RIP Big Daddy, the Colony Cat Named in Honor of the Avondale TNR Project

When I first started talking to Kim a few months ago about all of the cats she was seeing in her colony and neighborhood of Avondale, I was determined to help her mostly because of a cat named Big Daddy. Her Big Daddy Colony is named after him to honor his memory.


Big Daddy was a colony cat that kept coming back to her yard the past two years, looking worse each time. He evaded all of her trapping efforts, and in the meantime she TNR’d 22 other cats.


Big Daddy would only come to visit Kim’s yard to feed sporadically. He was clearly sick, but still surviving.  Big_Daddy-2

Some of the following photos may be upsetting to see.


Joann helped Kim trap at the end of May and they trapped a lot of cats. In the meantime, they also trapped Big Daddy. We think that at this point he was so sick that he went into the trap because he knew he needed to. Big Daddy was dying.  Big_Daddy_atVets_1_May2016

Despite all of that they could not get near him. He was only safe to handle once he was in the trap. Kim took him straight to Roscoe Village Animal Hospital. They have been amazing. They are close to us, open seven days a week, will treat cats in traps, and we can normally get an appointment the day we call. This is all invaluable to us colony cat caregivers providing care for feral cats in traps. The low-cost clinics can only do so much. These colony cats need full service vet care.


But this vet care is expensive. Big Daddy’s total vet bill was $341. If you’d like to make a donation towards his care, you can do so through the Paypal donation link at the top of this page, or directly through with [email protected] Big_Daddy_Vet_Bill-3


Big Daddy had to be sedated for an exam because even though he was weak, he was still feral. Big_Daddy_atVets_3_May2016-3 Big_Daddy_atVets_2_May2016

He was first tested for FIV/FeLV and tested negative. We were all very surprised. They then thought he may have been coming down with pneumonia. He was underweight and very sick. A few days before he allowed himself to be trapped, Kim found him in her garden defecating on himself, but not allowing her to come near him. His body seemed to be shutting down. Any treatment would involve more tests, and most likely extensive recovery in a crate indoors. That would be very stressful for him, and the outcome was completely unknown and could not be guaranteed. They decided to humanely euthanize him instead.


RIP, Big Daddy. You were loved. We are so thankful to Kim for caring for you while you visited her garden, and letting her help you in the end. You deserved a dignified death at the end of your hard life.





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More Kittens from the Avondale TNR Project

Today we watched this mama cat move her kittens around from an abandoned garage, to outside of a basement, and back again.  IMG_7346 IMG_7347

Joann and I talked to the restaurant owner who feeds the cats, other neighbors, and the grocery store owner where some of the kittens are now. There are estimates of up to 12 kittens within these three buildings. There are more mama cats, who keep moving their kittens around because there’s a lot of activity in this alley. Cats were fighting in the garage where the kittens initially were. Children have found the kittens and tried to play with them. A group of drunk homeless men keep coming by and want to sell them. Things like that.


It was pretty overwhelming, because we spent all day today to check on traps and clean them, transport cats to the spay/neuter clinic, care for cats in traps, and take two cats needing care from a full service vet, costing $661. Just yesterday we managed to get six kittens off the street – they all went to our friend Robin’s home to foster. She is amazing. Kim managed to adopt out two other kittens from here just last week. When we saw there were even more kittens we couldn’t believe it. And there is nothing we could do for them now – they are too little and need to stay with their mamas.


We found part of one litter in this basement.  IMG_7352

We’re going to try to bring some shelters to entice the mama to stay there. Please contact us in the link at the header of this page if you’d like to assist with this project. Thanks!


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Introducing the Polska Kittens Colony from Avondale

Back in June we met the owner of a Polish restaurant in Avondale feeding three feral female cats. They would wait outside the back door in the alley for their meals.


We are calling this the Polska Kittens Colony. It is the next alley over from the Big Daddy Colony.


She fed them raw ground beef from her restaurant. We have donated beef wet cat food to her since. IMG_7838 She said they all just had kittens.


We soon saw what she was talking about.

This mama cat was moving the kittens from the garage to a basement accessible from the outdoors, and back again.


We talked to the owner of the basement as well, who owns a grocery store.  The owners of the garage were not available. Other neighbors told us that these feline families were being moved all around by the mama cats and disrupted by kids and drunk men in the alley, that they didn’t have a clear idea of how many kittens there were, or who had them. This alley is BUSY with lots of traffic and people.


We decided to let everyone be, and that Barbara, the owner of the restaurant, should call us when the kittens come out to be fed after they are weaned.


So about six weeks later in July, Barbara called on a Friday and said she saw kittens running around outside of the garage. IMG_7895

Joann went there immediately and first trapped the last female cat that we knew about from the Big Daddy Colony. Esther was pregnant and TNReturned. We couldn’t believe she was already pregnant – we had trapped her kittens in June, which were all admitted to PAWS Chicago. Here’s Esther, the mama of some of the orange creamsicle kittens. She is the 28th cat trapped from that alley this summer.


Then Joann and Kim trapped all three lactating mama female cats and six little kittens at the Polish restaurant.


Here’s Abby the Tabby.


Sterling. IMG_0798

And Tabitha, the star of the video moving all of the kittens around. IMG_0808

These mama cats were kept for recovery for a few extra days in Kim’s laundry room. IMG_0816

They also trapped six kittens: Harley, Jordan, Payton, Penelope, Poe, and Shakespeare. We guessed they were from 2-3 litters because of their sizes. It’s really hard to tell when you are not the one who is feeding the cats yourself, or have a set location for the colony. The kittens were trapped, three to a trap. IMG_0772 IMG_0773

Kim and Elissa started socializing and fostering them. IMG_0794 IMG_0778

One of the black kittens had this gummy gunk all over his side. It has since been combed out. Who knows what the heck they were getting into in that garage! IMG_0788

Some of the kittens were quickly ready for their close-ups! IMG_0007 IMG_0042 IMG_0013 IMG_0010

Then on Monday, Joann got a call from Barbara saying she found another kitten. Joann went to trap him immediately. Kitten #7, Lucky Johnny, was absolutely frantic, meowing his head off after being alone all weekend.


Long-time supporter, Kati E., donated and sponsored his care. Thank you, Kati!


All seven of these kittens are being fostered currently by Kim, and went to PAWS Chicago for their first round of vaccinations on Monday. They will be admitted for adoption in August. They are currently being fostered by Elissa. IMG_7990 IMG_7981 Then, on Wednesday of this week, Joann got ANOTHER call from Barbara about two more kittens there. Joann again went to trap immediately, and got THREE more kittens.


Meet Rutabega, Radish and Turnip. All three of them were at PAWS today for their first vet appointment, and will also be admitted to PAWS Chicago’s adoption program in August. IMG_0249

We think we now have all of the kittens, but Barbara will call us if she sees more or other intact cats. We have now trapped 38 cats and kittens from the Avondale TNR Project in tow alleys. Almost half of these cats will be admitted to PAWS Chicago and adopted into indoor homes, rather than living on the streets. If you’d like to help us traps cats, foster or make a donation, please call us at 773-609-2287. Thank you!











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RIP Gringa, Another Dead Cat Found in Avondale

Gringa, a TNR’d colony cat, was found dead outside Saturday by the Avondale alley we are trapping in.


Gringa was a beautiful cat already TNR’d by Erica from PAWS before we started this project. Gringa was being fed regularly by George, a man who drives from somewhere else to feed in this alley twice a day.


Joann got to know Gringa during last week when she was trying to trap intact cats there with a drop trap. IMG_0149

Gringa had a lot of fun playing with the string. FullSizeRender-6 copy

In true small world fashion, although we didn’t know it at the time, our friend Maribeth B. found Gringa’s body on Saturday, talked to neighbors, and placed her in a dumpster because she didn’t know what else to do. Maribeth lives close to this project and we’ve been in touch throughout.


The following photos may be upsetting to some people.



unnamed IMG_7730

Before we knew that happened, though, another neighbor called Joann about Gringa. Joann and Kim went to retrieve the body. This is the second dead cat found in this area in the past week. Joann saw the blood left behind where Gringa was on the parkway. IMG_7731

Joann and Kim took Gringa to MedVet Chicago, just like Ivan. The vet determined this time that Gringa was definitely hit and killed by a car. There were tire tread marks on her body.


The vet was pretty shook up himself. He said that in the past three days, he has seen six cats hit by cars, most of them were people’s pets. We don’t know of their outcomes. But he said that in 35 years of practice as a vet, this past week has been the hardest on him. I implore everyone to keep their pet cats inside. This is not just “weird coincidences” happening at this colony. This is happening everywhere. Of course, colony cats need to remain outside because they are feral. Being hit by a car is one of the many dangers they face, but like other wild animals, a lot of them know to fear and avoid cars.


MedVet was able to dispose of her body properly and without charge. We are so grateful for their help.


Later that day we talked to Maribeth, and figured out that Gringa was the cat she found earlier. We are grateful that neighbors are trying to watch out for these cats.


RIP, Gringa.







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RIP Ivan, Colony Cat from Avondale

Ivan is the second cat that has died since we started the Avondale TNR Project. With every TNR project of this size – here we are talking about estimates of 50 cats within three blocks – there are always inevitably sad endings along with the happy ones.


Ivan was trapped and taken to the clinic on May 31st for his TNR treatment. He was feral and his surgery went without a hitch. He was returned back outside to the colony after recovery without a problem, along with a few other TNR’d adult feral cats. They are all healthy, even tested FIV-/FeLV-, and have lots of feeders and garages for shelter.  IMG_7597

The next photos may be upsetting to people, so consider this a warning.


Last weekend Joann got a call from George, the feeder who is trying to stop us from trapping, to say he found a dead cat in the alley. He was furious, and most likely blames us for killing this cat. He also texted Erica from PAWS this photo of Ivan’s dead body, without an explanation. Can you imagine? Dead_cat George also then called Erica and screamed at her for twenty minutes about us and the cats. She has been trying to help him for the past few years now with TNR. We wish we could get him to listen to us, but at this point there is no time or reasoning with him. We want to concentrate on helping the cats as much as possible with the time we have. The only good thing is that at least he called to tell us. Even when the outcome is tragic, it is better to know what happened, rather than just having a cat disappear. When Joann talked to George and other residents, they said someone already threw out his body. Joann and Kim searched the alley and found his body in this dumpster, right near where we’ve been trapping this past month. RIP


This is not the proper way to dispose of an animal’s dead body. Also, they wanted to make sure to scan him for a microchip so that we were absolutely sure that this was Ivan.


Joann took him to MedVet Chicago. They scanned him for his microchip, and examined him. They did not find any signs of trauma or broken bones. They found his mouth was clenched shut and full of blood. They thought he may have died of rat poisoning, but said they could not tell for sure without a necropsy, which costs $900 there. They then disposed of him free of charge. We are very grateful for their help and compassion in this matter. clinic


Ivan also may have died from trauma from being hit by a car. I have found other cats like this, and so have other trappers. Cats get a glancing blow to the head or body, and then die a day or two later from internal bleeding. Yes, a necropsy is needed to know for sure.


RIP, Ivan. We wished we could’ve helped you sooner, but we know you are free of pain now. We will keep trying to help the rest of the cats in this area with TNR.

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Avondale Kittens are Ready for their Close-Ups

We brought the kittens from the Avondale TNR Project to PAWS Chicago for their second round of vaccinations. They ended up needing a little more vetting than that.


These kittens are hilarious. Robin has been fostering them and keeping track of their shenanigans. She sent us photos, and I couldn’t tell them apart. I was convinced she was sending me photos of the same two kittens, when in fact there’s six of them. They stayed with me the other night in my bathroom because we had to drive them to PAWS for their vet appointment the next day.


When you see them in person, then it makes more sense. There are some true look-alikes in there. Also, they’re hard to keep track of and rarely stop moving, in true kitten fashion. Robin said that when they run they look and sound like “a herd of stampeding orange elephants.”


My bathroom is tiny so they didn’t have as many places to go to. In the morning I found them all in the sink. IMG_7627

Yes, there’s five kittens in there. The sixth orange one was who knows where at this point.



Some of the kittens are more relaxed than others, and they started posing for close-ups.  IMG_7629 IMG_7634

Some are more fearful than others, like this tiny little guy, but it really depends on what situation they’re in. Robin has been working really hard on socializing them. IMG_7632

Basically there are two litters, and the older, larger litter is more social at this point.


In the car and carriers somehow they are even more hard to keep track of. The orange ones were all over the place. It was like an orange kitten convention.
IMG_7645 IMG_7647 IMG_7659

The creamsicle kittens were more photogenic this time. IMG_7656 IMG_7651

Joann and I took them to PAWS where they determined that all six kittens are boys! They received their second round of vaccinations, and saw they were starting to get URI, upper respiratory infections. They sent them all home with two weeks worth of doxycycline. They are back with Robin who is busy socializing them more and administering the meds daily for each of them. She is amazing!


Their next appointment at PAWS is this June 30th.



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All Six Avondale Kittens Are Ready for Second Round of Vaccines

Robin F. has been fostering the six kittens trapped from the Avondale TNR Project ever since they were first brought to PAWS Chicago’s clinic.


We are so grateful to have her as a foster and her expertise in socializing! The kittens have come a long way since being born in an old garage in Avondale. They were pretty scared when they were first trapped.


Now they’re all very playful, although some are still more shy than others. IMG_3370


I still can’t tell them apart, but I’m hoping to remedy that tonight. Joann and I are picking them up now from Robin’s house, and they’re going to spend the night here at my house. Then tomorrow we’re taking them to PAWS for their second round of vaccinations and possible admission. Fingers crossed their appointment goes well!


Check out their head shots. Yes, every single one of these is a different kitten. IMG_7518 IMG_3333 IMG_3331 IMG_3330 IMG_3328 IMG_3327

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Sick and Injured Avondale Cat Now Vetted and in Foster Home

Reese is one of the 17 cats and kittens trapped so far and from the Avondale TNR Project. Six kittens are in foster care, and most of the adults were TNR’d. There are many more cats outside there.


Reese was pretty relaxed outside. IMG_7311

When Reese came back from the clinic he slept in the trap the entire time. It was weird – we were concerned, but as soon as we woke him up, he would scarf down food. And then go back to sleep again. IMG_7301 Not only is that a friendly behavior, but it seemed excessive. Kim agreed to keep an eye on him for a few extra days in the trap.


If he wasn’t sleeping, he was just relaxing. IMG_7310 IMG_7333

Then Kim saw this on his back.


I brought Reese to a full service vet with another cat from my area I trapped that also needed medical care.


They determined that it was a skin plaque. Since it was intact and we weren’t sure yet if he was going back outside, it wasn’t a cause for concern.


But they found a bite wound on his left front leg, and he also had an URI, upper respiratory infection. He was treated with antibiotics. He also tested FIV+.


Reese is currently being fostered inside by Kim. Please let us know if you’d like to meet him! IMG_0564 IMG_7878

His medical bill is $268 so far. If you’d like to help, please donate through Paypal at [email protected]


Thanks for your support!



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Thanks to Robin for Fostering the Avondale Kittens!

Robin F. agreed to foster and socialize all six of the kittens from the Avondale TNR Project that were trapped last week.


Joann spent Memorial Day picking up the kittens from the clinic and dropping them straight off to Robin. The photos are just now starting to trickle in. First up is this adorable orange boy. IMG_7401 IMG_7402

Robin is a pro – she already holds the esteemed title of the Fischer School of Feral Felines Socialization for us.


We can’t wait to see more! We are so grateful to Robin! So far 16 cats have been trapped here, and with her help, less than half of them will be returned back outside so far. TNR works!

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Helping Sherbert, a Senior Colony Cat, Get Full Medical Care

Sherbert showed up sick, dirty and disheveled while we were trapping for the Avondale TNR Project. His fur and ears were filthy, and his breathing was congested. IMG_0900 He’s the 55th cat we trapped for vetting in Avondale so far, but he is the first one that was already TNR’d by someone else, as you can see by his ear tip. IMG_8477

It was clear something was wrong. But he was trap savvy, and one night Joann used a drop trap.


It worked, but he acted so strangely in it. He would not move, and just laid down in it, almost as if he was playing dead. We didn’t know if he was just exhausted or scared, or both. IMG_8470

Eventually he went into the regular Tru-catch Trap. IMG_8368

I took him the next day to Roscoe Village Animal Hospital. First they determined he was FIV-/FeLV-. Then they went ahead and updated him on his vaccinations and treated him with antibiotics for a URI, cleaned his ears, and gave him Revolution for fleas. They also did bloodwork to determine his overall health status.  IMG_8487

In the meantime they traced his microchip to Tree House, who has been attempting to reach the person who TNR’d him in the first place four years ago.


The vet said it was clear that Sherbert is pretty much a senior cat, and his teeth were really, really bad, most likely causing stomatitis. This explained why he might have been so dirty – this condition is painful and cats stop grooming themselves as a result. It is also painful for them to eat. They recommended he get a full dental, but first he needed to recover from his infection.


Kim put Sherbert up in my feral cat recovery lounge in her house so that he could eat and sleep as much as he needed with a little more room for comfort. This lounge is a dog crate and trap attached together so that feral cats can be moved easily from one part to the other. I have used it for several feral cats during their recovery. IMG_8424

He’s doing well in the crate, but he hasn’t shown any signs of friendliness so far. I know this photo is dark, but you can see they really cleaned up his fur.


I am planning on taking him back to a vet for a full dental next week so that he can hopefully eat without pain in the future. We are getting quotes from a few vets because the highest one so far was for $1500.


There are a lot of feeders in this area and people who let their unfixed pet cats outside, which is really why there are so many colony cats. Without comprehensive TNR, the feline population has exploded here. We are doing what we can to help Kim get the population under control. So far we’ve reduced the population in three alleys by almost half in three months because of TNAdoption for friendly cats and kittens along with TNReturn for feral cats.


In the meantime, I’m a firm believer that feral cats deserve full medical care as well. If something is treatable, it will get done, just like with a pet cat. I will post the total cost after the procedure next week. If you would like to donate for his $489 vet bill so far and his upcoming dental, you can do so through PayPal at [email protected] or at the donate link at the top of this page. Thank you!

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