Joann answered a plea from PAWS Chicago to help trap a mama cat and her four kittens living in a heating vent at a low-income assisted living complex.
When we first showed up to trap last week we knew there would be more to the story, and more cats. Last year, Erica, the TNR Coordinator for PAWS Chicago, trapped and admitted seven cats from this location because they were all friendly. She recently got a call from this facility about another cat family needing help.
As of today, Joann and I trapped eleven cats and kittens there, five of which so far were directly admitted into PAWS’ adoption program! Three are currently being fostered by Joann for further socialization. Please share if you know of anyone that would like to foster or adopt these cats.
The administrators at this assisted living facility are open to TNR and let us in with our traps. They gave us access to a room facing their courtyard where the residents feed. We saw a cat right away, screaming at us and shivering in the bitter cold.
Per the residents there, she was known as the mama cat. They all feed the cats daily, and were very excited for our help. They said that at this point her kittens were weaned and able to eat on their own.
I was able to pet and pick her up, but she was wary of our carriers, so we set a trap for her separately. She went in soon enough.
We tried trapping for the kittens that day. We never saw them, so after awhile we decided to come back the next day.
In the meantime, mama cat Moonbeam was admitted into PAWS’ adoption program and adopted within a few days.
When we came back the next day, the word had spread. We were allowed to hang out in this room, and the administrators put out a “Do not feed the cats” sign for us while we trapped. The administrators are extremely helpful. Shanta made sure everyone knew who we were before we got there. Vernon, who works in maintenance, helps the residents care for the cats, and lets Joann and I know where they were seen last on the block and at what times.
This room became a sort of headquarters for us to stay warm, watch the traps, and talk to the residents. A lot of the elderly residents came to meet us and give us all kinds of opinions and advice on what was going on with the cats. In fact, a lot of them disregarded the “do not feed” signs as we found frozen chicken outside. Part of the challenge of TNR’ing this colony is that there is not a set feeding time, multiple people feed, and there are all kinds of answers as to how many cats there are in the first place. Whenever Joann and I go to trap, we hardly see any cats, just tons of paw prints, and yet we keep trapping more cats so we know they’re there.
Miss Nelson has been with us every day, and cares deeply for the cats. Eugene thought there was no way we could trap them, until I showed him the photos. Mr. Love came by, dressed all in red, to flirt with us. Miss Oona did not like to stop feeding, until she saw us trap the kittens. Another man, who cannot speak or hear, understood immediately what we were doing. He would smile and give us the thumbs up sign every time we showed him a cat in a trap. His enthusiasm and support brought tears to our eyes. At one point Joann found herself at a birthday party hosted there for a 103-year old woman. They were all initially divided on what should happen to the cats, but once they understood about TNR, they were on board. They tried to help, and some were pretty entertained by the whole thing.
We could see the cat tracks in the courtyard where the cats find shelter under the trees.
The kittens were small enough to crawl into these heating vents for warmth.
And there were drain pipes outside that they would go in and out of.
We also expanded our search and found cat tracks all over the place. There is a coach house and abandoned building on the block where they can get in and out of.
There’s a huge metal recycling plant also next door.
And this industrial lot with trucks and stacks of wood pallets.
Stacks and stacks of wood pallets. And paw prints everywhere.
So, we’ve decided to call this the Pallet Colony.
We set up traps in various locations and eventually a tortie popped her head out of one of the drain pipes in the courtyard.
She played a lot of games with us and would not go in right away. She even mocked us through the door, right under the “do not feed the cats” sign.
But hunger took over, and she went in the trap eventually. Meet Pinky.
We also trapped The Brain, a female marble tabby, that night.
They did not pass PAWS’ temperament test so far for admission. They are currently in foster care after their TNR surgery to see if they can be further socialized. PAWS provided TNR vouchers for all of these cats.
The residents kept talking about much smaller kittens so we knew we didn’t have the cat family they were referring to yet. They also keep talking about another pregnant female cat but we have never seen her.
Joann went back several times to trap, and eventually managed to get all four kittens, along with other cats no one knew about.
Bogart and Bacall are 10-week old kittens and admitted into PAWS’ adoption program.
Starchild is a feral female patched tabby and was TNReturned to the site after being recovered for a few days. She ran right for the metal recycling plant.
Moonage Daydream is also a feral female patched tabby, most likely siblings with Starchild. She was also TNReturned and ran right to the coach house.
These cats and kittens were trapped when the clinic wasn’t open for a few days, so Joann took them to her vet for a check up, vaccines, flea treatment and testing. One of the kittens also appeared sick at the time and received eye meds.
A few days later she trapped Shirley, is a 10-week old tortie who was admitted into PAWS.
As was Nelson, an adult orange male cat that turned out to be friendly and admitted directly to PAWS.
Fitzgerald is the last 10-week old kitten to be trapped and was TNR’d at PAWS today. He did not pass the temperament test but because of his age, we are currently looking for a socialization foster for him.
And Mrs. Love is a female adult orange cat trapped by surprise. She received her TNR surgery today and is currently recovering.
In the meantime Joann also purchased four Rubbermaid bin shelters for $100 from Treehouse for this colony and placed them all throughout the courtyard. The residents said the cats were already using them.
If you’d like to donate to help offset our vetting and outdoor shelter costs for this colony, $560.11 total, you can do so through the Paypal donation button at the top of this page, or through [email protected]
We are also looking for socialization fosters for Fitzgerald, Pinky and The Brain.
I’ll be back at this site next week to see if we can get any more “surprise” cats since we have no idea how many there are.