Sunday, January 12, 2014

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Cats are Stealth Rat-Killers CATS AT WORK

I am the Community Cats Coordinator at Tree House Humane Society in Chicago. We specialize in feral cat relocations for outdoor cats who are at risk from poisonings, BB gun shootings, abandoned house demolitions (where the cats tend to live), indoor and outdoor cat hoarding situations, and feeders who have to move and can't take the outdoor cats they feed with them. We trap the cats and place them in x-large acclimation crates in their new environment for 3-4 weeks to get them accustomed to their new home. Dumping them somewhere without acclimation is inhumane as it causes the cats to become confused and they will attempt to find their way back to their original home and food source and that is dangerous. 

To secure their new homes we have a program called Cats at Work, where people actually request feral cats for their community gardens, personal yards, factories, stables, farms, barns and businesses, and in the case of the 47th Ward of Chicago, alleys! (see my previous posts about Cats at Work). Folks requesting feral cats for their yards and businesses must fill out applications, sign contracts, follow the protocol of the acclimation, and pay for the relocation of the cats.

In talking with these educated folks who understand that cats are the "green" and humane solution to their rat, mouse, chipmunk, rabbit and insect problems, they often ask, "if I feed the cats twice a day will they still hunt?" And the answer is OH YES THEY WILL. I also often have this conversation when I run into skeptical neighbors while I am trapping cats in alleys who are initially angry that I am planning returning the cats to the alley. 

My colony cats have lived with me for years in the yard, They are well-fed, spoiled cats who live in a heated, insulated, bi-level outdoor condo, but this is what we see all year:

And here are 2 of the 3 cats in my colony, lounging around like lazy-butts after their night of rat-killing. 

Outdoor cats kill neighborhood rats even if they are stuffed with store-bought cat food. It's their nature, their instinct, and their main hobby in life. They find the rat nests, stand over the hole, and eat the babies, thereby reducing the rat population. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Interesting Facts About Cats

I Found a Litter of Kittens! What Do I Do?

HERE is a great article from Animal Alliance NYC about what to do if you find a litter of kittens. Below are pictures of a very young litter I rescued last week:

You CANNOT feed kittens cow's milk and do not try to give them water!! It will give them diarrhea and dehydrate them. You need kitten replacement milk and a bottle set from PetSmart. They eat tiny amounts of food so do not squeeze too much food in their little mouths. You also have to take a cotton ball and gently swirl it over their little behinds to stimulate them to pee and poo, something their mother usually does for them. They need to be on a heating pad and kept very warm. As soon as you can, call your local vet offices and animal rescue groups to see if an experienced bottle feeder is available to foster the kittens. In the meantime, please click the link above to see how it's done. 

You also must bathe them in warm water, as they are too young to groom themselves. Here is my husband bathing them in our bathroom sink:

Thursday, February 28, 2013

55 Cats Trapped for World Spay Day!

Holy Hairballs! Tree House Humane Society volunteers and staff trapped 55 feral cats for World Spay Day! Here are some of them in the Bucktown clinic waiting to be snipped, tipped, chipped and returned to their respective colonies. But we did find some "friendlies" (cats who live outside but who are super friendly to humans) and those will be admitted onto the Tree House adoption floor! This always makes everyone's day when we get those.  

The covers on the traps keep the kitties calm and feeling safe. Please contact me if you'd like to know more about Trap-Neuter-Return, it's easier than you think! And you can make such a difference in your neighborhood. These "community cats" need YOUR help!!! 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

How is the Trap-Neuter-Return Program Working in Chicago?

I'd like to share this link from another trap-neuter-return "Catactivist" I know who posted some incredible news yesterday on her blog, along with some pictures of "TNR" in action and a one-minute video explaining why we TNR:


Saturday, December 15, 2012

What is a "Cat Colony?"

Here are a few pictures of different "managed colonies" I help care for in my neighborhood. Tree House Humane Society volunteers help each other feed and shelter feral cats who have been "TNRed" (trap-neuter-return). Tree House assists us with free dry food (and wet food when they have it), shelters, and other supplies and we in turn provide Tree House with annual reports of who is in the colonies and their status (health, description, spay/neuter status, if any have been homed or left etc). Tree House volunteers were also responsible for what I like to call "trapping gangs", groups of people who come out together and trap large numbers of cats at one time. 

This is a pretty kitty who lives in an abandoned house. She pokes her head out when we arrive but won't come out to eat until we leave!!

You can see the hole here where she pokes her head out. The boxes are feral cat shelters stuffed with straw. This is in the back basement area - outside. 

Here are a bunch of kitties enjoying breakfast in an alley. There is actually a small area between two garages on the right that is covered with a tarp where we feed them in bad weather, with 2 cat shelters inside.

This is a large wooden shelter a neighbor built, that Tree House volunteers spent hours sanitizing and rehabbing last month. It is completely insulated with foam board insulation, it has a raised floor, and is stuffed to the gills with straw, which repels moisture and is snug and warm for the kitties. We cover the food in bad weather. 

Volunteers took time to talk to neighbors to make sure they were all ok with us feeding cats on their properties, and letting them know the cats were fixed. It also helps to post a note in the feeding/shelter areas to inform neighbors that the areas are being maintained by shelter volunteers. Tree House has many great examples on their website of letters for neighbors to hand out or post. We make sure to take our cat can garbage with us and keep the areas clean and neat.