Helping Hoarder Houses: Update on the Creole Colony

Last week Tanya took three more cats from Danny’s house to be TNR’d at the clinic. So far we have TNR’d 14 adult cats from inside and outside of his house, and admitted five kittens into a shelter.


This latest round of three cats came from his enclosed back porch. This is a tiny slice of what it looks like. There is no heat or air conditioning back there. I don’t know if the windows are ever opened. IMG_0761

Fat Tabby, male, and totally friendly. IMG_1206

Pretty Girl, female and pregnant. IMG_1197

And Buffalo, male, with some untreated conjunctivitis and a very infected canine tooth. He was sent home with l-lysine, and we were advised he needed additional medical treatment. IMG_1213

I came with Tanya to drop the cats back off. Danny was prepared to put them back onto that same back porch.


Rudy showed up while we were talking to Danny. His conjunctivitis looked much worse than when we first TNR’d him. IMG_1221

Which led to a discussion about the care and medical treatment needed for the cats. Danny is still not willing to relinquish any indoor cats. Even if he was willing, we have nowhere to take them. I have asked several organizations so far for help.


During this talk, Danny mentioned kittens on the back porch, which was news to us. In addition, he said there were eight cats in his kitchen. We figured out three of those cats were most likely the cats we took in for TNR the previous time, but the remaining five cats were a mystery.


Also, Princess, the feral mama cat that used to be outside, was now also in his house, specifically in the room with Rudy. Obviously she was going to get sick from Rudy.


Danny said we could NOT spay or neuter all of the cats in the kitchen. Especially two or three cats that he kept referring to. We were not allowed to see these cats. We are still not allowed to see the “three cats” he also keeps referring to on the second floor.


Tanya and I assumed he did not want us to see the kitchen cats because they were pregnant.


It turned out we were very wrong. It’s worse than that.


Based on this conversation, Heather and I decided to visit Danny again on Friday night.


We were there for three hours, and it really did not go well overall, but some progress was made. Danny was very upset when we walked up because I was carrying a folder. I believe he thought the folder was perhaps some sort of correspondence complaining about his house. I have no idea, and of course I have no authority to do that. The folder was just all of the photos I’ve printed out of the cats that we know about so far, listing their medical conditions, so that we knew which cat we were talking about and to avoid confusion. Obviously Danny still does not trust us at all. It is also obvious now he has dealt with complaints about his house in the past, and people have been in there. He said he knew we were “investigating” and looking at everything in his house, which is why we’re not allowed inside anymore. In reality, all we have been looking for so far is the cats. Until Friday, we have never commented on anything else in his house.


During this conversation, the other outdoor mama cat we had our eye on obviously had her kittens again because she was now skinny. She laid around outside and checked us out almost the entire time we were there, but we have no idea where her kittens are. At least two other outdoor cats also came by during this time that we had not seen before. IMG_1293

Danny showed us the other indoor kittens on the back porch. There are six total, although it’s hard to see the tortie and black kittens in this photo. They are sitting on a garbage bag filled with leaves. Danny said they were born in the bag. He insisted on climbing up on an eight foot ladder balanced against a wall to turn on the light. I was scared the entire time he was going to fall off this ladder.

IMG_1294 Mama is feral and carefully watched us the entire time. IMG_1301

They are all next to this litter box. IMG_1296

All of the litter boxes and the entire back porch looks like this.


This is when the conversation started to go south. Danny showed Heather the other cats on the back porch, admitting that one was actually born there, and lived there his entire life there. When I saw that cat, he was hiding up in the rafters. This story pretty much destroyed me.


There may be more than one cat like that. This is the one I think he was talking about. IMG_0758

At this point, we have TNR’d three cats from the back porch. There are at least two or three more cats to be TNR’d from there, as well as the six kittens, that we know of. For now, he has agreed to relinquish the six kittens when they are weaned.


Then we started asking again about the cats in the rest of the house. For now, Danny will admit to three cats on the second floor. We have never seen the second floor, and so far, according to Danny, we never will, because it is “his” house. He has admitted to three cats up there, all of which were his brother’s cats. His brother died several years ago. We have no idea what the second floor looks like. We have no idea what those 3+ cats look like.


As for the cats on the main floor, Danny mentioned there are eight cats in the kitchen. I still have not seen the kitchen, and did not react positively to the news. I think there are three cats there that are now fixed.


But the remaining cats are not pregnant as we feared.


On Friday, Danny admitted that they are sick. We have no idea what that means because so far he will not let us see them.


We talked to Danny for a long time on Friday night. During this talk, he was mostly very angry and even threatened to harm Heather. Heather and I have no idea if we are doing or saying the right things. We are trying to talk to him as neighbors and friends. We understand that professional help is needed at this point, but there is no help like this that we know of. I have learned that while working on other hoarder projects here, because believe me, I’ve reached out to other organizations. In fact, these kinds of projects are REFERRED TO ME. I have not written too much about those other projects until now because they are emotionally exhausting and have consumed me. This is way beyond than what the average person should be doing on their own, and I’m hopeful in the future that some day there will be professional help for these situations. I’m very thankful to have Heather trying to help this entire time. I could not do this without her. The only organization that deals with hoarders locally that I could find online is this task force that was formed in Elgin. We definitely need a Cook County Hoarding Task Force.


Danny has admitted a lot of things to us that are very concerning. He believes he is doing the best for these cats, including whether they live or die in his house. He can not/will not afford to take the cats for medical care. They are “better off” dying in his house. We don’t know what that means because he will not elaborate. He has buried all of the cats that have died in his care in his backyard. He told us he will continue taking in any friendly cats from outside into his home.


Despite everything we have tried, he does not trust us, and fights us every step of the way. At the same time, he still answers the phone when we call, still opens the gate when we arrive, and still agrees to relinquish any kittens to us.


Admittedly, he feeds the cats regularly. That is pretty common with habitual feeders. But he believes the cats are better off in his care. As an example, he yelled at us about the feral mom and kittens that Tanya fostered for him because they were in a dog crate. He believes cages are cruel. He did not agree when we pointed out that his entire back porch is a filthy “cage” that the cats are trapped in, and that the kittens in a crate were better off than kittens born in a plastic garbage bag filled with garbage.


I am hopeful that today Danny will let us pick up and take the two to three cats from his kitchen as planned for vetting. It remains to be seen what will happen.


Along with the cats, Danny is completely overwhelmed by his job, which consists of various heavy manual labor, underpaid “handyman” projects. He is of retirement age but said he needs to keep working because of the cats. In addition, he is caring for his 92-year old mother who has bedridden and has cancer. She lives in this house with him and the cats. So asides from the problems with the cats, there are many other issues that require help from mental health professionals.


Keep in mind we live fairly close to Danny, and are trying to reach out to him as neighbors. I actually ran into Danny at the grocery store over the weekend after this talk. He was not pleased to see me, even though I just asked how he was doing, etc. After some small talk, he was the one who brought up the subject of the cats, and was very defensive. He kept saying that he will pay for any vetting and that he does not need “handouts.” He obviously does not see me as a friend who wants to help, and I’m not sure what else to do about that.


When Heather called him last night to remind him about our vet appointment, all he did was scream at her and make excuses. He no longer wants to bring the cats to the clinic himself. But Heather was still was able to convince him that she will pickup the cats herself then.


In the meantime, we are so grateful for your support. Thank you to all for your kind word and support, and who have donated to help us help Danny, including Erin G, Lora M, Ingrid H, Joann S, Danielle G, Maryann C, Susanne K, Lisa M, Madonna I, Liz B, Kati E, Susan K, Debra R, Susan W, and Nancy H, and as always thanks to Dorota Z, Carlin R, Ben M, and Barb G for their continued monthly support.


If you have any experience with hoarders, or have any questions about this project, or would like to help, please contact me at [email protected]



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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]






[email protected]


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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Mel, a Dumped Pet Cat, Gets TNR’d and Finds Another Home

Back in April we helped Katarina find her lost declawed pet cat, Nico. Another neighbor, Steve, eventually found Nico on his property.


In the meantime we TNR’d two other cats while we set out traps for Nico.


One of those cats was Bailey.  img_5276

I wasn’t surprised to trap these other cats. There are a lot of colonies in this area that I TNR’d and helped vet cats from, including the Cell Phones Colony and the Creole Colony, a hoarder home that has intact cats going in and out of constantly.


Bailey seemed friendly, but he was scared stiff and would not move, so we returned him outside. Then in July, I got a call from a vet tracing Bailey’s microchip to me, who said Bailey was brought in with a wound on his leg.


The person who brought Bailey to the vet was Steve, the man who found Nico!


Steve took care of all of the vet bills for Bailey. He called Bailey, Mel, and said he has been hanging out in his yard since last winter. We think we now know which house Mel came from and those neighbors left him when they moved, but Mel was acting feral at first. Steve had been trying to TNR him also, but then Mel showed up with the tell-tale ear tip from when we TNR’d him. And as the hormones left his body from being neutered, Mel became more and more friendly.


Really friendly. Check him out in Steve’s gorgeous outdoor patio.  img_7998 img_8006

And as you can see, Mel’s white coat is now whiter than ever. img_8003

Mel hung out with Steve’s two black colony cats, although they didn’t all exactly get along. img_8004

The difference was that Mel now allowed Steve to handle him. img_8001

So Steve asked around and eventually found Mel a home with two other friends, where he continues to do well and enjoys being back indoors. Thank you for all that you do, Steve! img_8839

I’m so grateful to have met yet another animal-loving neighbor! TNR is all about networking with your neighbors to help the community cats, and microchipping helps even more. Otherwise I would never have know what happened to Bailey, aka Mel.



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43 Cats and Counting

We’re still not totally sure how many cats and kittens are within the Creole Colony and Danny’s house. Currently Heather and I have counted up to 43 felines that we know about.


But we’ve made a lot of progress the last two weeks. Six more adult cats were spayed/neutered, and ten additional kittens were pulled from the site. Before that we TNR’d 14 adults and admitted five kittens into Tree House. There are still a few more that we know about but have never seen. I don’t doubt there are even still more that he never told us about.


Last time I wrote about this hoarder situation, Danny was asking us to bring in three sick cats to the clinic. When Heather went to pick them up, he gave her two cats, Blackie and Big Yellow.


They turned out not be sick at all. They had fleas, ear mites, and some dental disease, but overall they looked great and even tested negative for FIV/FeLV. Blackie


In fact, they were healthy enough to be neutered, but this had to be scheduled at another time. When Heather brought the cats back to Danny he was fine in paying the $95 exam fee and agreed to have the cats neutered the following week. Then he admitted that there were four kittens in his kitchen, about a month old. He hid that from us previously.


He also said he was going to “steal four cats from a bad situation,” and that we could bring them in for spay/neuter surgeries once he got them. We had no idea what that meant. Heather pleaded with him not to do that.


But Heather made six s/n appointments for the following week in preparation just in case. We were really hoping he would not “steal” any more cats. Danny obviously doesn’t need more cats.


The next week he did indeed have six cats ready in traps and carriers ready for our friend Tanya to pick up. Blackie, Yellow, and four cats that he did not steal. Now he admitted these four cats actually were already in his house, he just never told us about them. It is ironic that Danny keeps accusing us of deceiving him, when he is the one who consistently lies, telling us each different stories.


All six adult cats received full TNR packages, including Blackie and Yellow. IMG_1598

And the four “new” cats, including Mone. IMG_1596

Little Princess. IMG_1597

Sonny Boy. IMG_1599

And Yellow. IMG_1600

He also relinquished the four kittens from the kitchen. They were admitted to Tree House. IMG_1595 11206828_10153227992814098_8632979580816268043_o

Unfortunately they also tested positive for ringworm, so the shelter is currently (and understandably) unable to admit the other six kittens from the back porch because they are from the same house. This was a kick in the teeth for us because the longer Danny holds onto a cat, the less likely he will relinquish them. We did not want him to bond with the kittens.


Heather worked really hard and managed to find a foster for these six kittens. They will be tested for ringworm, although we are crossing our fingers that they will test negative. The process takes weeks.


Tonight Heather and I went to Danny’s house to pick them up. They are absolutely gorgeous. IMG_1608

Sadly our conversation with Danny was once again very disturbing. The cat that was born in the back porch and lived there his entire life is sick. Danny brought him to his vet and he is staying there overnight.


Danny also talked about the cats that have died under his care. It seems like he sometimes brings to the vet, but sometimes he doesn’t. He definitely loves them, but he is delusional about the care that he gives them.


I don’t doubt he loves the cats, because he is always talking about protecting them. And frankly they are all he has. Whenever he talks about anything else in his life that doesn’t have to do with the animals, it is clear he is extremely angry, stressed out and exhausted. He talked about moving away with his cats because it is so difficult to care for his sick mother. She needs full time care, and he is getting very little help with that. They argue constantly. There is another elderly man that lives there as well that he cares for. This man’s family needs to step in. Danny’s family needs to step in.


Danny does favors constantly for people on his block, and they take advantage of him. At the same time, he is letting them. He is not caring for himself properly, and as a result, has become extremely bitter. It is very difficult to discuss these things with him, but it is clear he wants to talk. He is letting it out on us, although I assume if we were to suggest any sort of therapy he would refuse. So we just listen, make suggestions if we can, and try to move forward. We’re also struggling with our own emotions during these conversations because our focus is on the animals. It is heartbreaking to hear about how they die under his care.


At this point it’s also clear how much he trusts Heather during these conversations. He looks at her mostly. I am more of the enforcer – I ask specific questions to peel back the layers of his story to get to the truth. He knows that, but he is also answering me, and we take it with a grain of salt. He chooses to forget some of the truth. He was horrified by the cardboard carrier box we brought for the kittens. He does not want them to go into any sort of “cage,” so we led him to believe that the kittens will be free to roam in Heather’s house. It’s the only way to get him to comply.


In the midst of this conversation, he also mentioned he knew where the outdoor mama calico cat keeps her kittens. They are now weaned. We are hoping to also get them admitted to a shelter, and to TNR the mama cat.


We also made appointments for the two remaining mama cats indoors with him to be spayed next week. We are hoping that the sick back porch cat will be well enough to be neutered as well. But we are also assuming that there may be more “surprises” and more cats to be fixed. We are taking it week by week for now.



Barb G says:

Wow, this is such a complicated situation… I wish we could trust that some “senior assistance” could be gotten from the City for him, but getting the city involved in anything can end badly. He probably could use “housekeeper” help. Is there at least a visiting nurse who looks in on the elderly woman?
We can only hope that keeping the focus on the cats may eventually get him to open up to the idea of getting some help, even if it’s only people giving him a hand with the housework and elder care…. God bless you guys for your good work!

Maryann Collins says:

You and Heather have achieved amazing things here. I am so impressed. If cats built things, they would make a huge statue in honor of you both. Of course, they would probably also bring dead rodents to place at its base as a token of appreciation.

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Rescue with Your Neighbors

Yesterday was a great day for rescue here.


Joann and I trapped four cats at the new Chester Colony within an hour. They’re awaiting surgery at the clinic tomorrow. We’re going back to the site tonight hoping to get a few more, but these were the only cats we saw there yesterday. Their feeder, Chester, is not quite sure how many cats there are. He just feeds whatever cats come to his yard from his window. He didn’t even want us to trap at first, but then he was on board. We ended up not trapping in his yard, anyways, all four cats were trapped in the alley.


Can you tell they’re related or what?

In the meantime, Heather and Tanya were busy convincing Danny from the Creole Colony to let them get the kittens and their mama calico cat. This feline family is what brought us to Danny in the first place. The original six kittens were born in Tanya’s window sill, but then the mama became spooked when a kitten fell out and died. The mama kept moving her kittens around the block. We met Danny and his colony when we went around the neighborhood looking for the kittens.


Danny found the kittens under a neighbor’s porch, and bonded with them without really telling us. We were worried he was going to eventually take them into his home. Danny finally relented and let Tanya and Heather take the five kittens, mostly because we explained that he will at least be able to get the mama calico back. They set a trap for the mama, and they trapped her within a half hour. The entire family is now crated safely in Tanya’s house. They will be fostered and adopted out. The mama calico will be TNReturned. IMG_0981 IMG_0982 IMG_0983

These colonies take patience and perseverance, especially when you are met with opposition from the feeders. Hopefully we will be able to continue moving forward and get all of the cats spayed/neutered.

Jean Gladstone says:

Is Danny back on board? If the previous kittens died at Treehouse, could you tell him you promise to take the others to PAWS? (No insult meant to Treehouse.) Maybe he’d be more willing if it is a different facility.

Vanessa says:

Right now everything is a negotiation with Danny, but he is currently on board again. Your suggestion makes sense and I may try it. Thanks, Jean!

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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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Saving Sanderson: Community Outreach and TNR

We trapped again at the Pallet Colony this week. As usual with TNR, there were a few surprises. But we think now we have a good relationship to make this an established, well cared for colony.


One of the places that feeds the cats there is an assisted living center. In preparation for trapping, Joann called to let them know to stop feeding.  They told us they brought in a cat from outside and wanted us to take him.


Joann went to collect the cat and had no idea what to expect. It turned out an employee brought this cat from her home in Indiana and had him waiting in her car all day, without a carrier. This employee has two mama cats at home with two litters of kittens, seven weeks old and two weeks old. Sanderson showed up from outside her house and wanted to nurse on one of the mama cats. She didn’t want this cat, so she thought we would take him.


Well, of course we did, because this woman did not have any other plans for this cat otherwise. It was a total coincidence that Joann called even that same day. Thank goodness Sanderson turned out to be a friendly, healthy love bug. Just look at him. IMG_6904

Had he been feral, we would have had nowhere to return him. He is a purring machine that begged for attention. He spent the night here and when PAWS Chicago met him, they agreed to admit him into their adoption program. Thank you, PAWS!


We have trapped 20 cats so far at this colony site. Nine of those cats and kittens were admitted to PAWS. Sanderson is the 10th cat admitted for adoption, although obviously he is not really from this colony.


We know he’ll be adopted in two seconds. We all fell in love with him. This cat was cooped up all day in a car, and was absolutely fine – just wanted us to hold him and not be left alone again. IMG_6909

We are also working with PAWS to help counsel this employee and find help for the rest of the animals in her house. Right now she does not want them spayed and neutered – she believes every animal should have two litters first. This is where community outreach is crucial while you are doing TNR. Obviously people cannot just bring us animals and expect us to take them. We totally lucked out with getting Sanderson admitted.


Joann also called Ron, another feeder on that block, to tell him to stop feeding so that we could trap cats. Ron feeds the cats and they hang out in his yard and the other yards because there are tons of places for them to hide and find shelter. They climb in and around all of those porches. IMG_6933

Ron also has some sort of substance abuse problem. Anyone who does TNR regularly has dealt with stuff like this. I’ve dealt with it before, and in this case, I’m just happy he doesn’t have cats in his house. Those situations turn into hoarder houses a lot of times.


There are usually a lot of cats in low income neighborhoods and lots of people feed them. We do the best to help, but personal safety is paramount. Ron asks for money each time we come, and we’ve complied and given him donations of cat food as well.


He also has a lot of other men show up randomly at his house. Yesterday was no exception.


We set up traps all over the assisted living center, and in Ron’s yard. IMG_6926

Immediately the cats started poking their head out from underneath his porch.


We have TNR’d a lot of the cats there already, but we wanted to see if we can get any more that we may have missed. In the meantime, one of Ron’s visitors had a lot to say about how we were trapping. He wanted us to bring him food and drinks. He had his own plan to get the cats in the traps, but then he disappeared for awhile and did nothing.


It was very obvious the cats were fed. They circled and played all around the traps for a few hours. We caught one ear tipped cat and released her.  Some more people showed up periodically and randomly walked through the yard and in the alley where we were parked. We talked to each of them about what we were doing. I wish I had a high zoom video camera to tape the cats, they were pretty entertaining, but we didn’t get any new cats.


When we started rounding up the traps to go home, three of Ron’s visitors came out. This time I felt nervous because I was alone in the gangway with them. The man who said we were doing it wrong showed me some cat food cans in his pocket, said he was going to get the cats, and asked when we were going to take them. He said he was going to keep them in crates. I had no idea what he was talking about as he was leaving in an entirely opposite direction, but I told him firmly that we were not coming back. I was scared he was going to do something with the cats otherwise, not hurt them on purpose or anything, but I have no intention of working out a plan with him. It was apparent that I had no say in these plans. But really, it’s doubtful he was going to do anything anyways.


Instead, Joann and I are again working more with the assisted living center to set up a permanent feeding station and schedule for the cats in their secure and safe courtyard next door. We already provided them with outdoor cat shelters. Hopefully then these cats, and any new ones, can be cared for there. We want them to call us for help with new cats, or medical needs for existing cats. We are happy to donate cat food as well. The residents and staff there really care for the cats and with a proper plan in place for colony management we are confident this can be accomplished.



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