Another Sick Cat from the Peacock Colony

When I first started this blog in 2012, one of the first colonies I wrote about was the Peacock Colony. They were in sad shape. Monorail Colony This colony of three, elderly cats were ultimately trapped, fostered, and adopted out into a life of luxury in their retirement home in New Hampshire. I regularly keep in touch with the women who fostered and adopted these cats out. They are amazing animal rescuers and friends.


Since then, the owners of the house where these cats lived have either died or moved on, I’m not sure. But the house is currently empty.


The other week I was jogging by there and I saw this sick cat a few doors down. 10606616_548140335290352_1844762927439071290_n I don’t know what is wrong with this cat, but a cat who is dirty and wet usually means they are sick or injured, or unable to care for themselves outside. This cat is also ear tipped, but I don’t think I am the one who TNR’d him. He is somewhat cared for, because there is a flea collar on him. Obviously, someone put that on him.


I talked to the people who live there and they gave me permission to set up Tru-Catch traps. There were two little boys and three little girls that day who were very excited to talk to me and learn how to help the cats. I don’t have a network of people that help me trap, but these kids would make a great TNR Team. Children love animals and want to help.


I set up traps for 36 hours and checked on them regularly to see if there was a cat, and to refresh the food inside.


Unfortunately, the sick cat wasn’t caught, but I caught this handsome, healthy cat instead sometime around midnight. Surprise! 10420016_548491651921887_3220117886908498240_n I named him Cosmo Moon Eyes and took him to the low-cost clinic for his TNR spa package, and he recovered quickly. I let him back out with a fresh ear tip and looking a lot more relaxed. 16691_548931418544577_3416553102203701833_n The sick cat has obviously been on my mind ever since and I keep going back to check for him. Today I talked to the two little girls at the house and they told me they’ve seen him again in their yard, but that mostly he hangs out at the Peacock Colony house!


Perhaps he’s a hold out from that colony and just was inside while I trapped the other cats? Who knows, but these little girls gave me all kinds of information about their block, and their dad came out to talk to me. They told me I can try to trap again in their yard, which is great, because I have now also seen this black cat roaming around there. photo-8 This cat almost looks like he had a lion cut at one point, but the little girls said he’s out all the time. They are so curious about everything – they asked all kinds of questions about the cats, why I was running (“why are you all wet?”, “is running like exercise?”), the vet clinic I am taking the cats to, why I was helping the cats, and what I do for work. You should’ve seen their faces when I explained I was a flight attendant. There’s nothing like kids to make you feel like a rock star.


Keep your fingers crossed that I’m able to trap the sick cat. I’m working all week, so if anyone can help in the meantime, please let me know. Otherwise, I’ll keep trying when I’m back in town.

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Update on the Peacock Colony

Remember Paski, PavPav and Aga, the senior femme felines from the Peacock Colony? They were being fed outside, but the feeder really could not continue trying to care for them. They hung out on the porch railing like monorail cats, and hid under the garage for shelter.

Monorail alley cats.

It turned out that three ladies were already fixed, but had medical issues. Releasing them back outside was not a humane option. With the help of Tree House Humane Society, this little colony found an amazing retirement foster home.

These cats can stay together as a colony, now amidst soft blankets, fuzzy toys and cat towers.

We can stay, right?

Torties are tough. This is how I smile.

They look out of large windows at the wildlife, but no longer have to be a part of it.

Check out our room!

Check out our view!

These cats are not feral. According to Ignatz, the man who has been feeding them for the past five years, these three cats were part of a hoarder house across the street, and were turned out once the hoarder left.

They will stay in their foster home until a new cat sanctuary that is supposed to be open in May can welcome these ladies into retirement.

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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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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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Outdoor Cat Colonies Crossover

Today was a beautiful sunny winter day so I decided to go for a run. I ran by the Peacock Colony and saw Checkers lounging in someone’s yard. No matter what else is going on in there, I can always find the cats in other people’s yards. Checkers is actually part of the Eleanor Rigby Colony two blocks away.



I TNR’ed Checkers four years ago, December 17th, 2008 at PAWS Chicago. You can see him checking out the traps along with the other community cats here.

Hami says:

My next neighbors are really mean to animals. They give me a hard time in taking care of stray cats. The stray cats like to go to their yards and they would scream at me for not locking the cats up.

Vanessa says:

I am sorry to hear this. Are the cats TNR’d? You may want to look up local resources for help. Alley Cat Allies is a good place to start:

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If You Feed Them, They Will Come

I met another cat-caring neighbor named Joe this week because he contacted Tree House Humane Society looking for TNR assistance. Tree House introduced us through their Feral Friends network. I was happy to meet Joe because he lives next door to the Frontier Colony, which I TNR’ed in 2009. Tree House admitted two of these cats into their shelter this year. The Frontier Colony is also just one block over from the Peacock Colony. At this point I thought I knew most of the cats in this area, but Joe has been seeing even more.

So far Joe has adopted two other cats from his street, and can not keep taking more in, so we decided to trap in his yard this week. One of the cats we trapped needs to be TNR’ed, but he has an upper respiratory infection and is on antibiotics first. He also has wounds on his back so we’re glad we could give him this much needed medical attention.

We trapped another cat who was already eartipped. We named him Tang and decided to bring him into the clinic for booster shots and to trace the microchip.

It turns out this cat was TNR’ed by me a year ago, six blocks away, for another colony caretaker who free feeds in her garage. I love microchips because they always reveal more pieces to the puzzle. The only thing better would be kitty cameras to really track these cats.

Somehow a year after being TNR’ed Tang made it to Joe’s house, which requires crossing a fairly busy street. Tang has turned out to be incredibly friendly. He head-butts everything, rolls over for belly rubs, and meows for attention. He also eats anything you put in front of him immediately. One can of food after another. Tang is hungry, and probably not used to eating regularly. He has lost weight since he was first TNR’ed. It’s no wonder he traveled across a busy street from one feeder to another.

Tang is available for adoption. Here he is showing his skills in the litterbox and laser vision.

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Cozumel Cats

Earlier this year we went on vacation to Cozumel, Mexico. The all-inclusive resort we stayed at was filled with cats.


But these cats were ear tipped. Every. Single. One.


A quick Google search revealed that the Iberostar hotel chain participates in TNR with local rescue groups. Once the cats are TNR’d, their staff continues to feed them at Cat Cafes.


Apparently “all-inclusive” also includes the cats.


It made a great vacation even better to know that these cats, who of course still came around for food because they’re no dummies, were cared for. These cats were fixed, fed, and were living in heaven. They looked healthy, and were fairly acclimated to humans, but clearly enjoyed their outdoor life. They wanted a bit of food, not pets.


Here’s the view when we flew in. Heaven!

Cozumel from the air

Our resort was like a sanctuary for a variety of animals, including Mr. Iberostar the Iguana.


Iguanas in my yard.

And peacocks.

Peacocks in my yard.

Lots of peacocks. IMG_6329

Peacocks that followed us around. IMG_6331

And followed the cats around. IMG_6262

But really, the cats and the peacocks pretty much ignored each other. IMG_6266

This Cozumel Cat Colony consisted of about a dozen cats, and they lounged all through the resort.


They greeted you as soon as you checked in. 10255345_515633118541074_6385854097755669883_o And took your seat. 10355645_515910771846642_4693490557475239137_o  These tabby siblings were everywhere. On the walkways.


In the shade.


On the grass. 614849_515553288549057_2085461102948795016_o

And outside of our room. IMG_6283

How do I know those tabbies weren’t the same cat? Check them out. IMG_6275


And of course they were in the dining room. IMG_6257

Who could resist “the look”? IMG_6304

I’m going to stay at another Iberostar location in Mexico and I hope the cats are TNR’d there as well.

Debbie Beadle says:

The orange one and Male “tuxie ” are still here ! November 30, 2019

Vanessa says:

Thank you for sharing, Debbie, that’s great news! Hope you enjoyed your stay there as well. Regards, Vanessa

Pamela Annes says:

OMG! That is what Heaven would be to me. I want to go there!

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Teaching the Next Generation About TNR and Compassion for Animals

Last month I came across a sick cat and tried to trap it for a few days. The kids living on this block were really excited to meet me, and so I basically gave a TNR workshop on-site for them.


Unfortunately I have not seen this cat since, but I gave the family my contact info in case they see the cat or another one again.


Last night I got a text from one of the little girls. She’s about 10 years old.

rescue text


Stay in school, kids!

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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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The Saga of Paski, PavPav and Aga

All aboard and lined up for their food.

Monorail cats! They look like peacocks.

I’ve been trying to gain permission to access this locked yard for two years now, to no avail. I got busy TNR’ing and fostering over two dozen other cats in three locations within two blocks from here, but these cats do not leave their yard. I was never able to get close enough to try to help them.

Two weeks ago I thought I saw a rag in front of the house. This “rag” turned out to the the cutest rag I’ve ever seen. Her name is Paski.

I exploded with the cute!

I happened to have humane traps and bait in the car. I trapped three cats right away.

I smell seafood!

The feeder came out to see what I was doing. His name is Ignatz, and he’s been feeding these cats every morning for years now. Ignatz in 97 years old, and would like to leave this neighborhood as soon as he sells the house. 97 years old! He does not want to keep these cats. The cats stay all day, every day, for food, and he doesn’t know what else to do but feed them.

I took the cats to Tree House’s clinic, where they confirmed the cats are all female, fixed, elderly, with bad teeth. They should not go back outside.

PavPav, the long, white-haired cat, was shaved bald because of severe, life-threatening matting. She has no teeth left. She cannot go back outside in this weather.

I can get used to this.

Paski and Aga seem to agree. These dignified ladies are tired of scrounging for food.


Tree House is now looking for another home for these cats, and has featured their plight on their Tree House Cats Facebook page. Please help spread the word.

daniela says:

paski looks like miss moby! i love her already! good job v!

Vanessa says:

Thanks, Daniela! Paski is also just as dainty and loves to be pet just as much.

Diann Nails says:

These cats are lucky to have Treehouse and you helping them!

Vanessa says:

Thank you for saying that! I’m so happy these cats have the chance to “retire” now into a second life. They deserve it.

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