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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RIP Crystal

When we met Jean, she showed us Crystal, one of her twenty colony cats. Crystal’s left ear looked completely eaten away.


Jean trapped Crystal, and Joann rushed her to our vet, Elmhurst Animal Care Center. They ruled out bite wounds, and said her ear was either caused by frostbite or cancer. They sent out a sample for a biopsy, with results taking 3-5 days.


In the meantime Crystal was hospitalized there. She had such low blood pressure they could not get a blood sample. She had a high fever, so they gave her an injection to lower it. The vet performed surgery and cleaned her ear. She was put on medication for the pain, and on antibiotics for infection. They discovered she did not have any teeth left. She tested positive for FIV. She was estimated to be about 9-10 years old.


Crystal was feral and outdoors her whole life. She was TNR’d in 2013. This new environment was very alien to her, and she was completely terrified. Her physical pain was hopefully eased by medicine, but she was still suffering. She did not react or respond to anyone. She refused to eat.


But she was bonded to Jean, so Joann brought Jean to visit her. Crystal recognized her, and let Jean pet and even hold her a little bit. Jean was also able to feed her.

A few days later the biopsy results came back: Crystal had squamous cell carcinoma. Crystal fit the profile for cats most susceptible to this type of skin cancer – she was a white cat, of about the right age, and was outside exposed to the sun. Also, her immune system was further compromised because she was FIV+.


It is a very invasive cancer, and obviously this diagnosis was not early. Crystal’s entire ear was almost gone. The cancer would have continued to spread, and she would’ve required vigilant observation and continued care, most likely chemotherapy.


Joann brought Jean to our vet, Dr. Harris, where he carefully explained everything. Euthanasia was the most humane answer in this case. Crystal died surrounded by their love and kindness.


We are also so grateful to all of you for your love and kindness, and for all of your donations. The costs of $501.40 was covered. Jean could not believe it, even though I told her right when I saw Crystal that whatever happened, we would take care of it, included financially. Jean is extremely grateful for all that was done, but is grieving now. I’d also like to especially thank Joann, who was with Jean every step of the way. The cat community is truly inspiring.


May you rest in peace, Crystal.



Ben says:

Safe travels on the rainbow road sweet girl. I’m sorry we couldn’t save you.

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Jean and Crystal Reunited: A Caregiver Visits Her Sick Colony Cat at the Vet

The vet told us Crystal, a sick cat from Jean’s colony, was suffering and hasn’t eaten while hospitalized there since last Friday.


Crystal has necrosis of the left ear, and it is completely gone, bloody and crusted. Her caregiver, Jean, trapped her last Friday and Joann rushed her straight to our vet, Elmhurst Animal Care Center. She has been there ever since, medicated and under observation, while we wait for the biopsy results.


Since Crystal is an outdoor colony cat who is familiar and bonded with Jean only so far, we hoped that she might feel better if she actually SAW Jean. Cats can shut down easily and be terrified in such alien environments, even though they know they are being helped and stabilized with medication. Crystal’s appearance is still alarming but now that she has recovered from surgery and cleaned up she looks so much better than last week. We are so grateful for Elmhurst’s expert care!

Joann drove Jean to the vet for a visit. When Crystal saw Jean the results were spectacular, better than we could have ever hoped.


Jean was able to touch and pet her.

Then she fed her a full meal by hand. And she was able to hold her. This is such a testament to what we are all capable of when we are compassionate and caring. Age and circumstance do not limit us. Jean has a special touch with these cats, and they respond. We are still waiting and hoping for a positive outcome for Crystal. We’ve learned a lot from both of them this past week.




sarah e lauzen says:

so beautiful.

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Vetting Crystal, the Cat with the Missing Ear

Crystal was trapped with 28 other cats living in Jean’s yard in 2013.


Jean’s colony is now down to 13 outdoor cats, and seven indoor cats. All are spayed and neutered.


Jean is probably in her mid-eighties and walks with a cane. She still navigates all three floors of her home, and cares for the cats as best as she can all day by herself on a limited income. She is sharp and fun to talk to. She loves the cats dearly and cares for them as best as she can, but obviously twenty cats takes a lot of time, upkeep and money. Her house is clearly dedicated to the cats – they have pretty much taken over. When Kim and I visited with a donation of cat food and supplies the other week, we saw that some of the cats were sick, even ones that Jean had taken to a vet on her own. Jean was humbled by the donation, even though we kept telling her that this amount of work would be difficult for anyone to handle.


The one cat that clearly needed help immediately was Crystal, part of the outdoor colony. Her entire left ear appeared to be missing.

I remembered Crystal from when I posted about her TNR along with the other cats. This is what she looked like then, and the post also even contains video of her return back to the colony. She’s the last cat returned at the end of it. Jean said Crystal’s ear had been slowly deteriorating but was overwhelmed with vet bills already. Kim and I offered immediately to trap Crystal and take her to our vet, Elmhurst Animal Care Center. Remarkably Jean said she could try to trap her herself and needed to think about the best way to do it. Caregivers know their colony the best, so this is ideal, but at the same time we didn’t really want Jean to try because of her physical condition. The traps are heavy!


Well, last Friday, Jean trapped Crystal on her own! She knew where Crystal usually slept, and placed the trap against the only exit. After awhile Crystal had to go in and she did!


Up close, Crystal’s appearance was even more alarming. We are so grateful to Jean to have trapped her when she did. Joann immediately took Crystal to Elmhurst that night, where she has stayed ever since. When Joann went to pick her up, Jean came out of her house carrying the trap by herself while walking with her cane as well. Seriously, kudos to Jean for her tenacity and passion for these cats. We are in awe, and want to help her any way we can.


Joann said the smell from Crystal was so bad that she thought she defecated in the trap, but it was from her ear.


The vets said the condition of her ear was from necrosis, either from frostbite or cancer. They ruled out bite wounds. We will know the biopsy results soon.


Her ear was cleaned and she was given Convenia (antibiotic) for the infection. Her blood pressure was so low that they might not have gotten enough blood for a blood sample. She had a fever of 103.5 degrees and was given an injection to lower that. She is also on pain medication so that she can rest comfortably there. She tested FIV+. They told us she had no teeth left, but her gums look good regardless. She is estimated to be about nine years old.


We are so grateful to Jean for trapping Crystal when she did. Crystal would not last that much longer on her own in the cold outside without medical care. At the same time, Jean told me she is embarrassed and doesn’t want anyone to think she is neglectful of her colony. We do not think that at all, and I really hope Jean understands that when I tell her. Joann and I have talked to her as best as we can about this.


THANK YOU to Joann and Kim for all of their help this past week with this colony! And thanks to the Elmhurst vets for their expert and compassionate care, as always, so far.


If you’d like to make a donation towards Crystal’s care, you can do so at the donation button at the top of this page, or through PayPal at [email protected]


THANK YOU to all who have donated so far, and for all of your healing thoughts and prayers sent her way!



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Newt Gets a New Indoor Home!

So happy to hear that Newt, a cat I TNR’d in my yard in 2013, is now a fully 100% indoor cat in my neighbor’s home!


When I first saw Newt he lounged around all over my yard.

Once he was TNR’d, Newt started visiting Amanda, my neighbor, a few blocks away. She let him in and out of her house for awhile.


I called her home the Ginger Colony because there were a few other cats there throughout the years. Then Newt joined in.


Now that he is permanently indoor cat, this colony is now officially retired. Congrats to Newt and Amanda!

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Helping Caregivers with Cat Colony Management

Edda is a 60-year old woman with limited income and means caring for up to 20 cats in the Hermosa neighborhood of Chicago, an area filled with cats. This is a very common scenario on the west side of Chicago and all over for people who feed cats.


My TNR friend Oleksandra told me about Edda when I asked her if she knew of any cat colony caregivers who needed extra cat food and supplies. Edda’s outdoor cats were all TNR’d by Oleksandra, Erica and Brianna a few years ago. Since then Oleksandra keeps in touch and helps Edda care for the cats, including additional vetting, since they live close, along with many other TNR’d colonies.


I met Edda this week with a delivery of cat food, an electric heated food/water bowl, and a bale of straw for her outdoor cat shelters. Thank you to all who have donated their extra supplies to us! This is an example of where they are distributed to.


Edda gave me a tour of the cats that she cares for. Every cat I saw was ear-tipped. I was impressed by that but not surprised because I know how thorough Oleksandra is when it comes to TNR.


I want to reiterate again that this is a common scene people run into with TNR. Caregivers and feeders do what they can with what they have for these cats. TNR is not just about helping the cats – it’s also about helping people and the community.


Edda has five cats living in the basement of her apartment building. I only saw one because they are semi-feral and go up into the rafters when they hear people.

This is the feeding station in her basement, with cat shelters in the back.

The cats can look out the door when it’s open. Edda does not want to let them out because she said there are people who live around there who abuse the cats. This is why she brought them in in the first place. Now she’s worried about finding them homes because she worries what will happen to them if she has to move. She said she is not well and has already refused going to the hospital because she worries about what will happen to the cats.


Another one of her TNR’d cats lives in the basement next door. He has to be kept separate because the other cats will fight with him.

She also cares for a cat across the alley. He is at the bottom of this photo by the cars. He has shelter inside that building, at the top of the stairs where the door is always open. Edda has permission to access to this building.

The stairs are extremely rickety to navigate for humans. Inside are multiple cat shelters for him and any other cats to use. There used to be another black cat here that got very sick. Oleksandra took him to the vet last year and he was treated for awhile, but ultimately had to be euthanized. There are several raccoons that also go there.

Here’s a wide view of this room, with the shelters towards the back.

Edda also feeds a dozen or so cats across the street that live in a woman’s yard. As soon as we started walking towards this house, we saw the colony running around outside.

Edda thinks this cat, Mario, is sick. Obviously I’ve never seen him before so I don’t have a comparison, but he did look disheveled. Otherwise, he moved quickly and has a very good appetite. I gave Edda antibiotics that I got as a donation (thanks, Melanie!) to try for him which might help any infection he may have. If he still looks sick after that, I offered to take him to the vet for her. 

The woman who lives there also feeds, and has outdoor cat shelters underneath the blue tarp. As soon as Edda started getting the food ready, the cats came out, jumping the fence towards her.

And waited impatiently, wondering who I was.

Mario was first in line. Seriously, look at him creep behind her! The other tabby on the left below only uses three of his legs. One of his back hind legs is held out in the air. He was like that when they trapped him and they’re not sure how closely the clinic looked at his leg when he was TNR’d. But he’s been like this now for three years there, so whatever injury he had would have healed by now, or it’s a birth defect. He can’t run very well, but he obviously knows how to survive. Nevertheless, I did tell Edda that we could take him to a vet as well for another look, but it should wait until warmer weather in case a procedure is needed with a long recovery time. It’s too cold to be putting a cat back and forth outside with unnecessary stress.

Still wondering who I am… the cats waited until we left to eat.

I’ll continue to try to keep in touch with Edda and help in any way I can. If you live in the Hermosa area and would like to help, please call 773-609-CATS (2287) or email [email protected]



Amanda Reynolds says:

I love Edda!!
I love you and your group along with the various people who give unto your great work! It is such a desperately needed work in this day. ;/
I have to believe that in time what is being done in your area will indeed be done in Rockford, Illinois and every other city where sentient beings with so very much to offer instead suffer silently.
God bless all involved!!!

Vanessa says:

Thank you for the kind words, Amanda! And thanks for everything you do for the cats!

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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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