Woodrow Whiskers and Berto Were Adopted!

Remember Woodrow Whiskers from the La Vida Lydia Colony? He showed up sick in December. After I fully vetted him he was admitted into Tree House. IMG_0191

He was adopted last week. When I called to tell Lydia, his feeder, the good news, she already knew because she tried to visit him! Right now she is also trying to bring her remaining TNR’d colony cat inside, but he is still not interested. He doesn’t even use the outdoor cat shelters I made for him.


Lydia lives on the opposite end of my block, so between the two of us, we’ve got our eye on every cat that should wander into our alley.


Remember Berto from the Marta Volta Colony? I also found him in December. IMG_9445

He was admitted right away into Tree House’s Petco program. Then he was transferred into their Bucktown shelter. A man from Naperville saw his Petfinder profile, came to meet him, and adopted him on the spot.


Best of luck to Woodrow and Berto in their new homes!


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Happy New Year for Woodrow!

Woodrow Whiskers became sick earlier this month and has been indoors with his feeder ever since. I took him to the vet multiple times and with antibiotics and pain medications, he seemed to get well quickly and enjoyed being indoors. His feeder took good care of him, but could not afford the vet care. Your donations really helped him out and I am incredibly grateful.


Woodrow is now in another foster home through Tree House. I took him to their clinic yesterday, where they think his bladder problems are a result of cystitis. He also needs a dental. Once he is fully vetted he will be admitted into their shelter.


I am so thankful for Tree House helping me rescue cats like Woodrow. Cheers to a New Year, and a new beginning for him.  IMG_7108

Dawn says:

love him.. Happy New Year to you

Steve Maziarka says:

I am not on Facebook but we are interested in meeting Woodrow and possibly adopting him into our cat family. Please contact me at my email address.

Vanessa says:

Hi Steve, that’s great news! If you’re interested in meeting Woodrow, the contact information for him is included in this link. https://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/31040243/

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Please Donate and Help Cats Like Woodrow

My credit card company must think I like to travel only to eat bad airport food and then go to the vet and Petsmart all the time when I’m home. IMG_9647

December has been insane and full on emergency mode when I’m in town on my days off from work. We TNReturned a colony, got seven kittens and one adult cat off the street, and vetted Woodrow Whiskers, who is now being fostered for adoption. The $486 in vet bills are all his. He is now a happy, healthy cat that is loving the attention indoors. Any amount helps me keep helping cats like him. You can donate through Paypal at [email protected], or through the Paypal button at the top of this page.


Woodrow thanks you! If you’d like to adopt, foster, or just want to visit him, he loves to play patty cake with his polydactyl paws. IMG_9615

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Woodrow Whiskers is Available for Adoption or Fostering

Woodrow Whiskers is fully recovered and available for adoption or fostering. He is playful, likes to snuggle, is fine with other cats, and discovered the pure joy of making happy paws with all 12 of his front toes on blue shag carpeting. He is loving being indoors now. Please contact me or visit this link for more info on him: https://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/31040243/


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Dawn says:

omg look at those toes love him : )

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Woodrow Whiskers is Available for Adoption

Woodrow Whiskers is feeling much better now after his vet visits. He’s been indoors with his feeder for almost two weeks now.  IMG_9474

If you’d like to make a donation to his $485 vet bill there is a Paypal donation link at the top of this page, or you can email [email protected]


He had inflammation that made it hard for him to urinate, but the antibiotics and medical care has worked wonders on him.


I would be happy to share what the vet bill entailed should you have any questions. He is neutered, vaccinated, and tested negative.


He is available for adoption or fostering through Tree House. Here is the link to his Petfinder profile.


Please feel free to share so that we can get this polydactyl boy adopted into an indoor home. He is clearly comfortable there. IMG_9429



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Feral Cat Colony Maintenance: Treating a Wounded Cat

Neighbors told me they saw kittens in their yard. That in itself is an emergency, so my friend Marta and I set traps all last week.


We scoped out the two locations. These locations were in secure yards, the weather was mild, and there was no set feeding time for the cats. So, we decided to set traps overnight, otherwise known as what I call “stealth trapping.” I’ve done it many times in my area. It is a great way to get cats that you never knew existed in the first place. And on this occasion, it turned out to be a lifesaver for a cat.


One of the locations is in a churchyard. We had the, ahem, pastor’s “blessing” and full access to her secluded yard. Neighbors told us that cats go in and out of her garage. IMG_1504

There’s a gated area next to the garage where we placed traps. IMG_1503


I’ve trapped here before. This church is on the same block as a hoarder/drug house that I worked on for a few years until it was finally shut down last summer by the city. Many of the cats on this block obviously came from that house. But I do believe all of the cats thrown out of that house are now TNR’d, because we never trapped or saw any kittens last week (although I’ll keep trying just in case I’m wrong). All we trapped were ear tipped cats. They were all returned immediately outside.


Except for this big tom cat with a head wound. I named him Iglesio, in honor of the churchyard, or otherwise known as Iggy. He was already ear tipped, but I did not recognize him. IMG_1462

IMG_1470 Roscoe Village Animal Hospital agreed to see him immediately. They are known in the TNR community for treating cats in traps. They treated Woodrow Whiskers for me last winter.


Dr. Harschut explained that the wound was an infected abscess from most likely a cat bite. They sedated Iglesio, thoroughly cleaned and shaved the area, administered pain medication and antibiotics, and graciously gave me a rescue discount. The total cost was $219.


Iglesio looked like this when I came to pick him up later that day. IMG_1485

Unfortunately the wound was now bleeding into his eyes, so the vet also gave me an eye cleaning solution to avoid infection. She said he could be released within 48 hours if all went well.


I set Iglesio up in the feral cat recovery lounge in my house.


The vet had also scanned for a microchip, and gave me his number. I traced it to Tree House, who called the person who TNR’d him. She then called me. Iglesio was the only cat she had ever TNR’d in my neighborhood almost exactly two years ago to the day I re-trapped him. She had trapped him up the street from me, and even named him after the street I live on! She has since moved to Vegas, and did not know who was feeding Iglesio.


Asides from the wound, Iglesio is in good shape, and weighs fourteen pounds. Obviously he has found someone who feeds him regularly. There’s a feeder on almost every block in my neighborhood.


Within the next few days he looked a million times better. Antibiotics are a beautiful thing.  IMG_1574

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In the meantime, he started showing signs of friendliness. IMG_1552

So I kept him for a few extra days to see if he wanted to stay indoors.


Ultimately Iglesio really likes to be pet, and is very motivated by food. However, once he’s fed, he then clearly was looking to escape the entire time. He was stressed out by the crate and the room he was in. He would hide from me once he finished eating. I decided to return him to the churchyard.


It turned out to be the right decision. He bolted from the trap and ran to a very specific location. I know exactly where to keep an eye out for him should he ever require additional vet care, or if he ever shows that he would want to come indoors permanently. I’ve also transferred his microchip information in my name.


If you’d like to make a donation to help us care for cats like Iglesio, you can donate through Paypal through the link at the top of this page, or through [email protected]






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TNR Works: 67% Reduction in Outdoor Cats Since 2007

Here are the numbers:


A total of 177 cats were TNR’d within one square mile since 2007.


59 of those cats remain outside here at 20 colony sites where they are fed and sheltered. Outdoor cat population decreased at 18 of those locations. Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 9.31.48 AM

Compare that with last year’s numbers of 153 cats TNR’d, and 70 of those cats remaining outside.


TNR works.


Even though 24 more cats were TNR’d here last year, the outdoor cat population decreased overall even more from 2013 to 2014, from 55% to two thirds reduction: 67 percent!


That means only one in three cats remain outside here ever since I started TNR!


How does that work? The majority of the 24 “new” cats from last year were friendly, most likely people’s cats left outside, so they were pulled off the street for adoption. Even though we added one more colony site last year, the Stealer’s Wheel Colony, aka the hoarder/drug house, the majority of those cats were pulled off the site. Out of 16 cats only 3 were TNReturned. The other 13 were admitted into shelters, relocated, or died.


In the meantime, some of the other colony cats, like PatchesClover, Wally, Berto, and Woodrow Whiskers decided to become friendly and were adopted into indoor homes.



And some of the colony cats were euthanized/died. RIP Dice and Betty.

Or the cats disappeared, like Noche Nariz.

We would see even greater reductions in numbers if people stopped leaving their pets outside, or there was no such thing as animal hoarders. Those are things I cannot control, and do not dispute how TNR works, because they really have nothing to do with TNR. TNR is for feral cats, and there have been very, very few “true ferals” here in the past few years. If I have to TNReturn cats here outside, it’s because I cannot find indoor homes for them fast enough. I am also pretty busy caring for the medical needs of these fantastic “legacy” colony cats as they are aging gracefully out there. They are doing well, but older cats sometimes get sick.


The ONLY point of TNR is to reduce the cat population humanely. I can never say it enough. I dream of the day of not seeing cats in every alley. We are getting closer to that reality.


Here’s the case study to illustrate the point: Feral-Cat-Map-2014-Page-1

Feral-Cat-Map-2014-Page-2 If you want to download this case study here’s the pdf:

Feral Cat Map 2014


I also helped people TNR outside of this area. I call these “satellite colonies” and the colony numbers were reduced as well, by more than a third overall. Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 9.46.17 AM

If you’d like to know more about how TNR works in reducing the outdoor cat populations, please visit Alley Cat Allies, a national organization dedicated to protecting and improving the lives of our nation’s cats. They have a number of case studies conducted nationally of people and organizations doing TNR successfully. I am happy to be included on that list.






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The Costs of Cat Colony Caregiving

There is a lot of invested time, effort and money needed to help the feral cat colonies. But I wanted to share the numbers here to show what can be done, that it’s not impossible, and to thank all of you again so much for your support. Also, I know there are people out there who do so much, and I really encourage everyone to broadcast their rescue work. People do amazing things, and their stories can also inspire others to help more animals.


So, here’s a look at 2014, a year in review, if you will:


Colony medical costs were $2,767.37, for seven cats that I found sick outside.


Cat food and supplies cost $1,579.69


Thank you again to Barb G., Ben M. and Carolyn T., Carlin R. and Kathy M., Dorota Z., Elisa G., Erica R. and Rob J., Greer G., Heather F., Joyce K., Kristina R. and her mom, Linda R., Liz H., Lora M., Niuris R. and family, Rachel and Nick K., Rhodri K., Rob and Candice C., Zac and Beth N. Your Paypal donations totaled $1398.79


Thanks to Janessa and Forget Me Knodt for teaming up on the Feral Flowers Project and selling the flowers I grew in my garden last summer, and for hosting a Feral Flowers Design and TNR Class. Together we raised $1,181.50, and also raised a lot of awareness for the outdoor cats.


Thanks to my friend and bandmate, Julia B., for hosting a Halloween show of rock music, called Feral Fete,  performed by my amazing, animal-loving friends, and donating all proceeds, $702, to Cats In My Yard.


Without donations and fundraising, this would have been so much harder. In total, as of the end of 2014, 177 cats were TNR’d in 20 locations within one square mile here since 2007. There are now 59 cats remaining outside. The other cats were either adopted out, died, or disappeared.


And sometimes the remaining ones get sick, especially now that the colony cats are aging. I believe all animals’ lives matter, whether they are feral or not, and will try to provide any medical care necessary. I want to thank North Center Animal Hospital, Roscoe Village Animal Hospital, and Village West Veterinary for their help, care and compassion in treating cats in traps.


Here’s another look at the cats that your donations and support helped with last year. Please note that some of these images may be distressing to look at.



Munkimo from the Mother Colony showed up at his feeder’s house in obvious distress during a winter storm last February. He was cold, wet, shivering, and there was blood on his back. I easily placed him in a trap and took him for multiple vet visits. His bills totaled $309.55 Munkimo tested FIV+, but he was sick because of an infected bite wound and upper respiratory infection, URI. The skin just peeled off of his back. He had a fever, and his paw pads were black with frostbite. After being crated in my house and treated with antibiotics, he bounced back within a few weeks. But I had to keep him inside crated for almost two months because this was during the Polar Vortex and he still needed the hair on his back to grow. He has been doing fine ever since I returned him.

Zombie Cat

Zombie Cat from the V Colony had sores behind her ears, disheveled fur, labored breathing, and a chronic URI. I trapped her and brought her in for multiple vet visits. She had several rounds of antibiotics and a dental. Her medical bills totaled $518.22 She stayed with me for two months in Feral Cat Recovery Lounge donated to me by Dave H. During this same time it got stressful because I was also treating another feral cat for URI (Sneezy), and then another cat (Wally) came in sick that I ended up treating and fostering because he was also friendly. And I had a planned vacation during this. But it worked out, and even though Zombie Cat still gets sick with URI, she is much better. And definitely doing better outside.


Sneezy from the V Colony was just with me for a week in a recovery Tru-catch trap. He was treated with antibiotics that just cost $10 for his chronic URI. Sneezy was absolutely terrified the entire time, so confinement is extra stressful for him. I had to weigh the stress of that against his overall well-being. He still gets a bit sick outside, and sleeps a lot, but is doing better.


Wally also showed up sick in the V Colony a few weeks after his TNR. He turned out to be incredibly friendly, so I ended up fostering him for two months while he was being treated for haemobartonella and taking him to the vet. His medical bills totaled $326.42 He made a full recovery and was adopted by my good friends Carlin and Kathy in St Louis.

Billy Idol

Billy Idol from the V Colony showed up sick while I was fostering Wally. His head was tilted to the side, he meowed nonstop, his eyes were red and had discharge, and he walked in circles. The vet determined that he was suffering possibly from toxoplasmosis and a URI. His medical bills totaled $257.05 Thankfully his feeders were able to treat Billy in a recovery trap for a week with antibiotics and medication. Billy seemed to get better and they let him back out into the colony because he was stressed from the confinement. So far ever since he seems to be doing well.


Dice is from my colony, the James’ Gang Colony, and he got really sick last year. In the spring I trapped and took him to the vet where he was treated for URI, stomatitis, and had 10 teeth pulled with his dental. This seemed to buy him some time, but he was sick again in the fall. He showed up one day and just laid in my yard. He was down to four pounds and the vet thought perhaps he was going into kidney failure. His medical bills totaled $860.03 Also, confinement was incredibly stressful for Dice. He would only eat, and could barely move. Ultimately, after a few days, he was humanely euthanized at the vet’s office. RIP, Dice. My heart still breaks when I think of him. The last photo is from back when he was a healthy, TNR’d colony cat.

Woodrow Whiskers

Woodrow Whiskers from the La Vida Lydia Colony disappeared and then showed up sick at his feeder’s house. She took him in, and he was docile and clearly in distress. He would urinate sporadically. I took him for multiple vet visits where they treated his bladder, did blood tests, and determined he most likely has cystitis. His medical bills totaled $486 He made a full recovery with the antibiotics and medications. He showed his friendly side once he was indoors, so was admitted to a no-kill shelter for adoption.

I’ve got my eye on a few cats I’m concerned about out there, and am busy with the colony cats that decided to show their friendly side. And I have plans to help TNR colonies for other feeders. Onward to 2015!

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Thank You, Ben M., for Your Generous Donation and Compassion!

Ben’s new ongoing Paypal donation came as a complete surprise this week. I am so grateful.


These donations help with other surprises like Woodrow Whisker’s vet visit this week. So far Woodrow’s medical bill is $285. He is a colony cat TNR’d in 2010 that became very ill over this past weekend. After disappearing for five days, he showed up at his feeder’s door and wouldn’t eat, hardly moved, and kept urinating all over himself. She brought him indoors, and I took him to the vet as soon as I could.


TNR is not just Trap-Neuter-Return. It is also TNRManagement for the cats’ medical needs and care as they arise.


Woodrow’s three-hour vet visit included blood tests, administering fluids, oral meds, and cleaning up his backside, all while trying to figure out what is going on with him. He behaved beautifully the entire time. Just look at him.


Seriously, look. At. Those. Cheeks! IMG_9408

I will post more once I have an update on his condition. We really don’t know what to think right now. If you would like to make a donation towards Woodrow’s care and the care of the other colony cats you can do so at the Paypal Donate link at the top of this page, or through [email protected]

Dawn says:

omg he is so handsome, and looks so sweet, please keep us updated

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