The TNR of the Armando Colony Cats

The Armando Colony population is now almost stabilized and the numbers are reduced by almost half because of TNR. We did this in four days.


Seven kittens were pulled. One adult cat died during surgery. And eight other adult cats were Trapped, Neutered and Returned. I’d like to now talk about those eight cats.


The numbers could’ve been even better but we do not have homes for these adult TNR’d cats, all of which are friendly. They were returned to the feeder after their surgery, who continues to feed them daily, and lets them in and out of his basement. They are all small cats, but fairly healthy for the most part. The feeder named all of them, and knew the sex of each one. That is pretty rare in these cases.


If anyone is interested in adopting any of these cats, please contact me.


A lot of litters were prevented. Of the eight TNReturned cats here, there are five females and three males. In fact, one of them was pregnant.


This is their yard. The cat pictured is still not TNR’d because the feeder held out on us for at least two cats. We are going to have to go back again. IMG_9336

Last Monday night, Heather, Melissa and I showed up with a bunch of traps. Once the feeder came out to meet us, we were able to trap the cats in about an hour.


The cats spent the next few days going into the clinic for their spay/neuter surgeries, and I recovered them in my garage. IMG_9217 Suby was the most urgent case because we knew she was pregnant. Here she is in the trap before and after her surgery, showing off her new ear tip.

Garfield is a very handsome male that needed his rear shaved a bit because he was suffering from diarrhea. He posed beautifully.

Maggie also had diarrhea. She did not post beautifully. She squirmed all over the place before and after her surgery.

Here is Marlo, another female.

Skunk, female.

Oso, male.

Mala, strangely enough, was already spayed. But now she’s also ear tipped and up to date on all of her shots.

And here’s Morris, who would only pose for his “before” photo. But he is definitely neutered and ear tipped now. IMG_9228

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RIP Sickie from the Armando Colony

We started on the first round of TNR of the Armando Colony on Monday this week. This colony is a mix of about 17 cats and kittens.


Nine adult cats were brought into the clinic, including Sickie. Unfortunately Sickie died during her surgery due to multiple complications, including excessive bleeding. The clinic also saw that her lymph node was attached to her intestines. They worked on her for hours, but she was just too sick.


The feeder obviously named Sickie for a reason. He said she was always suffering from colds and URI – upper respiratory infection. Obviously something was going on with her. The feeder took the news in stride, and is extremely thankful for all of our hard work so far. I am so thankful that during her life, Sickie had a lot of feline friends to hang out with, and a colony feeder that cared for all of them. He had her ever since she was a kitten, and was one of his favorite cats because she was so vocal and bonded to him. She did not die alone suffering on the street – she was under the expert care and compassion of the clinic.


RIP Sickie. You were loved by all of us. IMG_9250

Dawn says:

: ( RIP baby

Maryann Collins says:

You did the best you could for her. That is all any of us can do.

It was a pleasure meeting you today. You are doing great work.

Vanessa says:

Thanks, Maryann, for your kind words and for all that you do! It was wonderful meeting you today.

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Introducing the Creole Colony: The Story of an Overwhelmed Feeder, Hoarder, and Animal Lover

Danny moved to Humboldt Park decades ago and started feeding the cats outside. Currently he is feeding at least 25+ cats and kittens, inside and outside.


I  met Danny a few weeks ago when Tree House referred a call to me from another woman named Tonya who was looking for help with a mama calico cat and her kittens born in her yard.


I called Tonya and learned this was the calico cat’s second litter within the past six months. Tonya adopted her previous litter into her own home, and had them vetted at Treehouse. My friend Heather and I went to talk to Tonya and walked around her block with her. We walked door to door, and found Danny immediately. He had cat houses and feeding stations on his property. IMG_0631 IMG_0679

Danny was completely overwhelmed with feeding the cats. He told us there were about 15 friendly cats that he has brought inside with him, and he feeds another 10+ outdoor cats as well. Currently, there is also the calico cat family, another pregnant cat outside his house, and most likely other pregnant cats in his house. I have also met another neighbor directly across the street who feeds another colony of at least 3+ cats.


Danny talked about growing up poor in Louisiana, and how he is currently caring for his 92 year old mother and her 80 year old partner at his place. His mother is in a wheelchair and has cancer. In addition, he was trying to keep up with the care of the cats. He should be retired, but he keeps working as a handyman to keep up with the expenses for the cats. During our conversation, he pulled out antibiotics that he was trying to give them from the vet. He was almost in tears during this conversation.


Danny was totally on board with getting the cats spayed/neutered, and TNR. He said he was offered help throughout the years, but no one would follow through.


We made plans to meet the following day to start trapping. When Heather, Tonya and I showed up, he was again almost in tears. He said he did not expect us to show up, because people have always promised him help before without following through.


I told him that when I say I’m coming over, I’m coming over.


We brought feral cat shelters and set up traps in his backyard. IMG_0682 IMG_0685

By the next day, we had five cats in traps.


Four were clearly feral, all Siamese, and siblings. Meet Little Mama, Winky, Simono, and Princess. Two males, and two females. They had some medical conditions, including severe dental disease,  underweight, diarrhea, inflamed intestines, alopecia, distended abdomen, ropey intestines, and conjunctivitis.


Can you tell they’re siblings or what?

We also trapped Rudy. Rudy had to be kept overnight because he needed additional care. He was treated for tapeworms, and obviously had some conjunctivitis going on. IMG_0735 Danny recovered all of the cats on his own. We resumed trapping and got five more cats.


Meet Fuzzy, Jake, Lil Fuzzy, and Lola. All of them also had variations of tapeworm, dental disease, and intestinal disorders. Ss far we have been charged $40 for various worm medications, and have been advised to do $20 fecal tests/per cat to determine which parasites they have.


Jake’s tongue is sticking out because of the dental disease. A few of the other cats look like that as well.

In addition, we brought in Sammy.


Sammy didn’t make it. He died under anesthesia, and one of Danny’s other cats almost died as well. That cat was brought back to life with CPR.


Danny broke down with the news of Sammy’s death. I don’t even have a photo of Sammy to share with you, otherwise normally I write separate obituaries for cats. But I brought Danny to Treehouse’s clinic so that they could explain to him what happened. He was very upset. Very, very upset. He made arrangements to get Sammy’s ashes from them for $75+.


Unfortunately Danny is now not as trusting of this process. This is the second cat that has died under Treehouse’s care since December that I know of. I have never had cats die before during their spay/neuter surgeries in over twelve years of TNR. Also, the ear tips done now all month there are very bloody for multiple cats in multiple colonies. The sheets covering the traps are coming back sprayed with blood. It is concerning, because normally, I’ve never seen blood on the ear tips.


Along with the TNR, I’ve been working with Danny to provide a safe environment for the cats. His first floor apartment, where he stays with his mother, is fine. Rudy, the orange cat, has full reign of the house.


The rest of the cats are kept sequestered in various rooms, including his back porch. The back porch is filled with a lot of stuff, including full litter boxes and lots of cat food lying everywhere. There are at least five cats living there. I am hoping Danny will eventually help us clean up back there. IMG_0756 IMG_0758 IMG_0759 IMG_0761 IMG_0762

The garage where all of the siamese cats hang out also needs cleaning. We have provided feral bins to put in there. IMG_0774

Danny has currently shut down on us, although I remain hopeful he will continue working with us in the future, despite all obstacles. He knows where the calico mama cat and her kittens are. We’ve talked about bringing in the kittens for adoption. I brought him additional feral cat shelters, a feeding station, and a donation of almost 300 cans of wet food. He understands we’re trying to help him help the cats. If you are interested in helping, please,



[email protected]






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Thank you!

Tanya Mohan says:


Your article is amazing. It captures a part of our communities that people do not realize exists so heavily. We all see the stray cats, and its time we all stop and think of their safety and where they are breeding. We will all continue to work with Danny and others to help manage this problem in our neighborhoods. People like Danny have hearts of gold and put themselves aside to care for these beautiful animals, but it is easy to get overwhelmed. The most important point you are making, and I cannot express this enough, is that HELP IS OUT THERE.

Problems like this are manageable – to those who reads this article, I saw a problem…..I called my local humane society, and I asked for help. Help reached me immediately, in the form of Vanessa and Heather. Thanks to their care and efforts, we are actively minimizing feral cat reproduction and medical problems near me. Knowledgeable help is out there – if you just pick up the phone and ASK FOR HELP!


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Introducing the Boonie Colony

Melissa has done TNR all around this area for years. She’s moved apartments a few times here and finds cats at each location. We’ve worked on TNR together near the Cell Phones Colony. Her sister has adopted a few cats from there. IMG_0282

Even though Melissa no longer lives there, she visits almost daily and replenishes the food and water for the colony in this feeding station.


It’s really cool – that feeding station has been in the alley for months and no one messes with it.


When Melissa moved to her latest apartment she noticed a lot of cats outside. That’s how we found the Armando Colony, just a few doors down from her. Along with our friend Heather, we TNReturned and rescued 18 cats and kittens so far from that location.


But there were still more cats coming around to Melissa’s yard, so for several nights this month we set up traps. Melissa doesn’t even feed, but the cats came anyways. We have since determined there is another colony up the block, but so far the feeder is not compliant.


We have TNR’d five cats now from Melissa’s yard. I call this the Boonie Colony, named after one of Melissa’s pit bulls. The amazing thing about Melissa is that she is actually a dog person, and volunteers all the time at Chicago Animal Care and Control. But she also of course cares for all animals, and believes in TNR.


One of the cats we trapped was already ear tipped. She looked good, so we released her immediately. This is just the third all-white cat I’ve ever come across outside in over a decade of TNR. IMG_0485

The rest of the five cats we trapped were all male and taken to the clinic for their TNR spa package.


Boonie was the first cat we trapped. Obviously he was named after Melissa’s dog, and I consider him the mascot of this colony. He had a broken canine, but is healthy and now neutered. IMG_0384

He had a lot of great poses, so Jim made a gif.


TNR is good. Yes!


When we trapped Donut, we could see he is obviously friendly, and also had a very, very tight, frayed old collar around his neck. IMG_0414 IMG_0432 He was neutered at the clinic, tested negative for FIV/FeLV, and we did not ear tip him. Heather was able to get him admitted into Felines & Canines, Inc. for adoption into an indoor home. Here he is in their isolation room. IMG_0482

Spaulding is another brown tabby that we trapped. He also had a broken canine, and was treated for nasal discharge. IMG_0466  Whip is another very healthy orange boy, also now TNR’d. IMG_0584

Scruffles is a grey boy with a big old wound on his head. IMG_0572

The wound was cleaned and treated, and he was TNR’d without further problems. IMG_0604

We’ll keep trapping at this location to see what other cats show up. Thanks for all that you do, Melissa!

Barb G says:

I assume the little tag on Donut’s tight collar wasn’t useful in helping finding his owners? No microchip? Hope he finds a new home!

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Pulling Kittens from a Colony

When we started TNR on the Armando Colony, the feeders told us about the kittens inside the house.


There were two litters, seven kittens total ranging from four to six weeks old. The mama cats were not there. The feeder said one of the mama cats was hit by a car and killed just that week.


Heather and Melissa were able to get into the house to see what kind of shape they were in. They were all friendly, and absolutely beautiful. IMG_9268

But you can see that the tabby in back was starting to get sick.


Some of the kittens were already pretty sick. A few had extreme eye issues. IMG_9270

While I was taking the nine adult cats back and forth from the clinic for their TNR surgery, Heather and Melissa made several calls to the no kill shelter trying to see if we could also get these kittens admitted. This is why it was so great to work as a team – there was no way all of this could’ve been done at once otherwise.


The shelter agreed that the kittens with the worst eye issues should be vetted. Heather and Melissa took two of the kittens that evening to a full-service vet, and then returned them to the feeder with their meds. At this point, I was doing recovery for the eight adult cats in my garage. One had died during surgery.


The next day the shelter agreed to vet the remaining five kittens at their clinic. I went to the feeder’s house to pick them up. She came out swinging their carrier bag around. I just took it away from her as fast as possible.


I was so rattled by the situation that I didn’t realize all seven of the kittens were actually in the carrier until the clinic started examining them. The feeder never told me. I texted a photo to Heather to make sure that ALL of the kittens were accounted for that she saw on her initial visit. We are confident there are no kittens left at that house.


They were packed in tight and very squirmy. You can see that the orange kitten’s eye already looked a little bit better.


Meet Hepburn, Garland, Rooney, Astaire, Monroe, Lemoyne and Hirsch. IMG_9345

During this appointment, the shelter called and said they would admit all seven the next day. There was some confusion as to where they would stay that night, but it worked out in the end. There was no way I was going to take back these kittens to the feeder. They didn’t want them anyways.


I had to make this video of them in there. They are ridiculous.

Obviously they are adorable and quite a conversation starter. I was at the clinic for a few hours with them, and met quite a few people. One woman was there with her adopted cat from Feral Fixers. Another woman was there with a dumped cat that she found in Humboldt Park proper. After speaking to another woman for a few minutes, she suddenly said, “Wait, are you Cats In My Yard?!” THAT was fun. She said she found this blog inspiring. That made my day! She is doing TNR just south of me, yes! Hi, Maryann, it was wonderful to meet you!


Anyways, I also moved them into a bigger carrier because they had enough of that small space. And then they became impossible to photograph and wouldn’t sit still – I could only get blurry action shots. Check out the tortie in front, acting just like a typical tortie.  IMG_9350

The kittens are safe now. Thank you, Heather and Melissa, for all of your hard work in saving their lives and taking them off the streets!





Dawn says:

omg how adorable

Maryann Collins says:

Thanks for the update on the kittens. It was great meeting you and them. I think the whole experience inspired my young neighbor who helps me with the cats. We will be trying to trap TJ for a third time next week.

Vanessa says:

Thanks, Maryann, you made my day! We really need the next generation on our side doing this. Please contact me if you guys have any questions, or perhaps she would even be interested in hosting a TNR work shop at her school…? I would be happy to assist with that. Vanessa

Heather says:

OMG Vanessa, you are hysterical! You didn’t even tell me you took a video. Those little stinkers.

Vanessa says:

I lost my mind over those kittens. I couldn’t believe how many were in that carrier when I opened it up.

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Hyde Park Cats 2016 Calendar Now Available – Cats in My Yard Featured for October

We are included again (!!!) in the Hyde Park Cats calendar for 2016.


This highlighted link includes instructions on how to order this calendar from


Every cat in a trap here has a story that deserves to be shared and celebrated, which is pretty much why I started this blog in the first place. Here are their stories:


From left to right, top to bottom:


FIRST ROW, left to right:

Ferret, from the Jose and the Pussycats Colony, TNR’d in February 2012, and still feral and thriving outdoors. She has a cat bed outdoors with fresh, clean blankets every day. IMG01281-20121020-1306

Frostie MacCreamsicle, also from the Jose and the Pussycats Colony, TNR’d in March 2012. He is friendly so I fostered him and he was adopted by my friends, Eliya and Mary.


Whip, the orange cat, is from the Boonie Colony, TNR’d in March 2015. We have not seen him since he was TNReturned outside, but he comes from a very large colony that is fed daily by a feeder who lets the cats in and out of his basement. IMG_0457

I trapped this tabby cat from the Eleanor Rigby Colony in March 2015. I let him go right away – he was already ear tipped but I don’t know who originally TNR’d him. There are multiple feeders on every block in this area. IMG_0655


SECOND ROW, left to right:


Wally, the black cat, from the V Colony, was TNR’d in May 2014. He was very friendly and very sick – the first vet I took him to advised me to euthanize him. I took him to another vet for a second opinion. He tested positive for FeLV, then reversed the test results, and was adopted by my friends Carlin and Kathy in St. Louis. Now over a year later he is still very much alive and thriving in their home. 12212066_868127303256882_1569841162_n

Garfield, the long-haired orange cat from the Armando Colony, was TNR’d in December 2014. I still see him periodically when I visit. IMG_0372

Mala, the black cat, also from the Armando Colony, was TNR’d in December 2014. She was very feral and also returned to Armando’s house once she recovered from her surgery.


Cosmo Moon Eyes, this black and white cat from the Peacock Colony, was TNR’d in August 2014. He is still around and being fed according to his feeder, Ashley, a young girl in junior high who learned all about TNR from this process. IMG_7741


THIRD ROW, left to right:


Mr. Friendly, the brown tabby and white cat from the Rockstar Colony, definitely lived up to his name. He was TNR’d in February 2012 and his feeders wanted to keep him as an indoor/outdoor cat. He was still thriving later that year and I would see him periodically throughout the neighborhood. Unfortunately the following year he was killed by a car. My rescue neighbor and friend Kim found him and gave him a proper burial as he deserved. RIP Mr. Friendly. IMG01278-20121020-1302

None, the grey cat, was the first to be TNR’d from the Chester Colony in March 2015.  none

Joann tried to foster her indoors for a bit, but None turned out to be feral and was ultimately returned outside. Their feeder Chester feeds daily and they have shelter in this garage. IMG_0972

Popcorn, the brown and white tabby from the front yard of my very own colony, James Gang Colony, was TNR’d in September 2014. I named him Popcorn because he kept trying to pop out of the trap and made a mess inside the entire time. He is feral and still visits my front yard feeding station at night, although I have no idea where he goes otherwise. IMG_7992

Apple, also from the Chester Colony, was about five months old when we trapped her and her sister Ava in March 2015. Joann could not bear to put them back outside without trying to socialize them first. She ended up keeping both of these sisters where they are living their lives indoors with her and her other five pet cats. IMG_1076

We can’t wait to get these calendars to distribute as gifts for the holidays!














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Building the TNR Team

Nothing gets me more inspired about animal rescue than talking to other people and hearing their stories.


The other day I met Joann and Terri for the first time in person over lunch. Joann lives near me, somehow found this site and has been offering to help with TNR. She’s done TNR in other neighborhoods, and other forms of animal rescue, mostly cats. When she worked downtown in the nineties she would take kittens from a homeless woman named Bonnie that she would always see with a different kitten. In all, Joann estimates she took about 50 cats/kittens from Bonnie and adopted them out. This homeless woman acquired these cats through ads in the paper. Joann even confronted one of the previous “owners” of one of these kittens. Eventually she also got help for Bonnie through social services. Joann also worked with other people helping a hoarder home. But before the hoarder home cats were adopted out, they first took in other cats that were left behind nearby in Cabrini-Green when it was demolished in 1995. The hoarder home cats were on one floor, and the Cabrini-Green cats were on the second floor. All eventually were vetted and adopted out. Her stories amazed me.


Terri lives near the Armando Colony and has been doing TNR there for seven years. She talked about a boat left parked year-round next door to her that every year a litter would be born in until she started TNR. She would “go fishing” for the kittens in the boat and adopt them out. It sounds like her colony is all fixed now, but there are a few newcomers that I offered to help with.


The best part was seeing Terri’s car. Can you tell she has a cat colony in her garage or what? IMG_0352





Robin says:

She does have quite the story! Animal rescue is very hard work. I’m thankful that there are good people out there who are willing to put in the effort to help out the stray and feral kitties.

Maryann Collins says:

LOL. I recognize the decorations on the car. She sounds like a wonderful person.

Vanessa says:

She is! I’m going to help her TNR this week.

Vanessa says:

I’m thankful as well! You have a great web site, Robin.

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A Valentine’s Day Rescue Story for Cats and Dogs

Last December Heather, Melissa and I TNR’d and rescued 17 cats from the Armando Colony. Eight adult cats were TNReturned to him, and these seven kittens were placed into a no-kill shelter. The kittens were pulled just in time – you can see that some of them are sick here.


Armando is an animal lover who feeds cats, letting them go in and out of his basement window, and subsequently ended up with more cats than he could handle. He does not have the space or the finances to care for so many cats, but he has a huge heart.


On Valentine’s Day he called Melissa and Heather, asking for help with a kitten that followed his colony home last week. This kitten was clearly very sick. 10013322_10153035001179098_1287346585455655626_n

Armando took her to the vet right away, and they told him her eye needed to be removed within the next few days. Otherwise the infection was going to move to her other eye, and possibly into her brain. An eye enucleation costs between $500-800, and without a payment plan, Armando can not afford that. He also has more than enough cats.


Heather called every rescue she could, and Specialty Purebred Cat Rescue (SPCR) agreed to take this kitten. In fact, she is already there, and her eye has already been removed. Thank you to Heather and SPCR for helping this cat so quickly!


Heather also saw that there was another cat there without an ear tip. She gave Armando a trap so that the cat could be brought into the clinic for his TNR package.


In the meantime, Armando also told Heather about his friend who was being evicted, and had nowhere to go with her four chihuahuas. She was desperate to find a place for her dogs. They also were all intact and not vetted, and very cute.

And they were all also bonded together.


This is why Armando’s friend was so scared to give these dogs up initially, even though she had to. Someone had told her bonded dogs would die of depression when separated from each other and their owner. Heather explained that because these dogs were still only a year old, they had a very good chance of being able to be happy in a new home that could properly care for them.


When you do TNR, a lot of times people will come to you for help with all kinds of questions and requests about their other animals, or even their own personal problems. TNR is not just about rescuing cats – it’s a community service that requires the community to come together and help each other out.


With SPCR’s additional help, Heather found placement for the chihuahuas in a shelter in Kenosha. Volunteers from SPCR are going to transport the dogs this Friday.


For me, this was the sweetest Valentine’s Day story ever.




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RIP Wolfie, the Cat Hit by a Car (But We had No Idea)

This orange tabby cat, named Wolf Blitzer, aka Wolfie, has the kind of story that shows we are all doing the best we can with the information we have at the time. There is an outdoor cat overpopulation crisis and when you are doing TNR, you are preventing more cats from being born outside to suffer. In the meantime, some of the cats already outside like Wolfie are suffering. Every animal rescuer beats themselves up because we don’t always have the answers until the outcome, although we try. There is no blame here, although we blame ourselves constantly.


Wolfie’s story is also why I advocate that people trap their own cats for TNR – if they can. A cat colony caretaker knows their cats the best, and can observe any changes accordingly. This is not always possible, of course.


His story is also why I do TNR here only on the northwest side of Chicago, reasonably close to me. I will help the feeders and caretakers near me who cannot do the TNR on their own because they may be physically or financially unable to. ALL of Chicago has a lot of cats outside, not just certain areas. I believe in targeted trapping to reduce the numbers of cats in an area, and then take on the responsibility of continuing cat colony management as new cats show up to be TNR’d, and the existing cats require continued vet care as they get sick and injured. That has been more than enough to keep me more than busy with TNR here in my area since 2004. I am only able to do this because I am constantly talking to my neighbors about cats and working with them, whether they are feeders, caretakers, animal rescuers, or concerned citizens who also want to live in a community that doesn’t have animals dying and suffering outside in their yards. Sometimes these neighbors are also hoarders, or the kind of people that dump animals outside, or animal breeders, and I’ll still try to work with them. TNR is a community effort – you are not going to get better help elsewhere. Whenever I get requests from other areas, I urge people to knock on doors and get help directly from their own neighbors. They will most likely also find other cats and colonies, and then can do the TNReturn and rescue there as well.


OK, I’ll go on to Wolfie’s story, it just had me thinking, as it tied into so much of what happened these past few years with me and other people wanting me to help them with their animals. Wolfie showed up in one of Jennie’s colonies last spring. Jennie currently cares for 26-28 TNR’d cats outside in West Humboldt Park. Another 60-80+ cats from her area were moved into adoption, sanctuary or other locations since 2011 with the help of a no-kill shelter and their volunteers. I first met her then when I helped trap a few times in her area as a volunteer. She currently also has 10 rescued cats, one bird, one turtle and a dog in her home. She is overwhelmed, physically and financially unable to fully vet and feed all of the outdoor cats all of the time. With your help and donations this year, I’ve been delivering cat food to her, and I’ve vetted three of her colony cats so far: Mooksie, Gorgeous George, and Wolfie.


Wolfie showed up in her colony, fairly friendly last spring. A shelter staff person trapped him for her, TNR’d him at their clinic, and returned him outside. Wolfie was on their radar for admission, but could not be admitted right away. During his TNR, the clinic noted he was injured. Jennie never received that paperwork, so she did not know about his injuries. This was just something that happened because again, Wolfie was trapped by someone who was not directly observing the colony themselves, and who was trapping a lot of cats in a lot of colonies. Jennie blames herself bitterly for this. I understand why she does, I would be the same way, but again, this was no one’s fault. It just sucks overall.


After awhile, Jennie saw that Wolfie would show up at one of her feeding stations covered in diarrhea. By this time it was summer, June, and I agreed to take him to my vet. Since he was able to be handled, she put him into a carrier instead of a trap. That day I was also taking two other cats for vetting from two other colonies. Normally I treat all cats from outside initially as ferals, no matter their temperament, but he was so sweet and friendly in the carrier. He reached for me, meowed, and clearly wanted attention.

Delivering him in a carrier was a possible mistake, but I had no idea at the time. He was so cute and friendly! Had he been brought in a trap, he would’ve been sedated and examined as a feral. Maybe then they would have noticed more of his condition, rather than being treated as an outdoor friendly cat with diarrhea, which we all assumed was caused from parasites, a common problem. Remember, we didn’t know about his internal injuries yet.


I picked up Wolfie and the other two cats after their vetting that day and dropped them all off to their three different caretakers. Since the vet was in the suburbs, basically I was in the car all day. The cats were stressed from that and their vet visit. Wolfie had a blood exam, was cleaned, and had been diagnosed with possible inflammatory bowel disease. He was sent home with meds.

A few days later I learned from the vet that during his exam and clean-up, Wolfie bit a vet tech there which sent her to the hospital. As a result, they no longer treat feral cats to this day, even though Wolfie was not a feral cat. No exceptions. I don’t blame them for this either. I offered to talk to them about feral cats, and all that we face working with them, along with all that they face working with them, but this was not the avenue they wanted to take. It is one of those things that happens that again sucks. There’s no other word for it.


Meanwhile, Jennie decided to foster Wolfie and care for him. She asked the shelter again for admission. Their vet saw him once or twice, and we then learned about the internal injuries, caused by blunt trauma, that they had discovered during his initial TNR. Had we known about these injuries, I would have told my vet about them, and possibly have avoided the whole biting mess. He most likely bit that vet tech because of the extreme pain he must have been in. Again, we all do the best we can with the information that we have at the time. Hindsight is always 20/20. Blah blah blah. You know what I mean. Again, it SUCKS.


The shelter ultimately refused admission for Wolfie based on their exam. Jennie managed to get him into another shelter called C.A.R.E. last month. Coincidentally, he was admitted with another one of her cats, Gorgeous George, that I vetted from her colonies.


They took Wolfie to their vet, who determined he had nerve and spinal damage, most likely from being hit by a car, causing the slow failure of his bladder and colon ever since. His injuries and condition were only getting worse. They humanely euthanized Wolfie last week.


RIP Wolfie. We’re thankful that despite everything that happened, we were able to prevent you from slowly dying alone on the street. We’ll continue doing everything we can to help the outdoor cats.


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Investing in Your Own Tru Catch Traps

If you can swing it, I highly recommend buying your own humane Tru Catch traps for TNR projects. You can try to fundraise specifically for them, and they are also on sale at certain times of the year.


It’s almost impossible to rent out a bunch of traps quickly in Chicago, and when you’re starting to trap a new colony, it’s a lot easier to trap a colony all at once, instead of one or two cats at a time. On average, a colony here in Humboldt Park is around 8-12 cats before TNR, in most alleys with a feeder. Sometimes a colony can be only 2-3 cats, or up to two dozen. One or two may be pregnant. A few cats may be sick. And there may be a few kittens that need to be socialized ASAP. The weather could change and make it impossible to trap. Also, a feeder sometimes changes their mind if the trapping process is taking too long. Time is of the essence with TNR. It helps to be prepared.


I learned all of that once I started TNR’ing for other people. It became apparent very quickly that it was easier for me to show up with enough traps for all of the cats quickly after I first talked to the feeder. That way they didn’t even have time to hesitate. I bought my first round of traps. IMG01418-20121127-1840

And expanded from there, including the Fat Cat Trap that Mooha was happy to demonstrate.

And now I have a decent supply of traps ready for use anytime in the garage.


In the meantime I also always stockpile carriers, newspapers, various bait, feeding lids/bowls, trap covers, blankets and towels in the garage for these projects.


Everything came in handy last night – I helped TNR a colony with two other rescue friends, Heather and Melissa. The colony is a mix of 17 cats and kittens. Armando, the feeder, also came out to help, and the process went quickly. We trapped nine cats within an hour. The rest of the colony is made up of seven kittens just a few weeks old that require additional vet care. We just learned about this colony a few days ago, and decided to go for it immediately because we were told some of the cats were pregnant. Being prepared with our own supplies paid off.

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