Funny Face In My Front Yard

It wasn’t enough for Funny Face to just supervise the Feral Flowers Garden in the back yard.


Today he decided to visit the front yard just as I was preparing to mow it. I wonder what he thought of this machine? Funny Face vs the lawn mower

Apparently not much. He went straight for the feeding station underneath my front steps instead. I put it together a year ago to help trap any new cats. Funny Face has been a regular visitor ever since.


He was so engrossed in the food that he didn’t notice me at first.

Funny Face's face in the feeding station

Then he realized I was there. He seemed guilty. And embarrassed. Funny Face feeling guilty

And then he refused to look at me and tried to pretend this wasn’t happening at all.  IMG_7956

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RIP Felix: It’s Up to the Community to Help the Community Cats

Felix was found dying outside a block away from me last summer. A neighbor took a video of him laying in the dirt, slowly dying, and posted on Facebook for “somebody to do something.” It took three days until another neighbor finally scooped him up and took him to Medvet, where he was humanely euthanized.


I did not know any of this until Medvet called me, because they traced his microchip to me. Since he was full of maggots, they thought he was overcome by botfly. There was no way to save him at that point. They were incredibly kind and compassionate on the phone and explained everything they could to me.


I went through my TNR medical records and figured out I TNR’d Felix in March 2013. I called his colony the Stealth Colony because I had set up the trap in an empty lot, just on a hunch.

I had no idea who fed him, and in fact, I thought he may be a neighbor’s indoor/outdoor cat. The funny thing was I was driving down his alley to check on the trap before I went to the clinic with some other trapped cats for TNR, and he ran in front of my car, through the alley, through the empty lot, and straight into the trap. It seems like he thought the trap was a hiding place.  After his TNR, I never really saw him again, except for one time almost two years later. Eventually I “retired” the Stealth Colony in my TNR Case Study.

I then found the original Facebook post because another neighbor told me about it. It was long and convoluted, and eventually taken down, because somebody found it upsetting. It WAS upsetting – it was upsetting to see an animal suffering that people did not help. They did call Animal Control, but AC is totally overwhelmed and underfunded to pick up dying animals in any sort of timely manner. Another neighbor did finally take him to Medvet, and unfortunately I never found out who.


Also in that thread there was several posts from a man named Jose, who was very upset and asking where this cat was, because he was sure he was feeding this cat, among others, in the neighborhood. I couldn’t believe it! I found another cat colony feeder the next block over from me that I hadn’t met before. I immediately contacted him.


Turns out Jose was feeding FOUR ear tipped cats, all from different colonies in our neighborhood.  Including MY Funny Face from MY colony!  Jose calls him Simon, and had names for all of them. Jose and his wife Mary’s dogs died in the fall of 2016. Almost immediately cats started showing up in their yard, and they started feeding them. All were already ear tipped. He now also provides shelters for them.

Although the death of Felix was tragic, it was how I met Jose and Mary, more animal loving neighbors who are caring for the cats. Caring for these cats is a community effort, there is no “service” that’s just going to come and do it for you. And neighbors have stepped up to the challenge – we don’t want to see cats suffering outside needlessly. I wish we could have helped Felix faster, but we’ll keep moving forward and trying.

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Lion Cuts for Matted, Long-Haired Colony Cats

Puffy is a very fluffy, long-haired cat that comes to my yard irregularly to feed ever since I TNR’d him in 2013.


This past year he’s been looking fluffier than ever. His long-haired coat is magnificent, but starting to look downright disheveled. He’s not easy to capture on camera – he’s a true feral who only visits at dusk or later. 13055269_810741855696864_4387909218079003248_o

His fur looked out of control, but I had to wait to trap until summer when it is hot enough for him to be shaved. So I zip-tied traps open at the cats’ feeding stations and starting feeding from them to condition the cats to the traps.


It worked like a charm. Last week when I came back from vacation Chicago was nice and hot. I set the traps and quickly trapped Bouncy Bear and Dash by accident. I released them immediately. Eventually Puffy went in very early morning. He looked totally suspicious. IMG_7334

And upon closer examination, I saw I made the right call. His fur was out of control, with huge matts. He looked pretty good, but matts can be very painful – they can be close to and pull on the skin. IMG_7339 IMG_7340

I took Puffy to Roscoe Village Animal Hospital, where I take all the feral cats in traps needing additional medical care.


Obviously, Puffy needed to be sedated for shaving. Since he was there, I asked them to update his vaccinations, and give him an exam. He was treated for fleas, but his ears looked clean. His teeth are surprisingly in good shape, so no dental was needed. And they gave him a full body shave.


Puffy, the Lion Cut King. IMG_7377

Doesn’t he look pleased? IMG_7368

He’s lucky I didn’t get him a dragon cut!


His vet bill was $393. If you’d like to make a donation to help cover his care, you can do so at the PayPal link at the top of this page.

I waited until the end of the day to return him back to my yard. Inexplicably, Funny Face started chasing after him when I returned him. Puffy doesn’t really hang out with the other colony cats here – he’s more solitary.

I finally saw him again here last night for dinner, and was really relieved to see that he was doing well, even if the other cats may be laughing at him. You can see the poof at the end of his lion tail. This time he appeared to be hanging out with Dash. Maybe they’re all making sure he is ok? IMG_7502




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How Does Your Feral Garden Grow?

Funny Face is napping the day away in my yard. A few weeks ago I planted seeds for a butterfly and hummingbird garden on the left, and a wildflower garden on the right. Both are a seed mixture of annual and perennial flowers. The rain brought a carpet of green that will hopefully grow into flowers soon.

I’m glad to see Funny Face relaxing again. He was trapped in my yard by accident the other night, and of course he was pretty upset by the whole experience. I have traps set for Puffy, another feral cat who needs some grooming.

I’m also experimenting with this WordPress app so that I can blog from anywhere, anytime. It seems pretty easy and user friendly so far. 

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Feral Cat Saves Woman from Squirrel Attack!

*Disclaimer: Of course no animals or humans were harmed in this series of photos. 


I walked out my front door and saw Funny Face, one of my TNR’d colony cats, in the front yard. I hardly noticed the red-tailed menace in the tree. IMG_5777

But obviously Funny Face noticed. He hunkered down. IMG_5778

And the chase begins.


I almost started chasing after them just to get them out of the street. We all know cars are a much bigger threat to wildlife.
IMG_5780 And… everyone stayed safe. IMG_5781

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Cat Camouflage

You can hardly see Funny Face in my yard when it snows out.  IMG_3572

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Baby, It’s Warm Outside!

I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season as much as the colony cats!


This bonded pair of outdoor cats don’t even have to share a bed – it’s warm enough for them to spread out. I love the festive stairs. IMG_9651

Funny Face is chillin’ in the chiminea. IMG_9489

And the Villa. IMG_9677



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Hyde Park Cats 2015 Calendar Now Available

Hyde Park Cats is a volunteer-run organization that helps cats and kittens in need.


For the past few years they’ve produced a calendar to raise funds for the cats. The 2015 calendar is now available for a suggested price of $10 online or at these locations. hyde park cover I met Hyde Park Cats this year through our Feral Flowers Project at Forget Me Knodt. They bought flowers and attended our Feral Flowers Design Class. Then they asked if they could include a spread of Cats In My Yard for the calendar. Of course I said yes, and am so excited to see our James’ Gang Colony cats Funny Face, Bouncy Bear, Dash, and, of course, Mooha, on their July page.  cats in my yard page

To learn more about Hyde Park Cats, please visit their site, their Facebook page, or email them at [email protected]


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DIY Outdoor Cat Scratching Post

The garden is now an autumn garden, but I left the large stalks of sunflowers standing for Funny Face.


He was using the sunflowers all summer as scratching posts. Next year I’ll plant more for him. The bigger the better – Mammoth Russian seemed to work the best. And then the sunflowers fed the squirrels and birds all summer. It’s a win-win for all of the animals. IMG_7164 IMG_7866

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Winterizing Your Outdoor Cat Shelters

Once again, it’s time to clean the outdoor cat houses I’ve placed throughout the neighborhood for the colony cats.


I compost the old straw, take out the pink insulation sheets, and then hose down the bins. IMG_8638

Then I replace the insulation sheets as needed using the old ones as a template, and fill the bin with fresh straw.


This time Mooha inspected each bin carefully. IMG_8646

Even Funny Face’s curiosity got the best of him. IMG_8685


How can I skip the stories of individual cats and just find how to find info on the blog: healthcare suggestions, housing, waste collection and disposal, etc. I’m sure you and readers have ideas to share. I can’t bear to read another teary story about old cats or kittens or…I have enough of those of my own. I suspect others who maintain small colonies have as well. Don’t mean to be petty but I really need ideas that d purport our efforts more than warm fuzziness m I’m al tee easy committed.
By the way, those open cell political signs candidates leave all over the place make pretty good insulation. I liked the article on use of tubs. I have used all sorts of containers but never thought to cut holes in tubs.

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