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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Biker Involved in a Hit and Run, Rescues Kitten Injured in Another Hit and Run, Same Day, Same Street

A car hit Connor and threw him off his bike while he was commuting to work Tuesday on North Avenue in Bucktown. The driver just waved to him and drove away. Connor was not injured but his bike was totaled.


Later that same day, while walking home with his girlfriend, Ashley, on that same stretch of North Avenue a block away from where he was hit, they saw a kitten dart out into traffic and also get hit by a car. She limped back to the sidewalk. This driver also did not stop. Other people saw but did nothing. Connor and Ashley scooped up the kitten and took her home with them.


They then took her to their vet.

X-rays revealed two bones in her right front toes were broken. Thankfully the other toes can act as a splint and she only has to wear a bandage to keep her foot immobile during the healing process, which will take about eight weeks. She also has to wear a cone. Both will be adjusted during regular vet visits as she is still growing.


The vet gave her pain meds, fully vaccinated her, and she tested FIV-FeLV-.  She is not spayed and they did not find a microchip. Her spay surgery will come later. This vet was very kind and did not charge for most of these services.


Connor named the kitten Crash and they took her home. They are going to fully recover her, get her spayed, and will try to permanently adopt her into their home. Connor and Ashley already have another pet cat they adopted last year from our area so they will do the slow introduction first as Crash recovers. They live right down the street from me and also feed and care for the feral cats here.


When I visited Crash, Ashley bought her outside during our visit because of the set up in her apartment. Is that not the cutest bandage you’ve ever seen?

She has all of the usual energy and sass of a kitten. She is absolutely filthy and was probably on the street for some time.

Otherwise they’re keeping Crash indoors from now on in their office room, where Crash has found ways already to jump up on their desk despite her limited mobility.


Ashley and Connor did keep their eyes out for lost cat posters in that area but it is doubtful they will find an owner. If they end up not being able to keep Crash, they already have friends willing to adopt her.


Which is not surprising, she’s absolutely adorable, very friendly, and will make a great pet cat! Who could resist this face?

Thank you, Connor and Ashley, for rescuing Crash and for all that you do for the outdoor cats!

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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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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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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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We Have the Best Donors and Supporters: Thank You All for All that You Do for the Cats!

We posted about Crystal, a sick TNR’d feral cat from the Luna Colony two weeks ago. After extensive vetting and a week’s hospital stay, Crystal was humanely euthanized because her biopsy showed she had a malignant cancer.


Thanks to all of you who donated towards her care. We couldn’t do this without you! Together we raised more than enough funds to cover Crystal’s care. Thank you: Annamarie F., Barb G., Ben M. and Carolyn T., Cori B., Carla F., Carlin R. and Kathy, Catherine M., Diane D., Elisa G., Heather Z., Joan F., Kristine L., Lindsey P., Lois R., Maryan S. and Oleksandra K., Melody S., Mette P., Mimi M., Paula G., Rita B., Sarah S., Terri V., and Victoria S.!


And we know how much all of you do for the cats in your care as well. Every person I’ve met within this group has done incredible amounts of animal rescue. It is extremely humbling. One of you asked about a cat that was coming to your yard with most of his tail missing. I gave some ideas on where to take the cat, and you were able to get him fully vetted and available for adoption. When I saw the photos, I asked to share the story as well. This amazing donor complied, but wished to remain anonymous. That is how wonderful all of you are.


I like to celebrate the proactive action of people who go out there, see an animal in need, and try to do something about it. I offered a few suggestions to her of resources closer to her that may be able to help. She ran with it, took action on her own, and rescued this cat.


This woman lives in the far northwest suburbs of Chicago and also wanted to remain anonymous because she does not want people to dump their pets on her, or expect the vet she used to always give free vetting. I completely understand the sentiment.


Meet Doc, a cat that started visiting her yard this winter. Most of Doc’s tail was missing and injured.

Despite that, he looked good and had a healthy appetite. He started to visit her yard for food more regularly.

She has a webcam and was able to track his visits to her yard at night.

This is another feral cat that was TNR’d three years ago that she feeds regularly.

A new pregnant female cats has been visiting recently as well that she is currently trying to trap before she has kittens.


And she also gets visits from other wildlife, such as opossums and raccoons.

Doc is friendly, so she tried to put food in a cat carrier but he wouldn’t go in. She also tried a humane trap but that didn’t work either. So she opened the back door to her enclosed porch and he went in to eat. She closed the door and Doc panicked a little, but he was more worried about eating. He settled down when she turned a small heater on and enjoyed the warmth. She got him into a dog crate.

She was able to get him into a vet who also does animal rescue. Doc weighs a healthy fifteen pounds, is pure muscle, and is about 3-4 years old. The vet gave him a full exam and cleaned up his wound. Doc was also then neutered and vaccinated, and then put up for adoption after his tail completely healed. He looks great! We are so happy to hear stories like these! Not only is it a happy ending for an animal in need, it showcases how people can network together and get things done. More animals will be saved with more people being proactive on their own.


sarah e lauzen says:


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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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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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