Alderman Joe Moreno’s office referred me to a woman within our 1st Ward in Chicago who said there were cats spraying in her alley. Almost at the same time, another woman found me online and said there were kittens. She happened to live within a block of the first referral.
Joann and I are teaming up on TNR, and she went to the site to investigate several times. Joann talked to neighbors, and saw some cats going in and out of a few garages. Joann has done tons of rescue, but Trap-Neuter-Return is still fairly new to her. She is a natural, though. She took methodical notes, and started cataloguing the cats. She made flyers for us to pass out. She sent me photos like this.
One night, she set a trap, and immediately trapped this grey female she called None. It was great timing, because None turned out to be pregnant. Joann gave her extra recovery time in a crate, also hoping to see if perhaps None is friendly. She turned out to be feral and she was returned to the alley.
After canvassing the neighborhood even more, Joann found Chester, an elderly Polish man who sporadically feeds the cats from his window.
Chester has no idea how many cats he feeds. His story changes, but this makes sense as he had to trust us first. Also, it’s confusing to know how many cats there are. They take shelter in multiple garages. The cats go in and out of Chester’s garage and shed, which as far as I can tell are permanently locked, with stuff piled up to the ceiling. There are multiple holes for the cats to go in and out of. It would be impossible to see what’s going on in here.
We asked Chester not to feed, and started trapping a few days ago. Meanwhile, we talked to several more neighbors. The general reaction was polite indifference, but we were free to use people’s carports, and they told us where we could find the cats.
We had no idea what to expect, but so far we trapped ten cats total. The females were pregnant, there are older semi-feral kittens, and we even trapped someone’s in/out pet cat. Clearly this block, like so many other blocks, has a cat overpopulation problem. The only way to stop the breeding is through TNR, with community support. We cannot do this alone.
The first day of trapping we just trapped in the alley. None came by to check it out, but then was gone for the rest of the time. Smart girl. But she showed us one of the many cat entrances into the garage.
We trapped four cats in an hour. They were all clearly related.
Ash, male cat, was neutered without incident.
As was Aspen, another male cat.
Avery and Applejack are two older female kittens we think are siblings, and they are showing signs of friendliness. Currently they are at Joann’s house crated together, while she sees if she can socialize them for adoption.
Then we started trapping in Chester’s yard.
We started getting tabby cats, who looked more rough and feral.
Charlie’s ears are curled, most likely from frostbite. He needs a dental badly. But he is a good weight, and was so clearly feral in the trap. I don’t think he would do well with bringing him in for a dental now. He refused to eat, refused to pose, and refused to look at me the entire time.
Frankie is another male cat that is in a bit better shape.
Billie was pregnant, and weighs only 5.5 pounds. She was so frantic to get out of the trap that she had facial swelling on her nose from rubbing and hitting the bars. You can see how red her nose it.
Joey is a male cat, who looks a lot like he could be Billie’s brother.
And we trapped Keelie. Keelie is a long-haired black male cat that was already neutered. And microchipped. His owner came to the clinic to pick him up, and asked how he could prevent Keelie from getting trapped again.
Of course, if we were to accidentally trap Keelie again during this TNR project, we would let him out.
There’s at least one other pregnant cat that we know about, and most likely even more cats. We will keep trying to TNR there and reach out to the neighbors as best as we can.