Using a Drop Trap for Trap-Savvy Cats

We think Maribella is the mama cat to at least some of the kittens being fostered from the Avondale TNR Project.


In true mama cat-like fashion, she’s been very hard to trap. George, the feeder there, will not stop feeding, so that doesn’t help either. In fact, there’s been a lot of things happening here that have thwarted our efforts and things escalated last week, including involving the police, angry neighbors, and more dead cats, but I’ll be writing about each in separate posts. It’s hard to wrap my mind around it otherwise.


So, since traditional Tru-catch traps weren’t working because the cats are being fed no matter what, Joann spent a few days last week using a drop trap in Ray’s courtyard. We’ve been trapping there behind the gate so that we can stay out of George’s way.


This is what it looks like. IMG_7728

The cats were quite interested in the trap. FullSizeRender-6

This one was even playing with the string. FullSizeRender-6 copy

You can see that those cats are ear-tipped. But finally the tabby mama cat went in after two days of trying. Joann transferred Maribella from the drop trap into the Tru-catch trap. IMG_7727

Maribella is now currently at PAWS Chicago for her TNR treatment. She is the 21st cat we trapped so far at this project, all almost within the same alley.

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Trapping Owner’s Indoor/Outdoor Pet Cats

Cats #19 and #20 trapped from the Avondale TNR Project ended up belonging to a neighbor that lets all of their pet cats outside.


Panther was trapped last week and taken to PAWS where she received their TNR package, including spay surgery, ear tipping, microchip, vaccinations, and parasite treatments. IMG_7688

She was also acting friendly in the trap. We’ve been talking to neighbors all around there and Joann figured out who she belonged to. They said they have four other cats they let outside, and Panther was their only intact cat. They gave descriptions of their other cats, but there are so many cats outside in this neighborhood it is hard to keep track. The ear tip is the only universal sure sign that we know that the cat is already fixed. We’ve trapped several ear tipped cats in this project, and as long as they look healthy, we let them out immediately again in the same place they were trapped.


Joann talked to them about cat behavior, keeping their cats inside, registering the microchip in their name, and continued vet care. They were happy to have Panther returned to them.


Thursday night she trapped another cat, and took him to Anti-Cruelty Society for their TNR package. IMG_0665

Hamlin was already neutered, but he received updated vaccinations, microchip, and an ear tip. Because he was already neutered, we thought maybe he was from the same house as Panther. Joann talked to them, and turned out he was, and they wanted him back. They’re going to register the microchip in their name.


At least now these cats are ear tipped so if they are going to get trapped again, they will be let out immediately long as they are not sick or injured.

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RIP Ivan, Colony Cat from Avondale

Ivan is the second cat that has died since we started the Avondale TNR Project. With every TNR project of this size – here we are talking about estimates of 50 cats within three blocks – there are always inevitably sad endings along with the happy ones.


Ivan was trapped and taken to the clinic on May 31st for his TNR treatment. He was feral and his surgery went without a hitch. He was returned back outside to the colony after recovery without a problem, along with a few other TNR’d adult feral cats. They are all healthy, even tested FIV-/FeLV-, and have lots of feeders and garages for shelter.  IMG_7597

The next photos may be upsetting to people, so consider this a warning.


Last weekend Joann got a call from George, the feeder who is trying to stop us from trapping, to say he found a dead cat in the alley. He was furious, and most likely blames us for killing this cat. He also texted Erica from PAWS this photo of Ivan’s dead body, without an explanation. Can you imagine? Dead_cat George also then called Erica and screamed at her for twenty minutes about us and the cats. She has been trying to help him for the past few years now with TNR. We wish we could get him to listen to us, but at this point there is no time or reasoning with him. We want to concentrate on helping the cats as much as possible with the time we have. The only good thing is that at least he called to tell us. Even when the outcome is tragic, it is better to know what happened, rather than just having a cat disappear. When Joann talked to George and other residents, they said someone already threw out his body. Joann and Kim searched the alley and found his body in this dumpster, right near where we’ve been trapping this past month. RIP


This is not the proper way to dispose of an animal’s dead body. Also, they wanted to make sure to scan him for a microchip so that we were absolutely sure that this was Ivan.


Joann took him to MedVet Chicago. They scanned him for his microchip, and examined him. They did not find any signs of trauma or broken bones. They found his mouth was clenched shut and full of blood. They thought he may have died of rat poisoning, but said they could not tell for sure without a necropsy, which costs $900 there. They then disposed of him free of charge. We are very grateful for their help and compassion in this matter. clinic


Ivan also may have died from trauma from being hit by a car. I have found other cats like this, and so have other trappers. Cats get a glancing blow to the head or body, and then die a day or two later from internal bleeding. Yes, a necropsy is needed to know for sure.


RIP, Ivan. We wished we could’ve helped you sooner, but we know you are free of pain now. We will keep trying to help the rest of the cats in this area with TNR.

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Avondale Kittens are Ready for their Close-Ups

We brought the kittens from the Avondale TNR Project to PAWS Chicago for their second round of vaccinations. They ended up needing a little more vetting than that.


These kittens are hilarious. Robin has been fostering them and keeping track of their shenanigans. She sent us photos, and I couldn’t tell them apart. I was convinced she was sending me photos of the same two kittens, when in fact there’s six of them. They stayed with me the other night in my bathroom because we had to drive them to PAWS for their vet appointment the next day.


When you see them in person, then it makes more sense. There are some true look-alikes in there. Also, they’re hard to keep track of and rarely stop moving, in true kitten fashion. Robin said that when they run they look and sound like “a herd of stampeding orange elephants.”


My bathroom is tiny so they didn’t have as many places to go to. In the morning I found them all in the sink. IMG_7627

Yes, there’s five kittens in there. The sixth orange one was who knows where at this point.



Some of the kittens are more relaxed than others, and they started posing for close-ups.  IMG_7629 IMG_7634

Some are more fearful than others, like this tiny little guy, but it really depends on what situation they’re in. Robin has been working really hard on socializing them. IMG_7632

Basically there are two litters, and the older, larger litter is more social at this point.


In the car and carriers somehow they are even more hard to keep track of. The orange ones were all over the place. It was like an orange kitten convention.
IMG_7645 IMG_7647 IMG_7659

The creamsicle kittens were more photogenic this time. IMG_7656 IMG_7651

Joann and I took them to PAWS where they determined that all six kittens are boys! They received their second round of vaccinations, and saw they were starting to get URI, upper respiratory infections. They sent them all home with two weeks worth of doxycycline. They are back with Robin who is busy socializing them more and administering the meds daily for each of them. She is amazing!


Their next appointment at PAWS is this June 30th.



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All Six Avondale Kittens Are Ready for Second Round of Vaccines

Robin F. has been fostering the six kittens trapped from the Avondale TNR Project ever since they were first brought to PAWS Chicago’s clinic.


We are so grateful to have her as a foster and her expertise in socializing! The kittens have come a long way since being born in an old garage in Avondale. They were pretty scared when they were first trapped.


Now they’re all very playful, although some are still more shy than others. IMG_3370


I still can’t tell them apart, but I’m hoping to remedy that tonight. Joann and I are picking them up now from Robin’s house, and they’re going to spend the night here at my house. Then tomorrow we’re taking them to PAWS for their second round of vaccinations and possible admission. Fingers crossed their appointment goes well!


Check out their head shots. Yes, every single one of these is a different kitten. IMG_7518 IMG_3333 IMG_3331 IMG_3330 IMG_3328 IMG_3327

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Another Matted Cat Gets a Haircut Just In Time, and A Lot More

Ziggy Stardust is a long-haired orange cat that’s been hanging out in Kim’s yard for months now.  IMG_0238


Ziggy was not easy to trap, but with trap conditioning, like I did with Puffy, Kim was able to trap her. IMG_0580 2 Yes, I said her. Most orange cats are male, but Ziggy is a female.


The vet also determined that she was already spayed, and about eight years old. Unfortunately she is not microchipped. Because she has been hanging out for so long now in Kim’s yard, we think she is either dumped or lost long ago. She does not let anyone get too close to her.


Once the vet shaved her, they discovered that her mats really were a problem. All of that red you see on her skin here is a rash, now treated with antibiotics. IMG_0595

Boots, another one of Kim’s colony cats, was very concerned about her. They’ve been hanging out a lot together. IMG_0593

Ziggy is also underweight. Since Kim feeds the cats good food daily, they decided to do bloodwork to see what’s going on. She has hyperthyroid and some high liver enzymes. Kim is now putting medication in her food twice daily. She is supposed to be in that medication now for the rest of her life. The vet wants to see her every time the medication needs a refill. Since Ziggy is still acting feral and is so hard to trap, we’re currently trying to figure out how that going to work.


Ziggy also got updated vaccines, flea treatment, and tested negative for FIV/FeLV. Her total vet bill is $526 so far. If you’d like to donate towards her care, you can do so at the donate link at the top of this page, or through, [email protected] Ziggy Invoice

We’re hoping Ziggy continues to improve and gain some weight. Maybe she will learn to trust humans again once she feels better.

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Lion Cuts for Matted, Long-Haired Colony Cats

Puffy is a very fluffy, long-haired cat that comes to my yard irregularly to feed ever since I TNR’d him in 2013.


This past year he’s been looking fluffier than ever. His long-haired coat is magnificent, but starting to look downright disheveled. He’s not easy to capture on camera – he’s a true feral who only visits at dusk or later. 13055269_810741855696864_4387909218079003248_o

His fur looked out of control, but I had to wait to trap until summer when it is hot enough for him to be shaved. So I zip-tied traps open at the cats’ feeding stations and starting feeding from them to condition the cats to the traps.


It worked like a charm. Last week when I came back from vacation Chicago was nice and hot. I set the traps and quickly trapped Bouncy Bear and Dash by accident. I released them immediately. Eventually Puffy went in very early morning. He looked totally suspicious. IMG_7334

And upon closer examination, I saw I made the right call. His fur was out of control, with huge matts. He looked pretty good, but matts can be very painful – they can be close to and pull on the skin. IMG_7339 IMG_7340

I took Puffy to Roscoe Village Animal Hospital, where I take all the feral cats in traps needing additional medical care.


Obviously, Puffy needed to be sedated for shaving. Since he was there, I asked them to update his vaccinations, and give him an exam. He was treated for fleas, but his ears looked clean. His teeth are surprisingly in good shape, so no dental was needed. And they gave him a full body shave.


Puffy, the Lion Cut King. IMG_7377

Doesn’t he look pleased? IMG_7368

He’s lucky I didn’t get him a dragon cut!


His vet bill was $393. If you’d like to make a donation to help cover his care, you can do so at the PayPal link at the top of this page.

I waited until the end of the day to return him back to my yard. Inexplicably, Funny Face started chasing after him when I returned him. Puffy doesn’t really hang out with the other colony cats here – he’s more solitary.

I finally saw him again here last night for dinner, and was really relieved to see that he was doing well, even if the other cats may be laughing at him. You can see the poof at the end of his lion tail. This time he appeared to be hanging out with Dash. Maybe they’re all making sure he is ok? IMG_7502




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Sick and Injured Avondale Cat Now Vetted and in Foster Home

Reese is one of the 17 cats and kittens trapped so far and from the Avondale TNR Project. Six kittens are in foster care, and most of the adults were TNR’d. There are many more cats outside there.


Reese was pretty relaxed outside. IMG_7311

When Reese came back from the clinic he slept in the trap the entire time. It was weird – we were concerned, but as soon as we woke him up, he would scarf down food. And then go back to sleep again. IMG_7301 Not only is that a friendly behavior, but it seemed excessive. Kim agreed to keep an eye on him for a few extra days in the trap.


If he wasn’t sleeping, he was just relaxing. IMG_7310 IMG_7333

Then Kim saw this on his back.


I brought Reese to a full service vet with another cat from my area I trapped that also needed medical care.


They determined that it was a skin plaque. Since it was intact and we weren’t sure yet if he was going back outside, it wasn’t a cause for concern.


But they found a bite wound on his left front leg, and he also had an URI, upper respiratory infection. He was treated with antibiotics. He also tested FIV+.


Reese is currently being fostered inside by Kim. Please let us know if you’d like to meet him! IMG_0564 IMG_7878

His medical bill is $268 so far. If you’d like to help, please donate through Paypal at [email protected]


Thanks for your support!



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TNR Outreach at the 606 Block Party

It takes a village to make TNR work. Cats In My Yard demonstrated how to TNR cats and distributed information on how to help outdoor stray animals at the 606 Block Party in Humboldt Park.


We set up in the 1st Ward Alderman’s booth. Alderman Moreno is a supporter of TNR and reaching out to the community. Thank you to the entire 1st Ward staff! A lot of people came to this event. IMG_1958


People were interested in learning about TNR, and Jim gave tutorials throughout the day. Alderman Moreno and his staff listened in. Maybe we can TNR together some day.


We talked about how to make Chicago a No Kill City, and how TNR plays an important role.
IMG_1963 Lots of people came by to learn more about trapping. What was apparent throughout the day was that every person could trap cats themselves. They just needed to know how to get traps and how the process works in Chicago.  IMG_7427

I mean seriously, children figured out the traps immediately. My niece Lydia wanted to show people how also. IMG_7421


It was pretty cool to see what drew people to our booth. We brought stuffed animal cats, including a Lil Bub cat, which were big hits with the children. They all wanted to pet them, including my nephew.  IMG_7423

Joann also came with us to talk about TNR. Her cat bag was a huge hit. IMG_7440

Older children really wanted to learn. They would “trap” the stuffed cats over and over again while their parents watched. We are hoping it inspired some people to help the cats in their neighborhood. IMG_7443

At the end of the day, we walked back home on the trail with the traps. I wonder if this is the first time that traps have been up there? IMG_7446

Thanks to all who came by to show their support!

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Thanks to Robin for Fostering the Avondale Kittens!

Robin F. agreed to foster and socialize all six of the kittens from the Avondale TNR Project that were trapped last week.


Joann spent Memorial Day picking up the kittens from the clinic and dropping them straight off to Robin. The photos are just now starting to trickle in. First up is this adorable orange boy. IMG_7401 IMG_7402

Robin is a pro – she already holds the esteemed title of the Fischer School of Feral Felines Socialization for us.


We can’t wait to see more! We are so grateful to Robin! So far 16 cats have been trapped here, and with her help, less than half of them will be returned back outside so far. TNR works!

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