Thursday, December 11, 2008

Heated Water Bowls

It's important to provide the outdoor cats with water year-round. The winter cold makes that tricky as temperatures drop below freezing. There are lots of good tips out there to keep the water from freezing, such as using bowls that are wide and deep, or insulated. Adding a pinch of sugar to the water slows the freezing as well, or you can add more water to wet food. We set up an electric heated water bowl and it's been working really well - the water is not frozen yet still cool to the touch. The cat tracks around it show that the cats seem to enjoy having such an easy source of hydration for them to use.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Feral Cat Shelters

Tree House's Uptown location has its own feral cat colony. With the cold weather already here, we've gotten a lot more calls on how to provide shelters for outdoor cats. We took photos to show you how we try to keep our outdoor kitties warm. The first photo shows Culpepper, our resident feral cat, impatiently waiting for the photo session to be over so she can go back inside and stay warm among the scratching posts shown in the second photo. The third photo shows the feeding stations and a smaller shelter at the top of the stairs. The fourth photo is of the straw insulating the little room under the stairs, with small shelters that the cats can curl up in. The door is normally closed and we cut small holes for the cats to have access to the area.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Josephine & the Pussycats

The cats we are socializing have come along at different paces. They certainly are enjoying the warmth and steady supply of food. This week was Josephine's week to take charge (she's the long-haired black kitty). She went into one of the boxes first, which made Pablo and Scarlet so curious that they immediately followed and completed this ensemble group.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Cheers for Eartipping

This morning I got an email from a local rescuer who was visiting a foster dog in Ukrainian Village. She fed two cats she just happened to see when she was leaving, who were already eartipped! Then, I went outside to feed my feral colony in Humboldt Park, and found a newcomer, who was also already eartipped. He's the tabby in the back, sitting behind Sugar, who spends almost all day in my yard now. The new tabby was actually a pretty healthy size with a shiny coat, let me pet him, and did not even finish the wet food I gave him. If he continues to come around I'll have to see how friendly he really is. I would love to find out about more people who are trapping out here, and I'm so happy to see progress being made.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

When TNR turns into TNA

Feral cat colony caretakers will often try to pull kittens from a colony to be socialized and adopted into forever homes. The window of time to easily socialize a kitten is brief, and sometimes the job is not fully done in time. Then socialization becomes a bit more time-consuming, but the results can be enormously gratifying and worth the effort in the long run. Our Feral Friends TNR Program is currently fostering a few of those cases. Isadora, Josephine, Scarlet and Pablo were brought into a foster home to be fully socialized after being TNR'ed as kittens by a caretaker, who along with her neighbor, would let them in and out of their apartments as their living situation outside was not safe. They are now almost 8 months old. As you can see from the photos below, they are rapidly getting used to the food, comfort and toys that a forever home would bring them. Their progress would be even faster if they could be separated more from each other, and exposed to more people. If you are interested in helping to socialize these cats and others like them, whether it would be to bring them temporarily into your home, or to visit them at another foster home, please contact us through this blog, email us at, or call us at 773-784-5488, ext. 234.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thankful for TNR

We hope everyone is enjoying their Thanksgiving holiday weekend! We are so thankful for all of the colony caretakers out there taking the time to feed and care for the outdoor cats. Here is a photo of Sugar Ray, a cat from one of our colonies, thankful for his holiday feast of leftover turkey and wet cat food next to his winter shelter filled with straw. Sugar Ray, initially named because of his fighting moves towards other colony cats, is slowly turning into Sugar as he has calmed down considerably since his TNR surgery in late summer. He has stopped fighting, and started to enjoy petting instead. He may turn out to be a TNA (trap, neuter, adopt) candidate, but only time will tell.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Honeypot is ready for her close-up

Honeypot is an FIV+ female feline admitted to Tree House from the King TNR Project over the summer. FIV, or feline immunodeficiency virus, is very difficult to transmit, and can be managed with a proper diet and veterinary care. Many FIV+ cats can live long, healthy lives. Honeypot's star potential was noticed right away with her Marilyn Monroe-like "mole." We also noticed how friendly Honeypot was in the trap before and after surgery. We knew she couldn't stay on the streets, and would thrive in a forever home. She has been residing in the FIV+ Room on Tree House's top floor in the Uptown location. Please contact us if you are interested in visiting Honeypot or her other FIV+ friends.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Volunteers needed for Hanover Park TNR project

We are looking for volunteers who are interested in helping with a TNR project in Hanover Park this Friday evening. The project involves trapping additional cats at a registered colony caretaker's yard, along with additional colonies located within the area, including behind a Menard's store. The following morning, the cats will all be TNR'ed at PAWS Chicago's Lurie Family Spay and Neuter Clinic, 3516 W. 26th Street, in Chicago. We especially need help in transporting these cats to and from Hanover Park and the clinic, but we welcome any volunteers, including those who want to learn more about TNR. Please email us at, or call us 773-784-5488, ext. 234, if you are interested in this project.

Thanks for coming to the Caretaker Fest!

Our Feral Friends TNR Program hosted its first Feral Caretaker Fest this November. The event was a huge success, even with the cold! Thanks again to the Anti-Cruelty Society for providing the yummy pizza and refreshments. Feral cat colony caretakers came together to meet us and each other. We provided free and low-cost materials to make feral cat shelters for the cold winter months, including Rubbermaid bins, heated water bowls, styrofoam sheets, and bales of straw. We have left over materials for anyone who may be interested in purchasing more for their colonies. The photo to the right is of Bobcat and Princess, two cats from one of our own colonies that have always enjoyed the shelter bins, even by relaxing on top of them.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Upcoming Colony Caretaker Fest

National Feral Cat Day is on October 16th. Tree House is celebrating by hosting a Colony Caretaker Fest around that time. National Feral Cat Day raises awareness for feral cats and recognizes how the TNR community is trying to help them. We'll be selling straw for a nominal fee for feral cat shelters, and feature ideas on building shelters for the winter. We'll also have sample caretaker applications and other feral cat information. Stay tuned for more details!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Trapping Strategies - Let's Learn about Drop Traps

Regular humane metal box-style traps work in most situations, particularly when used with the proper planning and strategies. If you need tips on using the standard box-style traps more effectively for certain cats, email and we can brainstorm with you. Regular box-style traps are available for rent from both Tree House Humane Society and Paws Chicago.

Drop Traps:
A drop trap is a special kind of humane trap. Right now our drop trap is on loan to someone. Ours looks similar to the one in the video, and is non-folding. It was graciously built for us recently by Brian. Thank you Brian! Below the video are links to instructions in case you want to build your own. If you have one that you can loan out to others, please let us know. Watch a special video on a drop trap here.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Three Friendly Cats Need Help
Watch the video!

If you can help please email
UPDATE: As of a few hours ago, Tree House Humane Society will admit ALL THREE CATS! Watch the original video, made before we knew who would take them, to see these famous sweeties that will be ready for adoption soon! We will post updates on them here so stay tuned!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

King Trapping Sunday June 8th a Sucess
and we beat the rain!

TEN cats! We trapped ten cats from four different locations. We labeled the traps and took notes very carefully so the ones we return after their surgery and recovery will go right back to their respective outdoor territories. As of this writing they have all eaten, and now are resting before their trip to the clinic early tomorrow morning.

THREE of them are friendly! This took us a little by surprise to get so many at once. It is a close tie for who is the friendliest, but the two most friendly even in the trap a few hours after trapping are a calico we named Butterscotch and a white and black cat we named Honey Pot. Both of them nudged up against the chopstick we were using to pet them through the trap, and Honey Pot was so at ease around us she even started a cat nap as we were looking at her. Butterscotch's calico sister was also trapped and we named her "Buttercup." She could be just as friendly, when she hasn't been trapped a few hours previously. We'll check her again in the morning.

So we need foster home volunteers! This can be relatively short term, but you would need to come forward fast, as we need to know or we may have to release one of the friendly ones after the surgery and recovery and we would rather not do that. We are looking to place into foster homes Butterscotch, Buttercup (possibly with her fellow calico and sister Butterscotch), Honey Pot, and Amber. Why would we need foster homes? It is not easy to place a cat into a no-kill shelter, as we all know. Particularly at this time of year no-kill shelters are very full. This is the whole reason TNR and spay and neuter is so critical. Even a TNR project led by a shelter faces the same shelter capacity issue. We will do admission requests for these cats at Tree House but also at other no-kill shelters as necessary. We may adopt out directly instead of through a shelter. We will do this only if we have to, as we cannot offer the same lifetime return guarantee if we do it that way.

Honey Pot was living in a parking lot, and in the outdoors Honey Pot was a little swatty with the other cats. She may mellow out in relation to other cats after her spay and recovery, with a stable food source and the indoor environment she definitely once had. Butterscotch and Buttercup apparently are part of a group of four cats whose owner passed away and the people just put the cats out. A resident has let them take up residence in her back yard and provided food and outdoor shelter. We feel all of the four could go into separate foster homes, or some combinations may be possible.

Also trapped that will be released after surgery, vaccination, and recovery are Jasmine, Yasmine, Spot, Amber, Earl, Shadow, and Blue-Eye.

Thank you to everyone who has donated so far! We will be spending some of that money already tomorrow Monday morning at the clinic. You are making a big difference in the life of one cat, and preventing a lot of senseless suffering and euthanasia that comes from endless breeding. If you want, keep donating! Hopefully more TNR volunteers will step forward, whether or not they have prior experience, and we will already have the money to get them started!

Stay tuned for photos in the next few days! Thanks to Vanessa, Ms. King, Curtis and Meghan for participating today with myself, Janet. A special thank you to Vanessa who is making an enormous contribution in offering recovery space and transport assistance. On Thursday Vanessa and I will trap again. If you 'd like to help trap, drive, or foster please let us know.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

King TNR Project
Trap Rehearsal a huge success!

Huge is definitely the word - for the number of cats we saw this morning! We saw 22 cats this morning in six different nearby locations. Most did go and eat all the way in the back of the trap, which helps guarantee trapping on our King trapping days, tomorrow Sunday 6/8/08 and Thursday 6/12/08. Even one male we trapped, neutered, and released in February 2008 went into the trap and had himself a big meal today. He didn't have to though. We would have fed him after the rehearsal. Here is a photo of the trap rehearsal we did back in February. The only difference between that one and today is about 70 degrees in temperature! Last February it was freezing and today was much more pleasant, but pretty hot and humid.

We had a photographer with us for a while from a major Chicago newspaper because they will be doing a 150 word article soon which will include some info on this trapping!

Of the 22 cats that we saw today, only four were eartipped and spayed/neutered. They were the ones we did in February 2008. They are all doing very well, which just goes to show that a TNR'd cat will forgive and forget as long as you keep feeding. The fifth we spayed in February 2008 has her own famous happy story. Watch for the post about Laila, formerly SissyBoots, who we will feature on this blog.

So stay tuned for more trapping news, and wish us luck tomorrow!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Nick A. TNR Project
on Chicago's Northwest Side

The Nick A. TNR Project is named after one of the caretakers of these cats, a 70 year old gentleman named Nick. We use A. for his last name to protect his privacy and therefore keep confidential the location of these cats. The colony is on the Northwest Side of Chicago in the back yard of the building where Nick lives. As we said, this project is being led and executed by two fantastic volunteers, Curtis and Meghan.

Here's an update from Curtis. "Two weeks into the Nick A. TNR Project on the Northwest Side of Chicago, we are already making progress and have strong community support. We need your help with trapping, short term foster homes for kittens 6-12 weeks old and we need a Polish speaker to reach out to feeders." They have trapped, spayed/neutered, and released 2 cats already and look forward to doing three more on June 9th!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Two New TNR Volunteers
Curtis and Meghan
Leading the Nick A. TNR Project

We hit the volunteer jackpot when Susan Robinson, the Community Outreach Director from PAWS Chicago referred to us two people who wanted to help us do TNR! Curtis and Meghan had attended one of the community informational meetings on TNR and not only did they want to learn more by doing their first project, they volunteered to lead and coordinate the project as well! We have given them some training and loaned them traps, and they've been on a roll ever since! Their project is the Nick A. TNR project, located on the Northwest Side of Chicago. Stay tuned for updates and photos! You too could step up and do what Curtis and Meghan did! We can find just the right size experience for you, and of course provide training.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Hanover Park, IL passes feral cat management/TNR ordinance

On June 5, 2008 the village board of Hanover Park, IL passed a feral cat management ordinance which we feel will be a step forward for feral cats and their caretakers. This ordinance is very similar to the Cook County feral cat management ordinance that was passed and went into effect late 2007. The ordinance will outline and sanction proper feral colony management, including TNR. As noted in a recent news article, some love it and some hate it. We hope it will help cat lovers and their neighbors to live with more peace and more obvious guidelines about responsible feral cat management through TNR.

Village of Hanover Park
2121 West Lake Street
Hanover Park, IL 60133

PHONE: (630) 372-4200
FAX: (630) 372-4215

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Meet the cats of the King TNR Project

The King TNR Project is the TNR project for which we are currently fundraising.  This project is named in honor of the woman who first brought these cats to our attention.  She faithfully fed them throughout the freezing winter of 2007-2008, and continues to feed them every morning.  They live in two alleys and one parking lot, on the south east side of Chicago.  We teamed up with Ms. King in February 2008 to trap, neuter, and return four of the cats, and the fifth cat turned out to be friendly so she was spayed, admitted to Tree House, and adopted into a loving home.  Ms. King currently does not have the time or resources to continue the TNR project, so we are volunteering to do the work to get the job completed, with her thanks and blessing.  Here in the photo are two cats we still need to get spayed/neutered and vaccinated.  The photo was taken in February 2008.  There are about TWENTY cats that still need to be spayed/neutered and vaccinated in this King TNR Project.  This project cannot happen without donations.  We are hoping to get started in early May and complete by end of May so donate now.