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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Hail Caesar

This is Caesar.

Hey ladies, check out my eartip.

He’s from a colony of outdoor feral cats that a woman has been feeding in Humboldt Park for a decade. She used to live there, and then moved out of the neighborhood, but travels back a few times a week to feed. She calls shelters periodically to take the kittens and friendly cats. She called enough times that Tree House Humane Society realized that she was feeding without doing TNR, which would expedite breeding even more. The problem is being solved now. Over 15 cats have been TNR’ed now from that colony. This woman is no longer a feeder – she is now a caretaker of a cat colony managed properly through TNR.

Caesar is so friendly that when I came to pick him up at the clinic, I was able to drop him into a carrier immediately. I have terrible technique handling cats – if they don’t want to go into a carrier or a room or wherever, I don’t know how to make them. There are scruffing techniques, etc, but I usually leave that to other people.

Caesar is also FIV+. This is not surprising as he is an outdoor tom cat who fights for food and mates. FIV, feline immunodeficiency virus, can be transmitted from cat to cat through deep bite wounds, and fighting cats like to bite each other on their haunches. FIV is not a death sentence. FIV+ cats can live a long life, especially if they are well-cared for.

Caesar is now admitted to PAWS Chicago, which has an FIV+ feline adoption room. If you want to learn more on how to adopt out cats like Caesar, check out PAWS’ adoption page. The cats that are FIV+ or have other special needs are marked with a red heart. Chicago is lucky to have an organization like PAWS to adopt out these cats.

Carlin Reed says:

Absolutely. Percy is FIV+ and has been with us for over 13 years now.

Vanessa says:

Percy is a great cat!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

How TNR Started for Me

I first learned about Trap Neuter Return, or TNR, in 2004 because a cat that looked pretty sick showed up in my yard and would not let me near it. I went online and found out about TNR and how it worked from Alley Cat Allies, a national organization that advocates for the humane treatment of outdoor feral cats. From there I learned about local resources to start conducting TNR from my yard. At the time it looked like PAWS Chicago was my best option, so I went down to rent humane Tru-Catch traps to catch this sick cat. I ended up trapping a dozen cats over a three-month period before I trapped her. The experience opened my eyes to how many cats were in my area. I took each cat to PAWS Chicago’s Lurie Spay/Neuter Clinic to be fixed and vaccinated. Not many people were using their clinic yet for TNR back then, but the TNR movement has grown a lot ever since.

The other day I looked at PAWS Chicago’s TNR Animal Advocacy page and saw they used one of my Flickr page photos to promote TNR! I had no idea they used it and it made my day. The photo is the one further down the page showing an eartipped cat recovering in a trap.

This is Boo from the back during her recovery. She seemed to like the puppy pads I put in there for comfort as I did not release her for over 48 hours. I would have liked to recover her even longer considering her surgery and the fact that she pulled out a nail when she was first trapped, but she was ready to go.

This cat’s name is Boo, so named because one day while I was gardening in my yard, I turned to see her looking at me from inside the open back door. She startled me, and I startled her right back by setting up a trap and trapping her that very same night. The clinic told me she was only six months old and already pregnant, but they were able to terminate her pregnancy successfully and she recovered nicely. Boo is tiny so I tried to recover her a little bit longer after her surgery. She is feral but she probably went into my basement to case out a place to have her kittens. I still see her from time to time in my neighborhood.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

RIP Sweet Stacy

A young man named Atticus was worried about a TNR’d colony cat on his block. The cat was acting sick and lethargic, so Atticus posted this heartbreaking message on Everyblock, asking for help:

“so there’s a feral cat, a sweet old man, who lives on my block. i think a neighbor across the street usually feeds the colony, because i see them hanging on his porch a lot.

the old man cat seems like he’s really sick. his nose is all crusted and he’s on my back porch right now, seeming like he has a bit of trouble moving. he’s just hunched there, breathing heavily.
i know not to touch him, because he’s definitely an ear-tipped feral. i tried to make him comfy, brought him a little bit of food. he sat up when i got near him, but did not run, which is one of the ways i know he is not doing well, because he used to run when i got within 30 ft orso of him.

i guess my question is, am i caring too much for what is basically a wild animal? he surely won’t even live the month without medical attention, but he is ‘no ones’ cat, just there to keep the rat population down.. i’m not posting to say, “dang i don’t want this guy to die on *my* porch!” as much as i am saying, “is there a way we can do something for him?”

i don’t have the money to pay for medical attention for him, and i’m not sure if it’s even a cause worth fighting for because he might just be old as hell and withering with age.

thanks, neighbors. i’m sorry to post something so bummerific, i just love this old cat.”


Joann and Kim brought traps to Atticus. Atticus and his girlfriend, Katie, watched the traps day and night. This sick cat would come and go, and sat by the trap for a few days.


In the meantime, they trapped another black cat. They named her Ditto, and she received her TNR treatment at the Anti-Cruelty Society’s clinic.


Finally, after a week of setting traps, the sick cat went in. img_9078 img_9091

We went to our friend, Dr. James Harris, at Elmhurst Animal Care Center.  We found out there that this sweet “old man cat” was actually a female. She was a senior cat, sick with upper respiratory infection – URI, underweight, had only a few teeth left, and had some pretty extensive mats on her back. They also found her microchip from her TNR, which was traced to PAWS’ clinic. img_9077 The Elmhurst clinic sedated her, did her bloodwork and FIV/FeLV test, and gave her an antibiotic injection of Convenia for her URI. They carefully clipped off her mats, but left the fur intact underneath. Afterwards I set her up in my feral cat recovery lounge. Her total vet bill was $121. If you’d like to make a donation towards her care, you can do so through the Paypal donation link at the top of this page, or directly through paypal.com with [email protected] img_9159

In the meantime, PAWS let us know that she was TNR’d in 2010 on the same block we trapped her. Her name was Stacy. The person who TNR’d her has since moved from the block. She was the only cat she ever TNR’d because Stacy kept having litters of kittens. But Stacy had other feeders caring for her since then, including Atticus, and his neighbor across the street.


The next day Dr. Harris informed us that she tested negative for FIV/FeLV, but her bloodwork results were dismal. She would need ongoing daily medication and care for lymphoma, most likely. This was just not possible in her situation and Stacy was already very sick. She was acting very lethargic, barely moving in the dog crate, yet very scared and stressed at being confined. At the same time, if we put her back outside, she was not in a situation where she stayed in a single place and could take daily medicine and daily care. Winter was coming and the cold would eventually kill her. After much discussion between all of us, Jenny N. at PAWS offered to take her to their clinic and euthanize her.


RIP, Sweet Stacy. You were surrounded by love at the end of your life, and brought a lot of people together who tried to help you the best way we could. We are so grateful for the compassion of Atticus and Katie for caring for her, for reaching out to the local Everyblock community, and to the vet care from Elmhurst and PAWS. Every animal deserves a dignified and humane death when they are suffering, and this is why we provide that care as best as we can to the colony cats.






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

RIP Gringa, Another Dead Cat Found in Avondale

Gringa, a TNR’d colony cat, was found dead outside Saturday by the Avondale alley we are trapping in.


Gringa was a beautiful cat already TNR’d by Erica from PAWS before we started this project. Gringa was being fed regularly by George, a man who drives from somewhere else to feed in this alley twice a day.


Joann got to know Gringa during last week when she was trying to trap intact cats there with a drop trap. IMG_0149

Gringa had a lot of fun playing with the string. FullSizeRender-6 copy

In true small world fashion, although we didn’t know it at the time, our friend Maribeth B. found Gringa’s body on Saturday, talked to neighbors, and placed her in a dumpster because she didn’t know what else to do. Maribeth lives close to this project and we’ve been in touch throughout.


The following photos may be upsetting to some people.



unnamed IMG_7730

Before we knew that happened, though, another neighbor called Joann about Gringa. Joann and Kim went to retrieve the body. This is the second dead cat found in this area in the past week. Joann saw the blood left behind where Gringa was on the parkway. IMG_7731

Joann and Kim took Gringa to MedVet Chicago, just like Ivan. The vet determined this time that Gringa was definitely hit and killed by a car. There were tire tread marks on her body.


The vet was pretty shook up himself. He said that in the past three days, he has seen six cats hit by cars, most of them were people’s pets. We don’t know of their outcomes. But he said that in 35 years of practice as a vet, this past week has been the hardest on him. I implore everyone to keep their pet cats inside. This is not just “weird coincidences” happening at this colony. This is happening everywhere. Of course, colony cats need to remain outside because they are feral. Being hit by a car is one of the many dangers they face, but like other wild animals, a lot of them know to fear and avoid cars.


MedVet was able to dispose of her body properly and without charge. We are so grateful for their help.


Later that day we talked to Maribeth, and figured out that Gringa was the cat she found earlier. We are grateful that neighbors are trying to watch out for these cats.


RIP, Gringa.







Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *