Seven Kittens Admitted into PAWS Chicago’s Adoption Program

The five KFC Colony kittens that we rescued in October were finally admitted into PAWS Chicago last Thursday.


They’ve come a long way since we first saw them in their junkyard home. backyardcats

Check out how big they’ve gotten since! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This was from their last ride to PAWS after a few vet visits. While they were being fostered their vet bills totaled $796.76


Thanks to Robin T. and Joann S. for fostering them this whole time! In addition, we were excited to find Shannon C. who is interested in adopting two of the kittens. Fingers crossed Shannon will be able to adopt the kittens through PAWS.


That same day, the other two kittens at Gertrude’s house were also admitted into PAWS. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Check out their last ride to the shelter. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

All of the kittens were spayed and neutered yesterday and will be available for adoption there shortly.


It was a great day overall!

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Going Door to Door in Englewood with PAWS Chicago to Help People Care for Their Pets

PAWS Chicago’s Paws for Life Community Outreach Program provides resources and awareness to residents in Englewood on how to help and care for their pets.


I’ve been volunteering weekly with program leader, Laurie Maxwell, and wrote about some experiences so far.


This is also where I met Alicia, who is caring for a colony of cats abandoned at her door in Englewood. I am so happy I met her and reached out to Hyde Park Cats on her behalf. To date, they’ve admitted four of the cats on her block into their adoption program.


In addition to meeting Alicia, we went to peoples’ houses that now have an ongoing relationship with PAWS Chicago as they receive help for their pets, with a specific emphasis on spay/neuter resources.


One house was a follow-up visit to see this little dog named Here We Go after her spay surgery. What a great name for a great dog. All she wants is pets. IMG_0538 Here We Go was rescued by her owner. She found her down the block chained in a backyard, 24 hours a day in all kinds of weather. She convinced the previous owners to let her keep Here We Go instead. She did not have money for vetting, and was very happy with the services that PAWS was able to provide her.


On that same block, we visited another house who turned out to have fifteen small dogs inside, including two litters of puppies. These puppies were very young. IMG_0559

These puppies were a bit older and very playful.

Their owners were pretty overwhelmed and had plans to give the puppies away. They brought out the adult dogs they purchased from various breeders, but desperately wanted all of the dogs spayed and neutered. They just did not know how to go about it.


The story of which puppies went with which dogs was pretty confusing, and this is where it was fun to watch Laurie in action. She drew a family tree with all of the dogs’ names listed, so that they could all be sure that ALL of the dogs would receive vet care in a timely manner.


Amidst meeting all of the dogs, this cat came up to us for pets. She was visibly pregnant. IMG_0546

Turns out she belongs to the same house, and they let her in and out. She was perfectly fine amidst all of the commotion, and was friends with the dogs. IMG_0557

Because of her condition, Laurie took her that day to get spayed in PAWS’ clinic.


We also returned a colony cat that was treated for a head wound during his TNR surgery. This cat was trapped by a feeder named Johnny that cares for all of the cats that come to his auto lot. George from Chicago TNR has been helping Johnny for awhile now. When Johnny trapped this cat, he called George, who then called Laurie. Laurie came within the hour to pick up this cat and took him straight to the clinic for vet care. IMG_0922

I’ve been to this colony before. George took me around Englewood a few winters ago showing me all of her TNR work in that area.


One of the cats we met that day had an eye injury that was treated. I saw this same cat now. The wound is pink but healed now. IMG_0926 These cats are pretty friendly and cared for by Johnny, but could also use indoor homes. There are many cats like this Englewood.


There are so many more stories like this, and so many residents requesting help for their pets. I plan on continuing to help in any way I can. If you are interested in volunteering, please visit the PAWS For Life Facebook page.

Maryann Collins says:

What a great program. Thank you so much for writing about it.

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Instead of Building a Shelter and Expecting People to Come, PAWS Chicago is Bringing Their Shelter Resources Directly to the People

PAWS Chicago started a new community outreach program in Englewood last December to go door-to-door and help people help their pets.


I joined PAWS Chicago PAWS Outreach for Life last week for the first time and am still trying to wrap my head around what happened. It’s what I’ve been doing here and wanting in my own Humboldt Park neighborhood for years with TNR – going door-to-door and talking to neighbors face-to-face about the animals that they are seeing, and giving them the resources to help them. Being by myself mostly, my resources are obviously limited, but I do what I can with my neighbors’ support, your support, and utilizing the best of my own abilities, which is mostly TNR – Trap, Neuter, Return. When the neighbors have questions about caring for their indoor pets or other animal issues, I let them know the resources available elsewhere in the city.


PAWS Chicago is offering to help anyone with any pets in zip code 60621, Englewood, with whatever they need for their animals, and going directly to the source by visiting people’s homes. That includes spay/neuter services, additional vet care, animal behavior advice, transport, pet care supplies, working with landlords to help people keep their pets, TNR for outdoor colonies, admission for found strays and litters, on-site dog training classes, and more. They chose Englewood because it is currently Chicago’s most impoverished, underserved neighborhood, with a median annual income of around $11,000 per household. Additionally, there are very few local vet resources there. Last year I volunteered a few times with my friend George of Chicago TNR who does TNR and cat rescue all over Englewood and other south side neighborhoods utilizing PAWS’ Lurie Clinic. We saw a lot of outdoor cats there.


Laurie Maxwell runs the program for PAWS. She came from The Humane Society of the United States, HSUS, and modeled this after their own Pets for Life program in Chicago’s West Lawndale/Garfield Park area that has been running since 2011.


Laurie explained that instead of building a shelter and expecting people to come, they are bringing the shelter resources directly to them. It’s very ambitious and it seems to be working. So far over 95% or so of the people they talked to want these services and are working with PAWS to get them. That success rate was very obvious last week when we visited everyone.


I met up with Laurie and another volunteer named Dee at Kusanya Cafe and we hit the ground running. Laurie took us on follow-up visits to homes that she already has a relationship with, as well as visiting new homes.


The first stop was visiting two kittens that were spayed the previous week at PAWS Chicago’s Lurie Spay/Neuter Clinic. Their owners had questions about kitten care, and had expressed concerns the week prior about litter box issues. So Laurie came prepared with litter box supplies, kitten food, and cat behavior advice.


The next stop was visiting a female pit bull named Precious that now had kennel cough after being at Chicago Animal Care and Control, CACC. Someone turned Precious into CACC as a stray, but the owners paid the fees and got her out. They could not afford the vet services for the cough, and there was alo something wrong with Precious’ skin. Laurie made arrangements to pick up the dog the following week for vet care, and provided dog food. In addition, while we were talking to Precious’ owner, a cat wandered into the room to check us out. When we found out the cat was not spayed yet, Laurie made arrangements to also pick up the cat and take her to their vet.


We visited a home with a pit bull family. The owner came out with a shoebox full of puppies. The puppies were only five days old. IMG_0341

The owner agreed to keep the puppies until they’re weaned, and then PAWS will admit them into their adoption program, and fix the adult dogs. This man touched my heart. He is raising his two daughters, nine and ten, by himself. He was so grateful and gracious while talking to Laurie.


In between, we knocked on doors, and found a home that neighbors told us about that was “filled with cats and dogs.” We managed to talk to the owner on the phone, but did not go inside because she wasn’t home yet. Laurie made arrangements to try again the following week.


We also saw at least eight cats outside in various places. This one was obviously friendly, and we found her owner. She agreed to have the cat picked up to be spayed the following week, in addition to her two dogs. IMG_0347

We visited another man who is caring for his English bull dog in the basement of his old apartment. He had to move to a new place and his new landlord does not allow pets. He visits his dog five times a day in the old place. Laurie also gave him supplies, and is working on getting his landlord to allow him to be together with his dog. We all took his dog out for a walk together, and it was clear they were family to each other.


One of our last stops was with a young man named Nick and his rambunctious six-month old pit bull. Laurie has been giving him on-site dog behavior lessons, and Nick showed us his progress. The dog was also spayed by PAWS. The other week Nick also found a chihuahua abandoned for three weeks in his stairwell. PAWS admitted that dog into their adoption pgroam.


Nick bought his pit bull from a breeder in Indiana. He tried to adopt another dog from an open intake shelter, but was turned down because he didn’t have a fence. So he bought a dog instead, from a breeder all too willing to give it to him. He said his friends also want to breed his dog, but he refuses now, and is an advocate for spay/neuter for all peoples’ pets. Perhaps now his friends will be calling PAWS as well.


There was so much more that happened within these few hours. I wish I had taken more photos but there was so much going on. I am planning on returning again to volunteer this Thursday. For a list of their events and volunteer opportunities, please visit the PAWS Chicago PAWS for Life Outreach page.



Kelly Restivo says:

Very very nice. Makes me happy. There are so many good people out there and if we all help each other it is a much nicer place.

Vanessa says:

Thanks for the kind words, Kelly!

Marlene Kirby says:

Thank you PAWS. This plan is much needed in Englewood. I used to work there. Animals all over needing help.

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Three Kittens Available for Adoption at PAWS

Three kittens from the junkyard, Tabitha, Tater and Tilly, are already available for adoption at PAWS Chicago. 3kittens

Just before we admitted them to PAWS last week, a woman named Shannon saw our Facebook posts and came to meet the kittens. She fell in love with Tigger and Tori. Since they’re not listed on PAWS’ site, we’re hoping that means she will be able to adopt them.


We’re hoping that ALL of these cats will go home for the holidays!


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Chicago Artists Commissioned to Make Outdoor Cat Houses

TATIC, the Terraformer Advancement of Interspecific Communication, opened its doors to the public over the weekend to view outdoor cat houses made by Chicago artists.

We talked to one of the artists and asked what led to this project, and if he sees cats outside. He said there are a few cats in the area that have already visited the garden, and one of the cats goes into his apartment. We talked about TNR, trap-neuter-return, and he said Throop St Ferals was there earlier and has offered their help. Throop St Ferals happens to do TNR in Bridgeport within blocks from TATIC so this is perfect.

It was interesting to me that TATIC made the connection of the cats needing shelters first. Most people start feeding the cats, then want to fix them when the population increases, and then move on to building shelters for them. I can appreciate this roundabout way of trying to learn how to help the cats because I never fed cats initially in my yard either. I rented my first humane trap to try to get a sick cat that would not let me near her otherwise and never stopped trapping since then.

The pyramid cat house was my favorite. It is fully insulated – it just needs a floor added and straw stuffed inside. pyramid cat house

They also had other feral cat shelters and cat-themed projects throughout the empty lot.

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Helping Goldie, an Outdoor Cat with a Swollen Leg

Twenty cats have been TNR’d at the Land Colony site since last month.


The colony feeder, Margie, called Kim last week about another neighbor, Deborah, who lets a few cats inside her house at night. One showed up with a fresh ear tip, so we knew that cat was just TNR’d from the Land Colony and is now “adopted” by Deborah.


Deborah also lets this cat, Goldie, in and out of her house.

He showed up limping last week, with a swollen leg. Kim showed Deborah how to set up a trap for him and wait.


Deborah and her son were very nervous about this process, even though they knew Goldie needed  help. He was clearly injured. Both his ears almost appeared to be ear tipped, which looked more like frost bite than anything else. Goldie needed to be examined and vetted. Deborah and her son were very worried that by trapping him, Goldie would then be scared away. Kim managed to convince them this was the best thing that could be done for Goldie, and counseled them for a long time. Such was the case with Margie and her family as well. This is pretty common when doing TNR, and can be very time-consuming.


Nevertheless, Goldie was trapped early the next morning. Deborah was very anxious – Goldie thrashed a lot and acted very feral in the trap. Kim took him straight to PAWS Chicago for TNR and an exam.


PAWS TNR’d him, and determined that his ear were eroded from frost bite. They checked his swollen leg, and determined he had a swollen carpus and paw.


There was so sign crepitance, which means a cracking or grating sound, most often referred to bones rubbing on each other. So they suspected the swelling was caused by cellulitis, a skin infection.


They gave him a shot of Convenia, free of charge. We are so grateful for PAWS’ care and help for these colony cats! We could not do this without them. They advised that if the swelling did not go down after two weeks or so, he should be brought into a full service vet for an x-ray.


In the meantime Goldie was recovered and returned to Deborah. We told her to continue to watch his swollen leg, and that we would help should he need that x-ray and additional vetting.


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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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How to Convert a Feeder into a Cat Colony Caregiver

Joann found the Land Colony last summer in Avondale while we were TNR’ing all over the place there during the height of kitten season.


Margie and her husband, Pepe, were feeding the cats in their yard, and there were just too many. Joann saw several two-month old kittens.

Margie was on board with TNR, but Pepe was not at the time. We moved on to do TNR and foster kittens from several other colonies in Avondale.


We don’t know what happened to those kittens in the photos, but Margie called us a month later because she found yet another sick kitten in her yard. Simon had a URI and was infested with parasites. He was starving and underweight. Obviously he was also super cute and friendly. His rescue was a group effort from all of our friends from start to finish. We fully vetted him at Joann’s vet, our friend Elissa at Rockstar Pets fostered him, and he was eventually admitted into PAWS Chicago’s adoption program.


And then, on another twist of amazing fate, my TNR friend, Trudy O., saw Simon’s story and shared it with her neighbor. Her neighbor adopted Simon along with another kitten together there!

So obviously there were a lot of cats that Maria, Pepe and others were feeding, but we weren’t allowed to TNR yet. We were still in contact with them while we had Simon to let them know everything that was happening, but Pepe still did not want us to trap the cats. Fast forward to last week, six months later, when Kim V. and Nellie J. heard about this colony again because neighbors complained to animal control.


This time, Pepe was more on board with TNR although he still is worried. Kim and Nellie talked to him, Maria, their daughter, and tons of neighbors around the area who all feed the cats. Everyone loves the cats, feeds them, and wants them around to control the rats. No one wants the cats killed. But it’s the same old story – there are just too many of them. Maria and Pepe found kittens dead in their yard this winter, frozen from the low temperatures. They were realizing that they had to do something. Kim and Nellie were now allowed to freely TNR.


Last Friday night they showed up, and trapped 11 cats in just a few hours. They could have trapped at least a dozen more, but they ran out of traps and only had a set number of appointments..


They brought all of the cats to Anti-Cruelty Society for their TNR surgery. A LOT of cats were brought in that day for spay/neuter surgery.

THANK YOU, Nellie and Kim!

They think one of the cats miscarried in the trap before her surgery. Kim saw this when she picked up the trap off of the floor.

Out of the eleven cats, eight cats were female, three cats were male. Two of the female cats were pregnant with ELEVEN kittens total. 


Can you imagine if ALL eight females were pregnant? With those rates, 40-48 kittens would be born there this spring from just this bunch. Not to mention the other females still not trapped. You can see in the photos below Kim and Nellie trapped three tortie cats that night, but they saw at least five more. We all know tortie cats are female.


All eleven cats are currently recovering and doing well in Kim’s recovery space.

TNR and colony care and management doesn’t stop there. Kim and Nellie took it upon themselves to show everyone how to properly care for the cats afterwards. Currently the only shelters the cats have are cardboard boxes with plastic tarps and towels. Kim and Nellie are going to help them provide better shelters.


There are also outdoor electrical outlets so we’re hoping Maria may be able to provide electric outdoor warming bowls for food and water, and perhaps even heating mats for them to lay on. In the meantime Maria has also asked about costs for everything, and is even interested in possibly throwing a fundraiser for the cats. We’ll keep you posted if they do!


Maria has also agreed to register now as a feral cat colony caregiver in compliance with Cook County’s Managed Care of Feral Cats Ordinance.  Kim will be returning the cats there this week, and trapping again. We think once the cats are returned, then EVERYONE there will see how much the cats thrive and are better off with TNR. Kittens won’t be born and dying. The TNR’d cats won’t roam to mate and fight – they will remain to eat in their own territory. Kim is also talking to Maria about establishing set feeding times and a feeding station for the cats so they will all see how many cats they have and how much to feed.


Persistence, patience and follow-through is crucial to not only trapping cats, but also in working with the feeders. Sometimes it can take months and YEARS to get a feeder on board. Communication is key, and sometimes you have to walk away for a bit. There’s always more to be done with people who want your help. And then later you can come back and ask again. We are very excited about this change of heart and hope the momentum continues.






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Check Out the Charlie Chaplin Colony After Their TNR

Kim and I helped Melanie TNR her Avondale colony just over two months ago. We trapped 17 cats in one weekend.


That’s way too many cats, which is why Melanie contacted me. Five of those 17 cats are no longer on the street, including four kittens admitted to PAWS Chicago, and Cowbella, who is being fostered by Kim and currently available for adoption. That’s an immediate almost 30% reduction in the size of this colony, not to mention all of the cats that will no longer be born from the female cats and Katler, the queen mama supreme cat.


Katler was named after her cute little Charlie Chaplin mustache, and then we named the colony after her. Since then, Melanie sent us updates and photos on how the colony is doing now. We LOVE updates! Katler is still the star.


Here she is now in the back, surrounded by her grown litters. Or, as Melanie describes them, looking like a rock band, called:  Katler and the Kittlens.

And then they like to ham it up all over her yard.

Since their TNR Melanie asked us to purchase cat shelters made out of Rubbermaid bins for the colony. Chinny enjoyed his immediately.

Melanie also included an extra donation to not only cover the price, but to use to help other colonies. Thank you, Melanie! We look forward to hearing more adventures from Katler and the Kittlens.


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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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