelters.


There are also outdoor electrical outlets so we’re hoping Maria may be able to provide electric outdoor warming bowls for food and water, and perhaps even heating mats for them to lay on. In the meantime Maria has also asked about costs for everything, and is even interested in possibly throwing a fundraiser for the cats. We’ll keep you posted if they do!


Maria has also agreed to register now as a feral cat colony caregiver in compliance with Cook County’s Managed Care of Feral Cats Ordinance.  Kim will be returning the cats there this week, and trapping again. We think once the cats are returned, then EVERYONE there will see how much the cats thrive and are better off with TNR. Kittens won’t be born and dying. The TNR’d cats won’t roam to mate and fight – they will remain to eat in their own territory. Kim is also talking to Maria about establishing set feeding times and a feeding station for the cats so they will all see how many cats they have and how much to feed.


Persistence, patience and follow-through is crucial to not only trapping cats, but also in working with the feeders. Sometimes it can take months and YEARS to get a feeder on board. Communication is key, and sometimes you have to walk away for a bit. There’s always more to be done with people who want your help. And then later you can come back and ask again. We are very excited about this change of heart and hope the momentum continues.






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RIP Sweet Stacy

A young man named Atticus was worried about a TNR’d colony cat on his block. The cat was acting sick and lethargic, so Atticus posted this heartbreaking message on Everyblock, asking for help:

“so there’s a feral cat, a sweet old man, who lives on my block. i think a neighbor across the street usually feeds the colony, because i see them hanging on his porch a lot.

the old man cat seems like he’s really sick. his nose is all crusted and he’s on my back porch right now, seeming like he has a bit of trouble moving. he’s just hunched there, breathing heavily.
i know not to touch him, because he’s definitely an ear-tipped feral. i tried to make him comfy, brought him a little bit of food. he sat up when i got near him, but did not run, which is one of the ways i know he is not doing well, because he used to run when i got within 30 ft orso of him.

i guess my question is, am i caring too much for what is basically a wild animal? he surely won’t even live the month without medical attention, but he is ‘no ones’ cat, just there to keep the rat population down.. i’m not posting to say, “dang i don’t want this guy to die on *my* porch!” as much as i am saying, “is there a way we can do something for him?”

i don’t have the money to pay for medical attention for him, and i’m not sure if it’s even a cause worth fighting for because he might just be old as hell and withering with age.

thanks, neighbors. i’m sorry to post something so bummerific, i just love this old cat.”


Joann and Kim brought traps to Atticus. Atticus and his girlfriend, Katie, watched the traps day and night. This sick cat would come and go, and sat by the trap for a few days.


In the meantime, they trapped another black cat. They named her Ditto, and she received her TNR treatment at the Anti-Cruelty Society’s clinic.


Finally, after a week of setting traps, the sick cat went in. img_9078 img_9091

We went to our friend, Dr. James Harris, at Elmhurst Animal Care Center.  We found out there that this sweet “old man cat” was actually a female. She was a senior cat, sick with upper respiratory infection – URI, underweight, had only a few teeth left, and had some pretty extensive mats on her back. They also found her microchip from her TNR, which was traced to PAWS’ clinic. img_9077 The Elmhurst clinic sedated her, did her bloodwork and FIV/FeLV test, and gave her an antibiotic injection of Convenia for her URI. They carefully clipped off her mats, but left the fur intact underneath. Afterwards I set her up in my feral cat recovery lounge. Her total vet bill was $121. If you’d like to make a donation towards her care, you can do so through the Paypal donation link at the top of this page, or directly through with [email protected] img_9159

In the meantime, PAWS let us know that she was TNR’d in 2010 on the same block we trapped her. Her name was Stacy. The person who TNR’d her has since moved from the block. She was the only cat she ever TNR’d because Stacy kept having litters of kittens. But Stacy had other feeders caring for her since then, including Atticus, and his neighbor across the street.


The next day Dr. Harris informed us that she tested negative for FIV/FeLV, but her bloodwork results were dismal. She would need ongoing daily medication and care for lymphoma, most likely. This was just not possible in her situation and Stacy was already very sick. She was acting very lethargic, barely moving in the dog crate, yet very scared and stressed at being confined. At the same time, if we put her back outside, she was not in a situation where she stayed in a single place and could take daily medicine and daily care. Winter was coming and the cold would eventually kill her. After much discussion between all of us, Jenny N. at PAWS offered to take her to their clinic and euthanize her.


RIP, Sweet Stacy. You were surrounded by love at the end of your life, and brought a lot of people together who tried to help you the best way we could. We are so grateful for the compassion of Atticus and Katie for caring for her, for reaching out to the local Everyblock community, and to the vet care from Elmhurst and PAWS. Every animal deserves a dignified and humane death when they are suffering, and this is why we provide that care as best as we can to the colony cats.






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Trapping Owner’s Indoor/Outdoor Pet Cats

Cats #19 and #20 trapped from the Avondale TNR Project ended up belonging to a neighbor that lets all of their pet cats outside.


Panther was trapped last week and taken to PAWS where she received their TNR package, including spay surgery, ear tipping, microchip, vaccinations, and parasite treatments. IMG_7688

She was also acting friendly in the trap. We’ve been talking to neighbors all around there and Joann figured out who she belonged to. They said they have four other cats they let outside, and Panther was their only intact cat. They gave descriptions of their other cats, but there are so many cats outside in this neighborhood it is hard to keep track. The ear tip is the only universal sure sign that we know that the cat is already fixed. We’ve trapped several ear tipped cats in this project, and as long as they look healthy, we let them out immediately again in the same place they were trapped.


Joann talked to them about cat behavior, keeping their cats inside, registering the microchip in their name, and continued vet care. They were happy to have Panther returned to them.


Thursday night she trapped another cat, and took him to Anti-Cruelty Society for their TNR package. IMG_0665

Hamlin was already neutered, but he received updated vaccinations, microchip, and an ear tip. Because he was already neutered, we thought maybe he was from the same house as Panther. Joann talked to them, and turned out he was, and they wanted him back. They’re going to register the microchip in their name.


At least now these cats are ear tipped so if they are going to get trapped again, they will be let out immediately long as they are not sick or injured.

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When Biggie Smiles was Small: The TNR of the Iron Works Colony

Yesterday I wrote about Biggie Smiles, the Iron Works Colony cat that is bonded to his feeder, his TNR’d feline friends, and his outdoor home.


Here is Biggie Smiles when he was small, and we just started doing TNR for this colony in 2012.  SAMSUNG

A coworker told me about this colony and the complaints from neighbors on this block. This is how the colony looked at the time.  SAMSUNG

I understood why neighbors would complain – the cats were very visible and very bold. SAMSUNG


It’s disconcerting to see small kittens in alleys. This is Biggie and his brother. SAMSUNG

Oscar, their feeder loves the cats and fed them diligently. They obviously were well-cared for. He showed me photos of kittens from the past. Some he would keep, and some he would give away. SAMSUNG

This breeding cycle needed to stop. Oscar liked the idea of TNR and getting all of the cats there fixed and vaccinated. A Tree House staff person came with me to TNR. At first Oscar thought we would be “taking away” all of the adult cats, while he “got to keep” the kittens of his choice. Eventually he understood that was not the way it worked.


When we showed up to TNR, it was fairly easy initially because the cats were bonded to Oscar, so he was even able to just pick up some of the cats and put them in traps himself.


TNR doesn’t always go like this. Now this is what I call herding cats!

We set traps all over and the cats came to check them out.

DSC07986 DSC07988 And then they started going in. DSC07979 In the midst of this we found four tiny kittens. Oscar has a heated shelter in his iron works business next door, so of course they were there. DSC07993

There was no room for the kittens at Tree House. Oscar knew which cat was their mother, and since she was fairly friendly towards him, he agreed to foster her indoors with her kittens, until they were old enough to be weaned, and then vetted for adoption. He set them up in a much cleaner space. DSC07997 Oscar diligently took the kittens for weekly vet visits at the clinic, and admitted two of them when they were ready for adoption into Anti-Cruelty Society. He kept two of them for himself to be part of the colony. The mother of course was TNR’d. SAMSUNG

Two years later now and Oscar told me that the kittens he kept were killed by cars on the street. But the colony population is now contained, there are no more neighbor complaints or “new” cats, and Biggie Smiles, his brother, and two other TNR’d cats are thriving and still there to this day.

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Hoping for a Positive Outcome for the Hoarder/Drug House this Holiday Season

My neighbor just spotted the Anti-Cruelty Society van again outside the hoarder/drug house of the indoor Stealers Wheel Colony. It sounds like they may be closer to getting all of the animals out of there. I will share the news if that happens. It’s been over a year since I was told about this house and tried to help, but I’m always hoping we are getting closer to a resolution.

This same neighbor has been reporting this house for years to the alderman because of the number of animals inside, the filthy condition it is in, and the fact that it appears there are drugs there as well. A few months ago she saw the “owners” of these cats giving away kittens outside. I once again called Anti-Cruelty Society, Chicago Animal Care and Control, and Cook County Animal and Rabies Control.

The last time I was inside it was hard to keep track of the cats. They swarmed the food. Stealers Wheel Colony feeding

They swarmed the new litter boxes we brought. Stealers Wheel new litterboxes This is what the original litter boxes looked like. So there was also feces all over the floor, even though the cats still tried to use the boxes.

I counted sixteen cats, two birds, and one chihuahua, but I also could not get into three of the rooms because the doorways were blocked. The cats could go in and out of them so it was possible there were even more cats hiding from me.

IMG01521-20121210-1244 Last year my neighbor Kim and I managed to TNReturn eight of the cats at Anti-Cruelty Society and using vouchers at PAWS Chicago’s low-cost vet clinics. Kim also ended up having to foster and adopt out two of the cats. Once these cats were out of that house you could see they were friendly and adoptable. DSC08382 We had to stop rescue efforts because the “owners” started arguing with us and the situation got dangerous. If nothing transpires soon, I’ll keep calling everywhere again. Once the animals are out then maybe someday the people there can also get the help they need.

In the meantime I’m hoping for a holiday miracle!

Hami says:

Can you give us an update about this hoarder case? Are you able to get all the cats out of that house now?

Vanessa says:

So far Anti-Cruelty Society has been able to remove nine cats from that house. Here is an update:

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Help Support Trap-Neuter-Return in Cook County, IL

Cook County’s 2007 Managed Care of Feral Cats Ordinance is under fire from the Chicago Audubon Society and other anti-cat groups. Send a letter voicing your support of TNR to Cook County Commissioners with this online form from Alley Cat Allies. We have to stick together and stand up for the feral cats! There is a public meeting to address this issue scheduled for March 19th.

This is how you stand up and stick together!

This is how you stand up and stick together!

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Fosters to the Rescue

Remember Knox? Well, actually her name is now Maddox. She was brought by someone to Anti-Cruelty Society, ACS. ACS brought her to Chicago Animal Care and Control, CACC, where her paperwork was filled out as “per ACS, feral not able to touch, will bite.” Because she was assessed as being feral, she was scheduled to be killed. When I visited CACC, their amazing volunteer group, the CACC Cat Transfer Team, showed me Maddox. The original plan was to TNRelocate her into a caretaker’s backyard.

Maddox is now officially being fostered by her rescuer caretaker. She was admitted into Tree House Humane Society’s “foster to the floor” program, where the foster pet parent cares for the cat and takes her to Tree House’s clinic for scheduled medical care until there is room in their shelter. It’s an amazing program that helps get these cats off the street and makes sure they are healthy while easing them back into indoor life.

Maddox gets along with other cats and seems to understand that she has been given a second chance. Please contact Tree House if you are interested in adopting her.

Maddox was frightened, not feral.

Maddox was frightened, not feral.

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Outdoor Heated Water Bowls for Feral and Stray Cats

Every year, the temperatures drop after the holidays, along with my mood. I’m not a fan of winter. But my mood picked up when I saw the James’ Gang Colony cats in my yard lounging all morning, looking totally comfortable in their environment. Cats In My Winter Garden

These particular cats in my yard have been around for a few winters now. I started this blog to show people that a feral cat can live a long life outdoors, because that is what they know and prefer. Yes, they get help from me, but they were also surviving before that. I trap-neuter-return TNR a feral cat colony because I don’t think cats should be outdoors and I don’t want more of them, but the ones who are already out there deserve to live out their lives.

I’m happy to provide extra comforts to the feral and stray cats in my yard, and I encourage all of the cat colony caretakers that I work with to do the same. Once a feral or stray cat is spayed/neutered, they will start sticking around more because they are no longer roaming and looking for a mate.

Cats need water year round, like we all do, and that gets harder for them to find in the winter. There are lots of easy ways to provide fresh water for them.

A few years ago I bought a heated water bowl for them. I actually bought the one in the second picture of that link.

I didn’t really ever see any of the stray cats or feral cats using it and kind of shrugged off my purchase. Until this morning, when I saw Dice drinking from it, while Springy Funny Face and Bouncy Honey Bear dined together. Brunch time

This is the fifth winter that I’m caring for Dice now since his TNR surgery at the Anti-Cruelty Society on January 26th, 2009. He was pretty upset in the trap and hit his face trying to get out, but he’s come a long way since. He seems to enjoy the extra comforts I put out for the cats in my yard the most.

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