RIP Baby Gray: The Cat with More Than an Infected Ear

Baby Gray was TNR’d through a shelter program at least a few years ago, maybe more. Baby Gray and his two other cat colony friends are bonded and fed twice a day by a kind feeder named Penny. They have feral shelters and companionship.

They hung out together all of the time.


This past March when I started bringing Penny cat food to help out I could see all three cats looked pretty scruffy. Baby Gray’s left ear looked infected.

I waited until May to try to start trapping because the long-haired cat has the most severe matting I’ve ever seen. Seriously, it looks like s/he’s shedding little balls of kittens off of her body, like a Gremlin. The fur needs to be completely shaved off, so I waited until the weather warmed up for that. The other tuxedo cat also has mats and is losing weight. I was hoping to trap all three at once, since there are never guarantees as to who is going to go in a trap first.


After two days this week of trying to trap, Baby Gray went in. The other two cats are still not trapped.

His ear now looked a lot worse. He was also drooling and had nasal discharge, so I thought perhaps he had a URI, and would need a dental.

I took Baby Gray straight to our vets at Elmhurst Animal Care Center. I don’t know what I’d do without them.


Baby Gray had to be sedated for the exam because he was feral and acting aggressively. His ear had severe discharge with a mass growing near the ear canal. But that wasn’t the main problem.


Along with severe periodontal disease with several missing teeth, he also had a necrotic mass with severe discharge under his tongue. This was cancerous – squamous cell carcinoma – and required immediate surgery to remove part of his jaw, which would only buy him a few more months to live, along with a steroid treatment. Baby Gray was dying already. Per the vet, he would die without treatment within a few weeks or months. He was euthanized while under sedation.


Baby Gray is no longer suffering, and Penny cared for him as best as she could during these past few years. She gave him as much love as he would accept, and he had feline friends outside. He also did not have to die alone on the street, and I am always thankful for that. I’d like to remember him as he looked this way – feral, free, and soulful.

I didn’t expect this outcome, but this year has been full of them so far.


I am fully committed to continuing cat colony management for cats after they are TNR’d. I will continue to try to trap Baby Gray’s other colony friends that also need vet care.


If you would like to help trap on the west side of Chicago, please contact me at [email protected] or call 773-609-CATS. If you’d like to donate to help more colony cats like Baby Gray, you can do so by clicking the PayPal button link at the top of this page. Thank you!

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RIP Princess: The Cat with the Bloody Hind Legs

I called Rita a few weeks ago letting her know that I was coming with another cat food donation for her colony cats and indoor cats. Rita told me she was concerned that one of her colony cats was injured and had blood on her hind legs. She said she has been calling other rescue organizations for help but no one could come.


I brought a trap during her colony feeding time and saw Princess right away. Yes, she clearly had blood all over her hind legs.

It was impossible to tell what happened or speculate. Princess was limping, but still mobile. I set the trap and waited for awhile to no avail because Rita still had fed them anyways. I left the trap with Rita and told her to call me as soon as she got Princess.


Rita called me several days later and said she had coaxed Princess into her house. For some reason Rita waited a few days to call me with this news. At this point I was out of town again for work. My friend Erica was trapping another injured colony cat that we were vetting and I asked her to also get Rita’s cat if possible. In the meantime I told Rita to set up her cat carrier with a blanket and treats in a separate room for Princess to become comfortable with the carrier and create a safe place for her.


Rita did not do those things. When Erica showed up she had a hard time finding Princess in Rita’s apartment. She and her friend moved the furniture in the entire place looking for Princess. Rita was hysterical the whole time. Erica had to calm Rita while trying to get Princess. They finally found Princess hiding in a Rubbermaid cat shelter in the apartment. They lined the trap up to the shelter and somehow Princess went in.


Erica rushed her to our amazing vets at Elmhurst Animal Care Center because she could see something was very, very wrong with Princess’s stomach. It almost looked like her insides were coming out.


Warning, the following photos are graphic. 

The vet quickly determined that Princess had mammary cancer. The tumors were so infected and far gone that they had burst. That is the blood and fluids we saw leaking down on Princess’ legs. She was limping because she also had extreme muscle deterioration. We cannot imagine how long and how much she must have suffered with this. After this quick exam the vet recommended immediately euthanizing her. It was the only humane option.


I want to thank our vets for their expertise and compassion. A huge thank you to Erica for being able to trap Princess sooner than I could get there, and for dealing with such a hard situation in Rita’s house. Most of the time during animal rescue there is also a very real, very human component that is part of the story, as much as we try to focus on the cats. At the same time, I’d like to thank Rita for getting Princess into her house. I think cats know when they are in trouble, and this was Princess’ way of accepting help. Many times feral cats come to us in different ways when they are sick or injured.


I do know Princes had a few good years after her TNR before getting sick like this. She and her other three colony cat friends were bonded and ate every morning at Rita’s front door, with shelters to hide in under her front porch. In fact, Rita said one of the cats kept looking in her window the whole time Princess was in her apartment. I wish we could have gotten to Princess sooner had we known, but I’m glad her end was humane and in a safe environment, rather than dying alone on the street.


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Vetting Mooksie, a Colony Cat with an Ear Hematoma

Mooksie showed up at his colony with a severely swollen and crumpled right ear a few weeks ago.

He is part of a group of feral cat colonies totaling 30-40 TNR’d cats that Jennie K. cares for in the West Humboldt Park area of Chicago. I bring cat and dog food to Jennie when I have it, because along with the colony cats, she also cares for 11 rescue cats and one dog in her home. Jennie lives on a fixed income and is on disability. She can hardly keep up with feeding, let alone vet care!


My rescue friend Erica was able to trap Mooksie with Jennie’s help, and rushed him to our amazing vets at Elmhurst Animal Care Center. There they determined he had an ear hematoma that required surgery.


Hematomas are extremely painful initially for the cat, and are caused by trauma to the ear. They quickly can become infected and require extensive surgery. They do not heal on their own.


Mooksie went under anesthesia and the vet drained his ear. They used dissolvable sutures with a small opening left in it so that the ear could continue to drain on its own. We asked for dissolvable sutures so that we would not have to re-trap him for removal later. Mooksie required a catheter during surgery, antibiotics (convenia) for the infection, full ear cleaning and oti-pack ear cleaning solution, and intravenous fluids. He was also required to be hospitalized in intensive care.


His total vet bill came out to $531.30 We did not realize how extensive and expensive ear hematomas can be! Ear problems are pretty common for colony cats. If you’d like to make a donation to help cover his care and to continue to feed his colony, you can do so at the donate link at the top of this page, or through PayPal at [email protected]


I returned Mooksie back to Jennie and his colony after a few days of observation and rest. His ear will be permanently folded over, but it looked really good and completely healed.

I took the opportunity to also bring more cat and dog food to Jennie. I made sure Mooksie helped!

He was VERY happy to be returned to his colony, and so was his bonded friend, Bootsie! She came right out to greet him at their feeding station. It was as if she was waiting for him! Jennie said she seemed to be frantic all week missing him. She thinks they are litter mates as they look exactly alike.

Then they started chasing each other.

The cats all live in this abandoned building and are fed by Jennie daily.

They easily access the building through this broken window.


A big thanks to Erica and Jim for trapping and transporting Mooksie, to Jennie for caring for this colony, to our vets for healing these cats, and to all of you who continue to donate towards their care! This couldn’t be done without all of you.


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Waiting for Biopsy Results for Mama, Kristina’s Senior Feral Colony Cat

Mama, a cat from Kristina’s colony, had an infection in her mouth this winter. She was eating only with one side of her mouth and had fluids coming out.


Kristina tried giving her antibiotics which seemed to help, but then last week Mama became lethargic and stopped eating.

She was so weak that Kristina was able to scoop her up into a cat carrier and took her straight to our amazing vets at Elmhurst Animal Care Center.


Mama was thin, dehydrated and anemic. They noted she had “severe dental disease, with near-universal root exposure. Large amount of foul-smelling exudate packed around teeth.” They also found a “pink, fleshy, moveable mass under right side of her tongue.”


They gave her a dental and pulled TEN teeth. She was given antibiotics, pain meds and fluids.

We are currently waiting for biopsy results for the mass under her tongue. Mama’s vet bill so far is $246.00 We are always committed to giving every colony cat full medical care as needed. If you’d like to make a donation towards Mama’s care, you can do so with your credit card at the PayPal donation link at the top right of this page to [email protected]


After her vet visit, Kristina took Mama home to recover from her dental. She is now inside and can roam in her basement, because she is used to waiting by Kristina’s basement door for food.


Mama continued to refuse to eat. I went to go visit with a variety of cat food to try, as well as Gerber chicken baby food. I couldn’t get a good photo of Mama because she is feral and ran from me, but after I left Kristina told me that Mama ate the baby food!

Kristina cares for about five TNR’d cats in her yard, and two other colonies a few blocks away. Mama was TNR’d nine years ago, so she’s led a good long life so far.


Mama and the other cats live in this amazing outdoor cat house in their yard, next to their garage. I gave Kristina a wood shelter years ago, and Kristina’s boyfriend Matt built it up into this much bigger space, encased with a tarp for warmth.

The inside of this shelter is insulated.

With heating lamps.

The black cat in these photos is Mama’s colony friend, Spot. He made sure to show me all around their yard.

We don’t know what to expect yet with Mama, but we are hoping for the best. She will get the best care we can provide. Please send healing thoughts her way!






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Helping Norman Edwards, a Former Colony Cat, Get Ready for Adoption!

Norman Edwards was trapped in a large TNR project in the Dunning area of Chicago in January. He was taken to a low cost clinic for the basic TNR services for a feral cat, but he’s friendly.


So Kim V. agreed to foster him in her home. He is quite the handsome long-haired black cat. Norman acted pretty friendly, but hesitant about his surroundings. We’re not sure if he ever was a fully indoor pet cat. PAWS Chicago agreed to take a look at him for admission into their adoption program.


During his exam there, it was noted that he had a possible wound and missing fur on his back, near his tail. And that he badly needed a dental. PAWS offered to do his dental at no charge to us, but there was a wait time of over a month because their shelter is currently backed up.


Kim decided not to wait because she didn’t want to keep Norman longer in a cage than was necessary, and it did seem like he was in pain. As I said, he was friendly, but wasn’t quite coming out of his shell.

Kim took him to our wonderful vets at Elmhurst Animal Care Center. They noted that he was missing several upper and lower incisors. His mouth must have really been bothering him! They gave him a full dental.


As for the wound on his back, they thought it may be from scratching from fleas, and possible infection. Norman went home with antibiotics to help clear it up.


Kim said that a day or two after this visit, Norman was acting like a new cat. He HATES being given Clavamox, but his energy level and activity is now through the roof. He plays with other cats and wants to be pet and handled. His new intake appointment at PAWS is now on March 17th after his antibiotic treatment is done.


His total vet bill was $105.40, which Kim took care of herself. If you’d like to make a donation towards his care for me to repay her, you can do so at the PayPal donation button at the top right of this page.




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Helping Felix, the Orange Cat, Get Ready for Adoption!

Felix was found sick in an alley by some kind volunteers on the near north side of Chicago last fall and brought to PAWS’ clinic to be neutered.


He was covered in itchy scabs from a flea allergy, dehydrated, and in need of a dental that was inflaming his gums and causing swollen glands and a fever. My TNR friend, Erica R., found a foster for him during his long recovery period and multiple vet visits.


He’s a super sweet, handsome orange tabby cat, just 1-2 years old.

The last vetting Felix needed was his dental, and we were happy to help. Erica took him to our vet, Elmhurst Animal Care Center. He stayed overnight on some antibiotics for infection. The next day he got his dental. The total cost was $88. We are forever grateful for Elmhurst’s fantastic care. We couldn’t do this without them, as well as all of our donors who continue to help us help more cats like Felix!

Felix is now available for adoption at the Petco on Belmont and Western in Chicago. His most recent foster described him as quiet, loving and sweet. He gets along with dogs and other cats. He’s inquisitive and playful. We know he will be adopted very soon!


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RIP Crystal

When we met Jean, she showed us Crystal, one of her twenty colony cats. Crystal’s left ear looked completely eaten away.


Jean trapped Crystal, and Joann rushed her to our vet, Elmhurst Animal Care Center. They ruled out bite wounds, and said her ear was either caused by frostbite or cancer. They sent out a sample for a biopsy, with results taking 3-5 days.


In the meantime Crystal was hospitalized there. She had such low blood pressure they could not get a blood sample. She had a high fever, so they gave her an injection to lower it. The vet performed surgery and cleaned her ear. She was put on medication for the pain, and on antibiotics for infection. They discovered she did not have any teeth left. She tested positive for FIV. She was estimated to be about 9-10 years old.


Crystal was feral and outdoors her whole life. She was TNR’d in 2013. This new environment was very alien to her, and she was completely terrified. Her physical pain was hopefully eased by medicine, but she was still suffering. She did not react or respond to anyone. She refused to eat.


But she was bonded to Jean, so Joann brought Jean to visit her. Crystal recognized her, and let Jean pet and even hold her a little bit. Jean was also able to feed her.

A few days later the biopsy results came back: Crystal had squamous cell carcinoma. Crystal fit the profile for cats most susceptible to this type of skin cancer – she was a white cat, of about the right age, and was outside exposed to the sun. Also, her immune system was further compromised because she was FIV+.


It is a very invasive cancer, and obviously this diagnosis was not early. Crystal’s entire ear was almost gone. The cancer would have continued to spread, and she would’ve required vigilant observation and continued care, most likely chemotherapy.


Joann brought Jean to our vet, Dr. Harris, where he carefully explained everything. Euthanasia was the most humane answer in this case. Crystal died surrounded by their love and kindness.


We are also so grateful to all of you for your love and kindness, and for all of your donations. The costs of $501.40 was covered. Jean could not believe it, even though I told her right when I saw Crystal that whatever happened, we would take care of it, included financially. Jean is extremely grateful for all that was done, but is grieving now. I’d also like to especially thank Joann, who was with Jean every step of the way. The cat community is truly inspiring.


May you rest in peace, Crystal.



Ben says:

Safe travels on the rainbow road sweet girl. I’m sorry we couldn’t save you.

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Jean and Crystal Reunited: A Caregiver Visits Her Sick Colony Cat at the Vet

The vet told us Crystal, a sick cat from Jean’s colony, was suffering and hasn’t eaten while hospitalized there since last Friday.


Crystal has necrosis of the left ear, and it is completely gone, bloody and crusted. Her caregiver, Jean, trapped her last Friday and Joann rushed her straight to our vet, Elmhurst Animal Care Center. She has been there ever since, medicated and under observation, while we wait for the biopsy results.


Since Crystal is an outdoor colony cat who is familiar and bonded with Jean only so far, we hoped that she might feel better if she actually SAW Jean. Cats can shut down easily and be terrified in such alien environments, even though they know they are being helped and stabilized with medication. Crystal’s appearance is still alarming but now that she has recovered from surgery and cleaned up she looks so much better than last week. We are so grateful for Elmhurst’s expert care!

Joann drove Jean to the vet for a visit. When Crystal saw Jean the results were spectacular, better than we could have ever hoped.


Jean was able to touch and pet her.

Then she fed her a full meal by hand. And she was able to hold her. This is such a testament to what we are all capable of when we are compassionate and caring. Age and circumstance do not limit us. Jean has a special touch with these cats, and they respond. We are still waiting and hoping for a positive outcome for Crystal. We’ve learned a lot from both of them this past week.




sarah e lauzen says:

so beautiful.

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Vetting Crystal, the Cat with the Missing Ear

Crystal was trapped with 28 other cats living in Jean’s yard in 2013.


Jean’s colony is now down to 13 outdoor cats, and seven indoor cats. All are spayed and neutered.


Jean is probably in her mid-eighties and walks with a cane. She still navigates all three floors of her home, and cares for the cats as best as she can all day by herself on a limited income. She is sharp and fun to talk to. She loves the cats dearly and cares for them as best as she can, but obviously twenty cats takes a lot of time, upkeep and money. Her house is clearly dedicated to the cats – they have pretty much taken over. When Kim and I visited with a donation of cat food and supplies the other week, we saw that some of the cats were sick, even ones that Jean had taken to a vet on her own. Jean was humbled by the donation, even though we kept telling her that this amount of work would be difficult for anyone to handle.


The one cat that clearly needed help immediately was Crystal, part of the outdoor colony. Her entire left ear appeared to be missing.

I remembered Crystal from when I posted about her TNR along with the other cats. This is what she looked like then, and the post also even contains video of her return back to the colony. She’s the last cat returned at the end of it. Jean said Crystal’s ear had been slowly deteriorating but was overwhelmed with vet bills already. Kim and I offered immediately to trap Crystal and take her to our vet, Elmhurst Animal Care Center. Remarkably Jean said she could try to trap her herself and needed to think about the best way to do it. Caregivers know their colony the best, so this is ideal, but at the same time we didn’t really want Jean to try because of her physical condition. The traps are heavy!


Well, last Friday, Jean trapped Crystal on her own! She knew where Crystal usually slept, and placed the trap against the only exit. After awhile Crystal had to go in and she did!


Up close, Crystal’s appearance was even more alarming. We are so grateful to Jean to have trapped her when she did. Joann immediately took Crystal to Elmhurst that night, where she has stayed ever since. When Joann went to pick her up, Jean came out of her house carrying the trap by herself while walking with her cane as well. Seriously, kudos to Jean for her tenacity and passion for these cats. We are in awe, and want to help her any way we can.


Joann said the smell from Crystal was so bad that she thought she defecated in the trap, but it was from her ear.


The vets said the condition of her ear was from necrosis, either from frostbite or cancer. They ruled out bite wounds. We will know the biopsy results soon.


Her ear was cleaned and she was given Convenia (antibiotic) for the infection. Her blood pressure was so low that they might not have gotten enough blood for a blood sample. She had a fever of 103.5 degrees and was given an injection to lower that. She is also on pain medication so that she can rest comfortably there. She tested FIV+. They told us she had no teeth left, but her gums look good regardless. She is estimated to be about nine years old.


We are so grateful to Jean for trapping Crystal when she did. Crystal would not last that much longer on her own in the cold outside without medical care. At the same time, Jean told me she is embarrassed and doesn’t want anyone to think she is neglectful of her colony. We do not think that at all, and I really hope Jean understands that when I tell her. Joann and I have talked to her as best as we can about this.


THANK YOU to Joann and Kim for all of their help this past week with this colony! And thanks to the Elmhurst vets for their expert and compassionate care, as always, so far.


If you’d like to make a donation towards Crystal’s care, you can do so at the donation button at the top of this page, or through PayPal at [email protected]


THANK YOU to all who have donated so far, and for all of your healing thoughts and prayers sent her way!



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Healing Cowbella – Now Available for Adoption

We first met Cowbella, wobbling and weaving her way towards us, while trapping the Charlie Chaplin Colony 5am on a cold Saturday morning last fall.


It was still pretty dark out so we weren’t sure what we were seeing. Cowbella walked as if she was drunk. We knew immediately something was wrong.


We trapped her right away, along with 16 other cats and kittens that weekend from same yard. Despite everything else then going on while trapping, Kim took Cowbella straight to Elmhurst Animal Care Center to be looked at, rather than the clinic to be TNR’d.


X-rays confirmed she had a broken pelvis.

The injury was very new, and may have just happened that morning or night. We got her just in time as Cowbella was in no shape to be walking, and would be an easy target outside.


Cowbella is still just an older kitten. She tested FIV-/FeLV-. Dr. Harris explained that she should stay crated and rested to allow her shock and injury to heal. She could not be spayed until then. Even though she was terrified and acted accordingly, she could not be put back outside. We trust Dr. Harris’ expert opinion implicitly and followed his instructions. Cowbella was contained in a large crate in Kim’s house.

And she did pretty well. Kim even put the Charlie Chaplin kitten litter in the same room with her after awhile to keep her company. She seemed to enjoy watching their antics.


And why not? She probably knew them from outside, and we think she was part of an older litter born to the same mother earlier that year before we TNR’d.


In mid-December Kim took Cowbella for a check-up to Elmhurst again, where x-rays revealed her pelvis had healed and did not require surgery.

She would not be able to jump or run very well, but was ready to be spayed. Because of her mobility issues and the danger it puts her in, she should never be put back outside. Cowbella needs to be an indoor only cat.


I consulted with Jenny Nahrwald, assistant director at PAWS Chicago’s Spay Lurie Clinic, and her opinion on Cowbella. She then consulted with Dr. Von Waldau, their chief vet, who agreed to do her spay surgery for free with a careful examination. Cowbella was spayed just the other week and Jenny transported her afterwards to Kim’s home. Once again, we are so grateful for the care and help PAWS Chicago has provided for us for more than a decade with many of the cats we rescue off of the street.


Cowbella is now recovered from her spay surgery and up to date on all vaccinations. She is a shy, sweet girl that loves to be scratched under the chin, and seeks out pets once she’s comfortable. She definitely likes other cats. She has a lot of energy because she is still very young, but knows how to move carefully because of her past ordeal. She will make a wonderful pet with the right person who will give her time to learn about her new indoor home.

If you’re interested in adopting Cowbella or would like to meet her, please call us at 773-609-2287, or email me at [email protected]


Cowbella’s total vet bills with Elmhurst were $165. We are so grateful to them for such expert care and reasonable costs with everything they’ve done. If you’d like to make a donation to help us help more cats like Cowbella, please click on the PayPal link at the top of this page, or through [email protected]


Thank you all you have donated so far! We could not do this without you.





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