Happy New Year! Looking forward to 2013

Part of being a registered cat colony caretaker per the 2007 Cook County Managed Care of Feral Cats Ordinance 07-O-72 is submitting the information on all of the cats you have TNR’ed.

I just submitted my updated colony information to Tree House. I’ve been registered with them since 2007. This was a great way for me to get my paperwork organized.

So, here’s the cat math.
Since 2004, I have spayed/neutered 171 cats in 18 locations, most of which are within 6 blocks away from me. Most of these cats were TNR’ed.
50 of these cats were adopted out or admitted into no-kill shelters.

But the number I am most interested in is how many more cats were NOT born outside as a result of doing TNR. It’s a number I cannot prove, because I prevented it from happening. But it is why I do what I do.

The numbers don’t seem real until I am faced with a new colony. Then it’s easy to see how the numbers add up because a colony that is not being TNR’ed usually looks like this at feeding time.

From left to right: Francis, Clover, Blackie, Patches, Spokes, and Gracie

From left to right: Francis, Clover, Blackie, Patches, Spokes, and Gracie

This is some of the cats from the Eleanor Rigby Colony that PAWS Chicago told me about in 2008 before I started TNR. Since then, I have TNR’ed or adopted out 18 feral and stray cats and kittens from there. 4 years later, the colony is now down to just 4 cats being fed regularly. This is proof that TNR works. How many more cats would be there today had nothing been done? Even if the cats were just all removed, more will keep coming to take their place, which is known as the vacuum effect.

So here’s to a new year! I’m going to keep thinking about these numbers and make 2013 the best year yet.

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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: http://www.alleycat.org/page.aspx?pid=444

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Chiminea Cat

Honey Bouncy Bear found a new use for our chiminea. She’s a part of our James’ Gang Colony and has been coming to our yard regularly since being TNR’ed in May of 2011 at PAWS Chicago.

You weren’t going to use this for anything else, were you?

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Update on Hoarder Home

The hoarder home owners of the Stealers Wheel Colony have become unpredictable and the indoor TNR part of this project will have to wait until after the holidays. This project is much more than I can handle on my own.

They are not just hoarders. There are many, many other problems in this house. The landlord lives in the building and walked away when I asked her if she wanted to help. None of the doors have locks on them. Different people come and go without introduction while we are there. I have my suspicions on the causes of these problems, but all I can do is try to help the animals.

My animal rescue neighbor who originally found this house took four of the cats to be TNR’ed. When she brought them back, the hoarder owners refused to take back one of the cats, and made her take another one that they randomly chose. These two cats are now in her spare room and need placement in a shelter or foster home as she is fostering other animals and did not expect this.

They are both male tabby cats, fully vetted, tested negative for FIV-/FeLV-, litter-trained, and dog-friendly.

This is Gigio.

Gigio poses with a tail curl.

This is Marble.

Marble relaxes and shows off his marble tabby stripes.

Marble and Gigio are friends.

These two are checking out their new cat toys.

In fact, these two are friends with everyone.

Sugar the Shih Tzu loves the tabbies, and the tabbies love him right back.

Gigio and Marble come from chaos so nothing seems to faze them – they are having a great time in their foster home and want to meet and play with every human and furry friend that visits them. If you know of anyone who is looking to adopt or foster any of the cats or know of any other ways to help, please let me know.

The West Bucktown Hood Assoc. just posted a little story about this awful situation. I’m just wondering why ACS is getting involved? I’m going to guess that someone has complained or reported the situation, but if the cats are all healthy, would ACS really put them down? Hell, contact PAWS. The other day, I saw on the news that some old man left behind $1.3 million to PAWS and 3 other area no-kill shelters. PAWS was the only shelter in Chicago proper. I posted a plea to my friends on FB, in an attempt to help you…but most ppl I know will likely turn a blind eye. Best of luck, you are doing a good thing.

Vanessa says:

Hi Pam, thanks for the kind words! My original plan was to trap-neuter-return all of the cats back into the house and we have done 9 so far, 2 of which are being fostered by another neighbor. I have contacted PAWS and every other foster organization and no-kill shelter that I know about to foster and/or admit these cats into their program as the owners do not want the cats and this is too many cats for me to handle on my own. The owners have also become unpredictable so I am not currently able to continue this indoor TNR project as planned. Anti-Cruelty Society’s humane investigators and Animal Care and Control Officers have been inside this home and they also agree that the cats appear to be healthy and adoptable, so I’m hoping that will happen with their help. If you know of any organizations that can help foster or admit these cats, please feel free to contact them and I can forward you the information about this house.

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Adopters and Fosterers Needed for Animal Hoarder Home

This week I was alerted to a hoarder home less than five blocks away from me. I counted up to 16 cats (the owners claim there are up to 19 cats), 2 birds and a chihuahua. The entire house looks like the photos below.

Renegade is checking out the birds.

Gidget is looking for food in the kitchen.

This is not just a hoarder home – there seems to be other problems as well. For now the couple that lives here are cooperative with me and want most of the cats adopted out. The best immediate help I can offer is to take the cats to a clinic for spay/neuter surgeries and vaccinations to stop the breeding, and return the cats back to them inside. I need help finding foster or forever homes for 16+ cats.

So far we have fixed eight of the cats and returned them to the house. The majority of these cats are completely socialized. They seek attention and are quite playful.

This tabby cat wants belly rubs!

Renegade grooms himself on a cage.

The cat tower is still in use.

The cats are big, appear to be healthy, and get along with each other, even during feeding time.

They are litter trained. They still try to use the litter boxes that were originally there, even though they are dirty and filled with sand, not litter.

We brought new litter boxes and clay litter. The cats used them immediately.

We used traps to bring the cats to the clinic. The cats were calm and curious once inside the traps. Here are just a few of the cats and they are all available for adoption.




This is what would be considered an “indoor TNR” project. I am naming this group the Stealers Wheel Colony because I found a sign in the backyard with the lyrics from their song “Stuck in the Middle With You.”

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am stuck in the middle with you.

These cats are stuck in the middle through no fault of their own. If anyone has any leads for adopters or fosterers, or any ideas on how to help, I am all ears.

Update on Vito

Remember we were all worried about Vito the other day? It turns out he has made a full recovery because the mass on his jaw was actually an infection. Antibiotics took care of it.

Catnip makes him smile.

Vito won’t drop it like it’s hot anytime soon.

Vito is a former feral colony cat that was trapped-neutered-returned TNR’ed to the V Colony. Then he was adopted by my friends because he was so friendly. He shares this home with two other rescue cats: Sparkles was adopted from Chicago Animal Care and Control and Belial was adopted from the kitten room at PAWS Chicago.

Now Vito says to get off the computer and go enjoy the weekend!

Stop working!

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Careful! It’s a Tru-Catch Trap!

I have amazing, generous, wildly creative friends. Last month one of my bands, noise&light, played a Halloween show at Klas restuarant. My friend from my other band, The Columbines, is the mastermind behind this annual event. This year she organized performances from a dozen bands, delicious Czech food courtesy of Klas, a raffle for some amazing eclectic prizes, and a costume contest. Then she donated half of the proceeds to her charity of choice, Women for Women International, and the other half to help out the cats for TNR!

So far I used this donation to purchase four Tru-Catch traps. These small animal traps are preferred among feral cat trappers for Trap-Neuter-Return TNR projects. This humane trap seems to work best for me when trapping an outdoor feral cat colony, and I can fit four of these in my catty wagon when I take them to spay/neuter clinics.

Mooha approves.

If I can’t get in the box, at least I can sit on top of it.

Mooha is one of my senior indoor cats from La Casa de Vansassa. She is the first to get into everything.

Here’s a Tru-Catch trap in action with the Iron Works Colony.

Hey! He pushed me!

Here’s another look at the traps exposed and baited with food. This is the Eleanor Rigby Colony that I first TNR’ed in 2008. When the colony is hungry, the cats will go in safely without getting hurt.

Project TNR: One day they’re in, and the next day they’re out.

I already have some TNR projects scheduled next month to start using these traps and help get more community cats spayed and neutered.

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Get Well, Vito!

Vito is a former outdoor colony cat from the V Colony. When my friend from the Chicagoland Stray Cat Coalition was trapping there in 2011, she noticed how friendly Vito was right away. She TNReturn’ed him at first, but then he kept jumping into her car when she would come back to try and trap some more. I agreed to foster him.

Vito did not stay in my house long. As soon as my friends and band mates from The Columbines saw him, they pretty much took him into their home. Recently Vito has been acting funny, so they took him to the vet where they discovered a mass in his jaw. If you look closely you can kind of tell here. It’s on the right side.

Vito on his favorite cat ledge.

A mass can either be benign or cancer. Please keep your fingers crossed that the test results come back negative!

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Happy TNR Anniversary, Dash!

I found Dash, one of our colony cats, sunning himself in my yard this morning despite the cold. I call this little sitting area the Catio. He definitely has beefed up and grown a winter coat in preparation for the weather.

The catio is still open.

This is the closest Dash has ever allowed me near him. He is tolerant of the rest of our James Gang Colony, but does not hang out with them unless he has to. I just looked up his TNR surgery record from PAWS Chicago and saw that his surgery was done on November 18, 2007, and he’s been coming to our yard somewhat regularly for five years ever since. He was already an adult when I TNR’ed him, so that means he may be a senior cat by now.

Dash is proof that feral cats know how to live outdoors and survive. I do not know where he goes all day, but he feeds in our yard, and I have seen him sporadically throughout the neighborhood. He does not use our outdoor cat shelters – he goes elsewhere. He is pretty solitary as far as I can tell. Sometimes I do not see him for weeks at a time.

When I TNR’ed Dash in 2007 I did not know to get him microchipped because the 2007 Cook County Managed Care of Feral Cats Ordinance [07-O-72] had just passed and microchipping feral cats was still a new practice here in Chicago. I tried to re-trap him without success throughout the years until this past spring, for some reason, he went into one of my traps. I took him to Tree House’s clinic for their Feral Cat Maintenance Package, where he was updated on his vaccinations for distemper and rabies. Out of curiosity, I tested him for FeLV/FIV and he was negative, and he finally got his microchip. Having the microchip means he will always be traced back to me as his caretaker. I hope that will continue for many more years to come.

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Giving Thanks for a Second Helping

I purrfur to share sometimes.

Recently I discovered a local pet food store, Kriser’s, that has ALL of the brands of cat food my three senior indoor cats love. My cats all eat at the same time, but they each have their own special needs.

Kriser’s has agreed to donate cat food when available to help keep the outdoor TNR’ed community cats fed and healthy. If I get off of work in time today, I’ll be making a stop at some of the feral cat colonies to make sure they get an extra second helping of food.

My alpha female cat Mooha does not quite understand yet which food is hers, but she is always the first to check out anything new. What a wonderful start to the holiday season! Happy Thanksgiving!

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