Thankful Another Colony Cat is Off the Street

Patches was adopted indoors this week by another neighbor!


Patches was part of the Eleanor Rigby Colony that I started TNR’ing in 2008. Her feline friend, Clover, was just adopted indoors last month. Now a neighbor on that same block just took Patches inside. This means that since 2008, 18 cats and kittens have been spayed/neutered, and now the colony is down to ONE cat. TNR works!


Patches was always very motivated by food. Here she is eating on the ground before the monorail cats. monorailcats

She’s on the left here, the first day I met this colony and started trapping. She’s watching me to see if it’s ok to eat.  DSC03496 Patches was easy to trap and bring in for her TNR treatment. She was always very skittish with me, but she bonded to her feeders. This colony moved through three feeders on their block. When the cats started being fed by a woman named Casey, Patches and Clover bonded to each other, and then bonded to Casey’s family. Patches loves her son. 551171_10200922588963066_566223173_n

And their dog. 1236965_10200810788688129_1172783251_n And then she loved going inside with them. 577799_10201593388412633_628489878_n

But when the weather is nice out, Patches enjoyed the outdoors. Who could blame her? Casey provided daily food and water. IMG_1476

Casey had a heated outdoor shelter for the cats in her yard. The colony cats also used the shelters under the original feeder’s porch. As the colony got smaller through the years, Patches was the only one who used these shelters. IMG_4925

As it got colder this past month, perhaps Patches had enough of winter, because she has now been indoors all week with her new family. She meowed at first, but settled in within two days. 10805293_10203538151030483_1539061207_n

The one remaining TNR’d cat outside is fed by yet another neighbor on another block, and that cat pretty much stays in their yard all the time, and is basically their outdoor cat. Casey also donated her heated shelter to them since she no longer has cats to feed outside.


I’ve left the shelter and tarp under the porch just in case another cat ever shows up, but there has not been a “new” cat on this block since 2010.


I will always check on this location periodically, but as fas as I’m concerned, this colony is a wrap. It’s done! All of the hard work of TNR has paid off, proving that it works – it is the most effective, humane way to control the stray and feral cat overpopulation outdoors.


I could not be more thankful this holiday season.

Dawn says:

yayy, but now Im worried the one remaining cat will be lonely : )

Happy Thanksgiving

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The Story of Clover: From Outdoor Cat, to Mama Cat, to Colony Cat, to Indoor Cat

Last week brought incredible news: Clover was adopted off the street.


Clover was part of the Eleanor Rigby Colony. I started TNR there in December of 2008 for an overwhelmed, disabled, elderly feeder named Rosemary. This is part of what the colony looked like then. Clover is all the way in the back on the left. Her friend Patches is to the right.


Rosemary let me do whatever I wanted. I set traps all winter and stayed in her house for hours waiting for the cats to go in for TNR. I TNR’d eight cats, but did not get Clover.


I made four outdoor cat shelters and put them under Rosemary’s porch. That following summer, Clover had five kittens in one of the shelters.


They were tiny. The family stayed under the porch. Kittens 6-21-09

And even moved  to another shelter under the porch. DSC04294


At first I wanted to wait until the kittens were weaned before bringing them inside for socialization and adoption. Clover acted feral and I did not want to stress her out. But, one kitten disappeared. And then I found another one dying. I rushed the kitten to the vet but s/he died on the way. I decided to bring the remaining cat family inside. This time, Clover was easy to trap. Clover was always protective of her kittens, and never sought attention from me. DSC04390 The little grey and white kitten in back also died after I brought him inside. The two other kittens in front were sick with URI but pulled through. Once they were weaned, three weeks after being inside with me, I TNR’d Clover and reunited her with her colony at Rosemary’s house. DSC04469

The kittens were eventually admitted into Tree House. Their admission was delayed until they were a bit older, because their neuter surgeries were complicated – one kitten had a heart murmur, and the other kitten has an allergic reaction to the anesthesia. But Charlie Angel and Captain Jack finally made it. Clover was a very healthy cat, but her kitten’s illnesses showed how hard it is for them to survive outside.


Clover stayed outside with her colony for the next few years. Rosemary eventually disappeared in 2010. I never found out what happened to her, but her house is still there. The colony was now fed by another elderly woman named Eleanor. Then Eleanor died in 2012, and another woman named Casey started feeding the cats regularly. At this point, I had spayed/neutered 18 cats from this colony, but this past year there are only three cats left outside. The rest of the cats were adopted, admitted into shelters, or died on the street.


Even though Clover was fed elsewhere, she always liked to hang out under Rosemary’s porch, so I kept the shelters there. Someone put a cat bed under the porch for her.


Last winter Clover and Patches really bonded with Casey, and she started letting them into her home. The funny thing is that these two cats don’t really get along with each other, but they seem to keep finding their new caregivers together. IMG_7863


Last week Casey told me a neighbor named Amanda was trying to adopt Clover into her home. Amanda was able to pick up Clover and take her to the clinic for a check-up, vaccinations, and testing. Clover tested negative and was docile at the clinic. She even let them cut her nails. So far she is slowly acclimating to being indoors, but is acting friendly with Amanda. If it doesn’t work out, Clover still has shelter and food outside waiting for her.


Fingers crossed, though, that she wants to stay inside. The Eleanor Rigby Colony is a perfect example of how TNR works to humanely reduce the outdoor cat population. From eighteen cats spayed/neutered starting in 2008, to an outdoor population now of only two cats. Amanda told me she used to see new cats and kittens outside all of the time. Now she was only seeing Clover, and is happy to try to bring her finally home.


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Networking with Your Neighbors to Help the Outdoor Colony Cats

Relocation for feral cats is very difficult and should be used as a last resort. I’ve managed to avoid it in my area so far by networking with neighbors to find other people to feed the cats when a feeder is no longer able to do so. I’ve written about The Rockstar Colony before, a colony that lost their home, and a new feeder on the same block stepped up to care for them, providing food and shelter, and even adopted one of the cats.


The Eleanor Rigby Colony is another example, as they are on their THIRD home since 2009, also all on the same block. Their previous feeders died, but each time another neighbor stepped up to care for them. People care about the cats much more than you may think. You just have to talk to them and network.


Ingrid H contacted me two weeks ago from Everyblock for advice on finding another colony or another feeder for her TNR’d feral cat, named Veda. She’s been feeding this cat for almost a decade. I was very excited to hear from another person here who did TNR that long ago! I asked to share her story, and she kindly obliged, even providing me with photos.


Ingrid is moving at the end of this month to another state, and she knew she was the only person that fed Veda. She let Veda into her basement during the winter. Veda is pretty feral and not suited to be a full-time indoor cat, though, and Ingrid was worried about what would happen to her when she left. Ingrid initially thought that Veda would have to be relocated elsewhere.


This is Veda.

Veda, Logan Square cat

Veda initially came to Ingrid’s apartment building looking for food. Ingrid fed her, and before long Veda showed up with her kittens.


One of the kittens, Ratso, was adopted out by PAWS Chicago. Ratso, the logan square kitten

Ingrid ended up keeping two of the other kittens.


This is Malvina. Malvina, Logan Square colony And this is Andy. He’s still a scaredy cat that only allows Ingrid to pet him when she’s laying down next to him.

Andy, logan square colony

Obviously Ingrid is going to take these indoor cats with her to her new home, but she was worried about what was going to happen to Veda.


Once Ingrid started talking to her neighbors face to face, she found people willing to help. A neighbor across the street from her said that not only would she continue feeding Veda, she would do it in the same spot Veda was used to! No relocation necessary at all.


Ingrid also just bought a Feral Villa hoping that Veda will use that this winter. I suggested sprinkling some cat nip around it to entire her. Do you have any other suggestions? I love a happy ending.

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Trap-Neuter-Return Case Study: 55% Reduction in Outdoor Colony Cats Since 2007

When I first started TNR’ing cats in my yard in 2004 I had no idea how many outdoor cats there were. I did not know what a colony was and I did not even feed cats outside.

In 2007 I registered as a Colony Cat Caregiver in compliance with Cook County’s Managed Care of Feral Cats Ordinance. I kept track of the number of cats that I trapped and took to low-cost vet clinics to be spayed/neutered, vaccinated, ear tipped and micro-chipped to me for identification.

In 2008 I started reaching out to other feeders and caregivers in my area, and helped TNR their colonies as well. In all, I discovered eighteen other sites where cats were being fed. The cats here crossover into other colonies and feeding stations, but are more or less contained within this one city block because of the busy main streets that border on all sides.

153 cats here were TNR’d during this time. Out of that total, 70 TNR’d cats remain outside in managed colonies where they are provided with food and water, medical care, and shelter. The rest of the cats were either adopted out, admitted into no-kill shelters, died, euthanized because of terminal illness or injury, or disappeared from the area.

TNR works. How many more cats would be outside here if none of them were spayed/neutered?

Feral-Cat-Map-2013-Final Here’s a look at the nineteen colonies up close and when TNR started for each of them. The cats in my yard are called the James’ Gang Colony.

TNR Colony Population
Colony Name TNR Start Date Total Cats Spayed / Neutered Colony Cats 2013
Bonita Colony 3/1/2011 3 0
Eleanor Rigby Colony 12/17/2008 18 3
Frontier Colony 11/22/2009 11 2
Garage Band Colony 10/13/2009 8 6
Ginger Colony 7/15/2013 1 1
James’ Gang Colony 1/29/2007 21 5
Jose and the Pussycats Colony 4/5/2010 11 5
La Vida Lydia Colony 4/10/2012 1 3
Little Sister Colony 11/3/2010 11 8
Major Tomcat Colony 3/1/2012 4 6
Marta Volta Colony 7/1/2010 3 0
Martino Awesome Colony 11/24/2009 7 0
Mother Colony 12/1/2010 7 2
Peacock Colony 2/1/2012 3 0
Ricky Martino Colony 4/16/2010 6 6
Rockstar Colony 2/6/2012 8 3
Stealth Colony 3/26/2013 1 0
Thompson Twins Colony 12/1/2012 4 5
V Colony 10/27/2010 25 15
Totals 153 70

I am also working on TNR in areas that are further from me, which I call Satellite Colonies because they currently have one feeder and area that they stay in.

TNR Satellite Colony Population
Colony Name TNR Start Date Total Cats Spayed / Neutered Colony Cats 2013
Cell Phones Colony 7/1/2012 11 13
Iron Works Colony 10/15/2012 8 6
Joyce Division Colony 11/3/2010 10 5
Totals 29 24

I started this blog almost two years ago to chronicle the lives of these cats and show how TNR is working to reduce their overall population humanely and safely. The colony names are listed on the right and each have their own photos and stories. Almost all of the colony cat populations have been reduced. Colony management is ongoing and crucial to the success of TNR, otherwise the numbers will increase again when new unaltered cats show up to feed and breed.

Thank you all for your continued support! Please let me know if you have any suggestions on how together we can continue helping even more cats this year.

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Thank You for Your Support & Donations to Help Colony Cats!

A feral cat colony caregiver surprised me this week by signing up for scheduled monthly donations for the cats through Paypal.

THANK YOU! If you are interested in donating, there is a Paypal link on the right hand side of this page.

All donations are used to trap-neuter-return and continue to care for the colony cats by providing them food, shelter and medical care when needed. My current project is trying to finish TNR for the Cell Phones Colony. I am hoping they will come out to the baited Tru-Catch traps more readily now that it’s getting colder outside. People tend to forget to feed cats outside during winter because they are staying out of the cold. And the cats are hungrier than ever during these months.

This is how I managed to TNR the Eleanor Rigby Colony. Even during a snowstorm, the cats came out immediately to check out the traps baited with canned fish in oil.

Barbs says:

Even $10 a month, while it seems like a pittance, can go a long way. I’ve been looking at “frugal” ways to entice and maintain the ferals, and things like tuna in oil, or sardines, or even the salmon cat food from Aldi, at under $.40 a can, can go a long way, for either trapping or caretaking of TNR ferals. In a perfect world, ALL the kitties would have fresh fish every day! But if the cheap stuff isn’t perfect, it will keep them alive, and their tummies filled. We do the best we can…
If you “think globally, act locally”, you can see that supporting your local TNR folks is a good thing to do!

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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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Setting Out Traps In Secret Locations

Some new cats were visiting my yard and the weather was mild so I decided to set out traps overnight. I call this stealth trapping, because sometimes this way you end up getting cats you didn’t even know existed.


I set out traps in my secret, secure locations that I sleuthed out over the years. There have been no cats left at the Marta Volta and Eleanor Rigby Colonies for quite some time, but I wanted to try just in case. Marta gave me a key long ago to her gate, so it’s easy.


Again I did not trap a single new cat there, and the original colony cats were adopted out long ago. This colony is officially retired – TNR works!


As for the Eleanor Rigby Colony, I always trap under the front porch. IMG_0645

I only got an ear tipped cat! This cat was not TNR’d here originally, and no one feeds there anymore, so he must have been cruising through for a snack. He looks clean and healthy. This colony is also officially retired because they were either adopted out or died. The house is abandoned and will most likely be torn down at some point. I’ll have to remove the cat shelter out so if there are any new cats ever there, they won’t get acclimated to this spot. IMG_0655

Then as I was driving around checking on the traps I only saw ear tipped cats, including this one. IMG_0663

And of course I set a trap in my yard because I’ve been seeing new cats. Again, I only trapped an ear tipped cat. This time it was Popcorn, who I TNR’d last year. I hope he wasn’t too stressed out, but it was great to see him. He only comes to feed in the middle of the night. IMG_0642

Jean Gladstone says:

Congratulations!! TNR does work as long as there are caring, committed humans to help.

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Clover Wants to Stay Indoors

Clover was adopted off the street by a neighbor last fall. We crossed our fingers that she would want to stay permanently.


Casey, her caregiver, just sent this photo. Thank you, Casey! The adoption is a success! 11040421_10204228894218631_532850188_o

Clover is from the now “retired” Eleanor Rigby Colony. She was the one cat from that colony that did everything on her own terms. I couldn’t trap her initially with the rest of the cats. Until she had kittens. Then I was able to trap her and her kittens and kept them indoors with me for a month. The kittens were socialized and adopted, but Clover still acted feral. So I TNReturned her back to the colony. Throughout the years she went through three feeders until she found Casey. She warmed up to Casey, and would visit her indoors. Casey couldn’t keep her, but another neighbor, Amanda, found Clover and let her inside, and it’s clearly working well six months later. Cheers to Amanda and Clover!

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Thank You, Ben M., for Your Continued Support!

Ben M. surprised me this week with another generous donation. This time it was a holiday gift for his friend Jason T. who asked Ben to make a donation in his name to his favorite charity.


 I’m floored. Thank you again.


Then we also figured out that we lived close to each other. In fact, Ben lives right in the middle of a few of my TNR’d colonies. When I mentioned that to him, he said he wondered why he’s only seen a few stray cats in his neighborhood.


That made my day. Yes! TNR works!!!


This is just one of the colonies right near him that I call the Eleanor Rigby Colony. You may recognize the photo from Tree House’s TNR handouts in their clinic. This is how you stand up and stick together!

Starting in 2008, I TNR’d, pulled, fostered and adopted 18 cats total from this address. There is only one cat left outside at this point. This photo shows a few of them, all of them TNR’d at first, and I’ve written about most of them. Starting from left to right:


Fluffy, the long-haired brown and white tabby was TNR’d, and then hit by a car a year later. Neighbors found her and took her to the ERl. She was euthanized because her back was broken. I found this out because the vet traced her microchip to me and called to let me know.


Patches is the short-haired brown and white tabby. She was TNReturned by me, and adopted indoors by another neighbor last year. 10805293_10203538151030483_1539061207_n

The only one currently left outside is the small black cat, who left the colony after her TNR and is being fed and cared for exclusively by another feeder. They named her Joker and she has shelter and full reign of their yard.


The long-haired black and white cat, is Dusty. He is the only male and was in charge of this “harem.” A few years after his TNR, a neighbor brought him to Animal Control, who traced his microchip to me. I was able to rescue him from animal control, and a friend of a friend adopted him from me. Since then, I’ve become great friends with his adopter, Greer. She has her own cat sitting business, Mama Bear Pet Care, and she regularly cat sits for me. 10365777_10152675473734610_1227857297545773598_n

The other long-haired brown and white tabby is Clover. She had kittens before I could TNR her. I fostered and admitted the kittens to a shelter, and I TNR’d Clover after the kittens were weaned. Last year another neighbor adopted her indoors. DSC04390

The grey cat is Gracie. Two years ago, she disappeared for awhile, and then a neighbor found her body in the alley underneath the train tracks. We don’t know what happened to her, but I suspected rat poison, since she was a great hunter and the city baits under the tracks all of the time. At least she had a good four years of being fed and cared for after her initial TNR, and she was definitely a neighborhood favorite.





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Stealth Trapping: Setting Out Traps 24/7

I’ve had traps set outside in hidden locations non-stop since Monday night. I call this “stealth trapping.”


This is when you set out traps 24-hours a day and see if you get any “surprises.” My TNR friend Bruno calls this “fishing for cats.”


With stealth trapping you leave the traps unattended, but they are in secure locations, the weather has to be mild, and you check the traps every other hour or so.


In this case I learned that most of the cats here are already TNR’d. TNR works!


I still have the sick cat on my mind, so I put a trap in that yard with the owner’s permission. His yard is completely secured by a fence. IMG_7996

Unfortunately I did not trap the sick cat. No one has seen him since that day.


I also set out a trap by the Eleanor Rigby Colony next to their outdoor cat shelters. This is under their front porch, out of view from the street and completely dry. No “new” cats here either. IMG_7995

I also set up two traps for the Marta Volta Colony. The caregiver no longer feeds because the colony was adopted out, but she said she sees cats from time to time, including an orange one. She is currently out of town and gave me the keys to her gate and said I could set traps anytime. IMG_8002 IMG_7999

I trapped an orange cat around midnight on Tuesday, but he was already ear tipped!


Poor guy looks like he’s being arrested in this photo. I guess stealth trapping is like a sting operation. Orange cat from Marta Volta Colony

I set a trap in my front yard because I’ve been seeing a new cat coming around this summer. The James’ Gang Colony cats in my backyard don’t let anyone in, but the front yard feeding station is fair game.


I already wrote about how I trapped an ear tipped grey cat.


But I had a feeling there was another one, so I kept trying.


And got this cat in the middle of the night. Popcorn before his TNR

His name is Popcorn because he kept trying to pop out of the trap. He moves fast!


He got his TNR treatment the next day at the clinic, and I released him in the front yard this afternoon. Popcorn is the first cat I ever TNR’d in my front yard! He acted very, very feral, alternating between fierceness and fear. Let’s see if he sticks around. Popcorn with ear tip

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