Feral Fixers wishes you all a safe and healthy Thanksgiving! No matter how you will celebrate, do your best to be positive and think about all the wonderful things you have enabled us to do this year. As of this writing we have neutered 705 cats, increasing their health and longevity for years to come. We have also found homes for 287 cats this year alone! Thank you all for your continued support of Feral Fixers!
One More Trip
On 11/18 we made another trip to ADOPT with 10 friendlies. There were 4 females and 6 males, bringing our November total to 45 cats, our total for the year to 715 and our to-date total is 12,400! These kitties will be showing up on our Facebook and Petfinder soon.
Covid 19 Impact
We were scheduled to make another trip to ADOPT on 11/20. On 11/19 one of their clinic staff tested positive and we had to cancel that trip. We don't know when they will be able to do surgeries for us again – any positive test extends the quarantine period, they are staying in touch. In the meantime, DCAS is going to try to squeeze in a handful of surgeries a week – really, they will try to do 4 a week since the mobile unit does not operate well in the cold and they are already so busy and on a government building level lockdown themselves. All other clinics are slammed as no one really caught up this year with s/n surgeries. Looks like we are ending the year as we began, cats on hand and waiting for slots. As we are waiting, a few of the kittens that we had no hopes of taming have done a 360 and decided to be friendly after all, this is an interesting time! I've had the opportunity to talk caretakers thru bringing cats indoors themselves, how to make the s/n appointments and what they should ask for. We may end up with a more educated public as a result of the restrictions we're under!
Thanksgiving brings all those shopping and fundraising "Days" – Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and of course, Giving Tuesday. To support Feral Fixers we need to join in the chaos but hope to find entertaining ways for you to participate! Keep us in mind as you peruse the Black Friday ads – everyday stuff we use may be on sale! When you shop Small Business Saturday, mention to the owner that you support Feral Fixers – new relationships start in small ways. On Cyber Monday, use AmazonSmile, check out our Wish List and shop BF specials which will result in donations to Feral Fixers. Black Cat Giving Tuesday kicks off on 12/1 and we have an ambitious goal to match $6,000 to fund spay/neuters, veterinary care, basic operations which support the cats for the coming year. Please share all of these "Days" and the ways your friends and families will help us into 2021.
Calls for relocation of cats has gone up but luckily, calls to receive cats that need to be relocated have increased as well. Our Working Cats come from situations where they are in danger, no longer have support, or are making trouble in the area they are in (usually in the neighbor's opinion 😊). Our ability to relocate is dependent on people seeking to employ our Working Cats so it can be a bit of a juggling act. Story of a recent case: Woman brings a feral cat she had trapped to DCAS, demanding that it be euthanized. Chipped to Feral Fixers, we were contacted. We are always notified when a cat with our chip comes in. A healthy five year old, DCAS was not willing to euthanize but clearly he could not go back where he had been living as this resident would trap him again and who knows what she would do then. His original caretaker had moved two years ago but clearly the other residents were caring for him well (weighs over 10lbs). While I could not speak to the person who was said to be feeding him the most, another neighbor said they fed him every time they saw him and had no problem with him. He was updated on his vaccinations, received treatment and antibiotic for an ear wound and then I held him awaiting a relocation site. Shanty complained the whole time as he would rather be out and about, but was very comfortable. He was relocated to Our Sustainable Journey and is doing great! We DO NOT advocate interacting with the cats we relocate but sometimes those animal friendly kids just go ahead. While he is not an indoor cat, he clearly likes people and is comfortable with them and this will be a great place for him to live! Please share our Working Cats info to anyone who needs their services – offices, warehouses, farms, stables, rural backyards, so many situations the cats fit so well!
We've had a couple of locations that we simply could not leave a single unneutered cat that would start a whole new group for the Spring, so despite trying to shut down feral trapping, there were a few stragglers. There is something weird about this 2020 year, lots of kittens born late in the year. Don't know if people were feeding more, later, as they did not go back to school or travel or whatever but there was a disruption in the cat's lives too, resulting in more births! Looks like the disruption will continue, making TNR all that more interesting? Whittling away getting our adoptable kittens neutered so you will see them getting posted as they go thru surgery and are ready to find their permanent homes. We still have about 40 kittens to be done – end date is like a mirage! In October we did another 49 cats, monthly total 157, so far in November we have done 35 cats, bringing our total to 705 for the year and 12,390 since our beginning in 2007.
Night before surgery 10/28, multiple layers to keep the cats warm overnight. Blanket, electric blanket, quilts and some fleece for good measure!
11 cats on 11/6 - on their way to ADOPT!
We made our "last" trip for ferals count! 34 ferals and one friendly!
Yet more has been done at the building – the railing is in! The distance to the first bar from the cement will allow us to slip traps in from the side and not have to carry all of them up the ramp. Gotta think ahead! It is amazing how much concrete costs! We are all getting older and we really needed this ramp for the future. Expensive. The sum total was $27,000. If you are not already in your 60's, you might think this was an extreme extravagance. Trust me, it was not. It will provide much easier building access for bulky items, including traps and put less wear and tear on our volunteers which is invaluable. We budgeted costs pretty accurately, and we started out with a pretty hearty bank balance but you can't spend it and still have it, so when we have our next Fund for the Future fundraiser, please keep in mind our efforts to make the building accessible and functional from the get-go. It is even more expensive to make an improvement at a later date. This is one cool ramp, tho, isn't it? This year we have processed 700 cats so far, imagine having to lug traps and carriers, food and litter up steps and thru a small doorway for that many cats – these changes were an absolute necessity! Thank you so much for your help in making this a reality! Can't wait to be able to allow people in freely – everybody stay healthy! We will be working on something at the building as soon as we can.
Every bit helps! We received our quarterly AmazonSmile donation for over $350! That means that donors using AmazonSmile spent over $70,000 and we received .5% of that amount and it didn't cost you anything more! We've had an increase in monthly donors which helps us budget our expenses more accurately and quite a few matching donations from employers – check with your employer and see if your donation to Feral Fixers can be matched! Our Black Cat Giving Tuesday Fundraiser will start on December 1st – we currently have $6,000 to be matched – thank you to everyone who stepped up and pledged for this! The Giving Grid will run from 12/1 to 12/31 with our goal of matching the $6,000. These funds are for spay/neuter and all the different expenses we encounter in running Feral Fixer that support the ferals of DuPage County and bordering communities (ferals can't read maps), giving special emphasis to all the black cats we have neutered. Look for an update on the fundraiser soon! Looks like we will not be able to hold Frosty Claws in January – gathering sizes, pandemic and all. Not all our supporters are into the "on-line" world. We will be mailing an expanded version of our Holiday newsletter with a fun alternative to Frosty Claws at least for 2021. Would much rather see everyone in person, share stories, etc. Keep an eye on your mailbox.
Donated by a kind crafter - toys, throws and cups - thank you!
Have a great Thanksgiving!
Doing Too Much!
Written by Tammy McAuley
93 Cats 6 Trips 10 Days
Can't turn down surgery slots when we still have cats to do. I called this my Hell week and then still added another day. Still working too hard and making multiple trips. Hoping so hard that we will see a resulting difference in the Spring. Despite there being so many cats still out there – it snowed today! We don't want cats with lowered immune systems and bare bellies out in below 30 degree weather. We still have at least 40 kittens on hand to be neutered, the litters were very late this year for some reason, so you will still see us neutering more but we have to stop the adults! Last feral trip is October 29th. We neutered another 93 cats in October for a total of 108 so far, total for the year is 621 and 12,306 since our start in 2007. We're doing the best we can!
On 10/15 we had cats that had returned from s/n, ones awaiting 10/16 trip and kittens! All covered and toasty!
On 10/19 we sent 26 cats to DuPage County Animal Services (DCAS).
On 10/21 we sent 4 ferals and17 friendlies - some will be posted for Adoption soon!
Feral Cat Day Event & As If They Were Our Own
NFC Day went very well despite the 50+ mph winds and some rain at the outset. The donors really seemed to enjoy seeing us, dropping off so many donations of food and litter and towels, etc. and buying shirts and bake sale items. Donors also took this opportunity to shop on AmazonSmile, etc and have items shipped directly to us. It was great to see everyone who stopped by! We will do this again! Look for a repeat in the Spring! Our online fundraiser, "As If They Were Our Own" matched our goal of $3,500 and went beyond! This is a huge help when our monthly bill for "other" health care in addition to s/n can average $3,000. Additional vaccinations, dental care, surgeries, you name it. Our spokescat, Valentino, was adopted by his foster, she spent so much time with him and bonded with him so closely, she could not let him go! The picture to the right is Valentino after he's all recovered! Thank you to everyone who donated to help him and SO many others that we assist!
Building – More progress!
Ramp poured! Need to fill in the excavation around the concrete yet and railing to be installed. Most of the sinks and laundry appliances are installed. We re-used the doors already in the building but cut windows in them so we can see what is going on in the cat rooms before we open the door! All of the furniture was left behind by previous tenants, again re-using everything we can. We are planning every step. We had to select everything going into the building in advance to make sure we would place doors correctly, water and gas hookups, etc. With all of our planning, we are still getting very close to our budgeted amounts so donations are of huge importance. One donor, when told about our wonderful work sink, wrote a check immediately for the full cost of it. Our clothes washers were donated by another generous donor as soon as she knew we had closed on the building. If you see something that you would like to help us with, please let us know! We couldn't do this without your donations, please continue to support this huge change for Feral Fixers!
This is our custom-made sink. With this we will be able to wash any trap and a lot of cages without even having to break them down - saving so much time and effort! One donor, upon learning of our plan, asked how much it cost and wrote a check immediately for the whole thing - our donors are great!
Slow Blinking Can Make The Difference
Don't know about you, but with mask wearing, more communication needs to be done with our eyes. I find myself slow blinking at humans these days! Here's some research being done on cats.
Written by Tammy McAuley
DuPage Giving Days
For the last two years Feral Fixers has participated in the DuPage Human Race. In its history, weather has played a huge part in the success of the event. Due to this, Giving DuPage decided to have a one-day virtual event. With the arrival of the pandemic and the huge impact on the non-profit community, it is now a month long, May 14th is the last day. You can donate or become a Fundraising Champion and raise funds yourself for Feral Fixers! We have a matching donor for $2,400! Giving Days will replace the funds we normally receive for the Human Race and counteract the cancellation of our Kitten Shower, so we are looking forward to many supporters participating! Funds will go to our general account and used to support the medical needs of the cats we help "As If They Were Our Own." Please go to the GivingDuPageDays website and search for Feral Fixers (the direct link to our fundraising page is here.). You can set up your Fundraising Champion page now and donations can be made starting Tuesday, April 14th. Be creative, still go for a run or walk – weather permitting – and support Feral Fixers!
S/N Still Shut Down
While we cannot hold spay days yet, cats continue to come our way. On March 25th, one of our volunteers picked up a cat that was supposed to be friendly – the people had even put a collar on him and a leash before they picked him up and put him in a carrier for our volunteer. Gets to my garage – totally different behavior, hissing on the sight of me. That happens sometimes. He had an ear tip but a really bad eye – looked mushy. Left on its own it might have just dried up but he looked to be in pain. Cases like this are very difficult, ferals cannot be treated the way friendlies can – no topical meds, limited oral meds, it can be a battle. Don't take this the wrong way but unfortunately he had nothing else wrong with him! It was a real 50-50 situation. I opted for eye removal, with the hope we would have a supportive relocation site available for when he healed. Petey refused to eat on his own, we finally negotiated that I would hold his cone with my left hand while syringing a gruel of baby food and fine pate into him, while he growled and chomped on the syringe. After a few days he would eat small amounts from the saucer overnight. Day 8, there was an abscess behind the incision and back he went for a re-do. Cultured the material and Bayril was the right antibiotic. Liquid med is causing an amazing amount of drool so going back to the vet for tablets that can be crushed and mixed with a small amount of food and syringed. Wish me luck! He is not grateful in the slightest! We cannot give all the cats we encounter this level of care but I am trying with Petey – one of the cats we treat "As If They Were Our Own."
Despite the shut-down, we are able to do some work on the building. IT wiring will happen very soon and we are fine-tuning the layout and changes. We will be moving some doors and putting in new ones, taking out a wall, removing the vault – we have no idea why the building had a vault with an enormous, heavy door – like a bank! We will be changing the types of doors on the rooms so that we will be able to see what the cats are doing before we step in, lots of changes! Once we get a permit, double doors will be installed on the back of the building, providing easier access for cats in traps, etc. This will entail a ramp going up to the doors from the parking lot.
There's always something new! We thought it was great when they came up with the pole microchip scanner but the round scanning end does have its issues. Now, with this model, a cat could be scanned in almost any situation and claims to be reliable two inches away from the chip. We get feral cats in carriers, traps, crates, and using the round scanner can have its risks. Looks like this could be threaded into any container. If you are looking to donate equipment, while not an emergency need, it would make our lives just that bit easier!
Food Donation Program Volunteers Needed
We receive food donations from Rescue Pack, paying only the shipping costs. The canned and dry food is delivered to a trucking company in Carol Stream. We also can receive litter and other supplies. We support feral cat colonies and low-income families with limited resources. These donations are palletized and can weigh 1,000 to 2,000lbs for each skid. We are limited to two vehicles doing pick up on a distribution day. We store the supplies and pass them out to the people we support.
The volunteers who have taken care of this for the last 3 years are moving out of the area and can no longer do any part of these responsibilities. What we need:
Availability on a Saturday AM – sometimes due to inclement weather, distribution can get bumped to the next day. Distributions can be every one to two months depending on product availability.
Access to a vehicle (truck, large SUV, etc.) that can be loaded by forklift. Special arrangement needs to be made for hand loading and it really slows down their process. They service about 90 organizations on that one day distribution. There are truck rental companies that give us a discount on rental but we need someone comfortable driving a large delivery truck.
Physically able to assist with unloading.
Storage availability for 1 to 4 skids of canned and dry food – garage or warehouse space. Litter and other supplies could be stored elsewhere. Arrangements can be made for recipients to come pick up same day as much as they can transport but that is not always possible. Availability for pickup from your location at pre-arranged times by our recipients. Our new building will not be able to hold this volume of donations and we need to have an alternative. Unexpected donations from other sources can happen, too.
One person does not have to be responsible for all aspects of the program. There is usually a two-week warning of an upcoming distribution.
Due to the pandemic, we don't know when the next distribution will take place as resources are being concentrated in hot spots.
Thank you to everyone who continue support us!
Stay Safe! Stay Healthy!
April, 2020 Updates
Written by Tammy McAuley
You might not think that the Census would have anything to do with cats, right? Actually, thru the years I have used Census statistics to substantiate grant proposals, show how many cats per residents we have done in a town, justify our future activities. Number of residents, income levels, type of housing all impact the number of feral cats in an area.
The directions for filling out the form says it takes ten minutes. It took me three. Even at 10 minutes it is a very worthwhile investment of your time – and it benefits Feral Fixers!
The virus has impacted Feral Fixers in many ways.
Our Kitten Shower has been cancelled, resulting in fewer donations. We will be working on other ways to make up for those donations but we cannot replace the good will generated by the event – face to face makes a big difference, our people really enjoy getting together.
Work on the building may be slowed due to restriction of numbers of people and "Stay At Home."
Area vets have limited appointments. S/N is NOT considered an essential service. ADOPT Pet Shelter clinic has closed til further notice. We used the DCAS mobile unit this week, using safe distancing and PPE in the vehicle but the possible overall risk is too great and we will not be able to do s/n until further notice.
Many people are at home, doing Spring Cleaning and want to donate items to Feral Fixers for the building and this year's Garage Sale. We will not be putting anything in the building until we are done with improvements and we have no date for the Garage Sale as of yet. Hopefully, you have stored the items for this long, perhaps you can hold onto them a little longer – now you have them boxed up in a space-saving fashion 😊! And, please, when we are able to get together again, we will appreciate donations for our Silent Auction and door prizes.
Monetary donations – while the Required Minimum Distribution has been postponed for 2020 – many donations come from this source, the Covid-19 stimulus bill allows deductions for $300 charitable contributions in 2020.
Rescue Pack – this is the major source for our food donations. Due to the panic buying, supplies of donated pet food have been severely impacted. Temporarily, the focus has been shifted towards moving available donated food supplies to central locations, like animal controls, who may see an immediate impact in the number of animals they care for and have the largest staff numbers on hand in order to accommodate deliveries of food, most shelters have a skeleton crew at best right now. Supply of food has been cut pretty much in half but they understand the need and will be working hard to hold the next food distribution.
Trapping – this is so frustrating! We do not want to lose ground and have numbers surge again but we can't do neuter surgeries ourselves! You know, if I was able, I'd do it myself!!! We will have to consider each situation and do what we can to mitigate the impact. If that means nabbing and fostering kittens or leaving them all in place, we will have to judge on the basis of our resources at the time. So, no solid answers, we'll all have to work together for the best outcome we can achieve. Last year the surge of kittens happened on April 10th, calls are starting now.
Numbers To Date
On March 16th we ended up with two ferals that were trapped without notification, DCAS neutered them for us, both males. On March 19th we sent 5 ferals to ADOPT, 2 males, 3 females. Our last trip to DCAS, for the foreseeable future, was on 4/2 with 7 ferals, 2 males, 5 females. This brings our March total to 15, April total to 7, year total to 26 and 11,711 since our beginning.
Lots more to say, will post again soon, everyone stay healthy!
Written by Tammy McAuley
With the rapidly changing situation and recommendations, we have decided to cancel our Kitten Shower on April 19th.
We did mail out our invites over the weekend, not expecting the new restrictions.
If we are able to re-schedule, we will do so, but it is looking like months instead of weeks while the world goes thru this. Many other organizations are saying "See you next year." If you know someone who normally attends but does not participate in social media, please let them know about the cancellation.
We don't want anyone to be in a situation where they are exposed to a potentially fatal illness. Done.
We will still be doing TNR. We will stay in close contact with DCAS and ADOPT and are still planning on kicking off full trips in April. We absolutely do not want to lose ground. If caretakers are stuck at home, we might be busier than previous years!
We have cats waiting to be trapped already!
We hope to be able to close on our building this week – much can be done electronically but people have to actually be in their offices to receive and process. Scheduled for March 19th, the ending date of our Fund Our Ferals' Future fundraiser. We'll keep you posted on that front also.
When some normalcy returns we will have an Open House at the new building but cannot plan that date yet.
In the meantime, please take care of yourselves!
This is a global situation with local ramifications.
You may already be tired of hearing about it but this is not over yet, and Feral Fixers needs to update you one what we're doing.
We have no choice but to continue to do our work. We cannot lose ground, must continue to care for the cats. As long as none of us are sick, we will evaluate our own contacts with the public, which is usually one-on-one. We ask that anyone we will encounter consider our safety.
We have an event scheduled for April 19th, the Kitten Shower at the VFW in Villa Park. At this time, the VFW has had no issues, they are wiping down all surfaces after each event they host. This is still 5 weeks away and so much can change in just 5 weeks with this situation. The numbers could be worse or we could be on the downside with numbers going down dramatically. There's so much to do before the day of an event, we'll be sending out postcards today, working on gift baskets, etc.
Right now, we are still planning on holding the event. Attendance is usually 150 to 200 people, below the limits recently set by Governor Pritzker. We are not an excessively touchy-feely crowd, we will be supplying everyone with their own pens, providing hand sanitizer, figuring out the food. We do not have the resources to turn this into a virtual event on short notice and there isn't an alternate time period in the year we can move it to.
We will be monitoring the situation and may still cancel the event. So many enjoy the Kitten Shower, it may be the only time in the year we get to see our supporters and it is one of our major fundraisers.
We'll see what this looks like in a few weeks and keep everyone informed of our plans, it is a very fluid situation. DO NOT plan on attending if you feel the slightest bit ill or concerned. Your health is the most important thing here. You can turn it into your own virtual event!
Wanted to let everyone know where we are with this!