There is a theory among TNR people that as a species, the cats are working against our best efforts by increasing their fertility as we try to lower their numbers. Years ago, we never saw a litter of more than 4 kittens. Now, litters of 6 and 7 are very common. We also are encountering a larger number of females in the colonies. Hmmm.
In the last two weeks:
On 4/29 we sent 19 ferals to DCAS, 12 females and 7 males.
On 4/30 we sent 5 ferals to ADOPT, all 5 were female.
On 5/6 we sent 15 ferals to DCAS, 10 females and 6 males. We always wish a safe, happy home for the cats - one of the females of this trip was showing signs of being friendly and the caretaker had said that he would take her in if that was the case – Saturday, our volunteer brought a crate with when she returned Margie and set her up in a room. Five minutes away, she got a call from the caretaker, cat was out of crate (not our instructions 😊) and loving on him already, she has a permanent home now.
On 5/7 we sent 3 friendlies, 1 feral to ADOPT, 2 females, 2 males. Unfortunately, the feral male had a severe head abscess and many other injuries while being hard FIV+ which would impact any hope of healing and he was euthanized. We relay this information so that it is clear that neutering saves lives – if this cat was neutered, he wouldn't have had the fighting behaviors that resulted in his injuries and FIV status.
Too often, there are kittens in a colony that we are unaware of prior to trapping. From late PM on 5/5 to late PM on 5/6 three kittens were discovered in and out of a completely crammed garage and shed. In the 5/6 trip there were 3 females from one location, they came back from surgery with notes that one was 6 years old, one was in heat and one was lactating. On 5/7 we tried putting the kittens with the lactating female – she was not thrilled but was letting them climb all over her. We decided to risk it, sent them off to a mom & babies foster and by early 5/8 heard the great news that all were nursing and the babies were tasting the canned food already!
You can see how hard we're working, this brings us to a total of 116 cats in April, 19 cats so far in May, 177 so far in 2021 and 12,626 since our start in 2007. Last year it was so hard to get surgery slots, by the end of May we had done only 95 cats in 2020. In 2019, by the end of May we had done 157 – so we're still ahead of when things were "normal"! Many thanks to Karen, April, Cheri, Laura, Edie, Mark, Diane, Kim for facilitating trapping, in addition to all the caretakers who are trapping! Thank you to our transporters – Debbie, Charli, Dedra, Karen, April! It takes a lot of people to accomplish this work!
19 cats already done!
The TNR room is so calm...
Bryan & Margie
Thank you for doing YOUR part!
Fund Our Ferals' Futures Fundraisers A Success!
Our fundraisers were successful! Our DuPage Giving Days raised a total of over $8,000 (final figures for an additional pool of funds not available yet) and our Giving Grid met the goal of $10,000 (with a matching of $10,000). This will help us continue to work on our building and definitely fund the purchase of our ISO cages (below). And, of course, keep the lights on, water flowing and the garbage collected – all those things associated with property upkeep!
Our ISO Room Has Cages!
(From Sue Lee)
We now have cages in our ISO room! The Shor-Line cages arrived on Thursday, 5/6. Debbie was there to receive them, and Larry and Karen promptly moved them into the building and got them unboxed.
Today, Saturday, 5/8, a team of folks including Larry, Laura and Vicki figured out all of the puzzle pieces and got them assembled. A special challenge was getting them properly aligned so the doors open and close smoothly. Thanks to Larry's, Vicki's and Laura's ingenuity and determination, the cages are looking and functioning nicely.
A few tasks remain - swapping the direction the door swings on 6 of the cages to accommodate the room configuration and installing the cat portals connecting two pairs of cages. Challenges for another day!
Many thanks to Larry, Laura, Vicki, Karen and Debbie for their help with this project!
Thank you volunteers!
Written by Sue Lee
With a wonderful group of volunteers who came and went throughout the afternoon, we were able to complete the mulching activity at the building today (5/2)!
Gillian and I kicked off the activity shortly before noon. We were soon joined by Annie, a volunteer from a local high school Interact Club, sponsored by Gillian. Candy and Vicki joined the team shortly thereafter. A little while later, Larry showed up with his awesome monster wheelbarrow. That is when the mulch really got moving!
After Candy, Annie and Vicki had to leave for other activities, we got a second wave of volunteers with new energy - Cheri, Joanie and David. This enabled us to finish the job. The building looks great with a fresh covering of mulch!
Thanks so much to all of these wonderful volunteers for their energy, muscle, sweat and dedication! Special thanks to Gillian, who helped throughout the mulching process and sponsored the Interact students who helped us this week and last week!
(Click on any of the picture thumbnails to see a full-size version)
Can we keep this up?
Written by Tammy McAuley
Despite the dip in temperatures, DCAS started up their mobile vehicle last week.
On 4/22 we sent 30 ferals to DCAS, 17 males and 13 females. ADOPT continues to make a significant difference. On 4/22 we sent 5 ferals, 3 males, 2 females. And on 4/23 we sent 10 ferals, 5 males, 5 females.
As an example of the support of local organizations – a kitty we named Urchin was spayed on 4/22 at ADOPT. She is sooo friendly, WSHS had room to bring her in that day to their adoption program – don't know if they will keep the name – she's the black cat with the unusual left eye if she pops up on their adoption page.
This brings us to 92 for April, 134 to date for 2021 and 12,583 since our beginning. Will we make it to 13,000 in 2021? Lookin' good!
So much more pleasant than the garage!
2021 Fantastic Garage Sale
Garage sales have started popping up already! As you do your Spring cleaning, keep Feral Fixers in mind – our Garage Sale will be on June 26th from 8am to 3pm. Please only donate things that will sell, stuff that if you came across it at a different time you would buy it. NO CLOTHING, NO ELECTRONICS! We emphasize, sellable stuff! If it doesn't sell we have to take it somewhere or get an organization to pick it up from us. Donations in the past have been GREAT and people have had a lot of time to sort thru their belongings and we thank you in advance for sharing those items with us to raise funds!!! Try to hold onto stuff until the week before – drop offs begin June 19th at the garage sale location. This will kick off our next fundraiser – As If They Were Our Own – we direct those funds toward the care of feral cats that goes beyond spay/neuter – wounds, etc., someone has to take care of these cats and we do our best! Put June 19th – 26th on your calendar!
Mom & Babies Fosters
From year to year we never know what we will encounter in regards to kittens and moms & babies. So far this year we have 3 sets on hand. While we would prefer to leave them outside until the kittens are 5 weeks old, that is not always possible. One set was in a feral cat shelter outside the door of a 3rd floor apartment building, another was a cat that unexpectedly gave birth after being brought inside during the severe cold and the third had her kittens in a 4ft deep window well – moms are more likely to abandon kittens in a window well. When fostering moms & babies, usually the mom does all the work and the humans just do some light housekeeping until the kittens are coming out and able to be handled. MUST be kept in a crate for the benefit of all parties until kittens are older and able to be separated. Wanted to share some great photos of crate set-up. Remember, tell everyone that if they find kittens, LEAVE THEM ALONE unless they are at risk and call us before you do anything!
Feral cat dens allow everyone to feel safe in the crate
Great crate set-up Elsa and her SIX kittens are inside
Keeping feral moms quiet and comfortable is very important
Kittens will be out and about before we know it they'll have plenty of room
Fund Our Ferals' Futures Fundraisers Ending 4/30!
Maybe you wondered about two fundraisers with the same purpose at the same time? We had already set up our Giving Grid fundraiser when Giving DuPage invited our participation in Giving DuPage Days. We could not miss out on the additional publicity and presence that Giving DuPage could give us and our Giving Grid donors enjoy sharing and participating in that platform so we decided to do both. We have such wonderful donors who are really stepping up for both campaigns. Please share with friends and family and know that those funds will go on to help Feral Fixers for years to come as we will use those funds to support our building – our next purchase will be cages for our ISO room, so we can house cats that need that extra care without infecting and affecting others in the building. Campaigns end April 30th!
The Kittyman Sea Shanty
Written by Tammy McAuley
Something to brighten your day...
What A Year!
Written by Tammy McAuley
If nothing else has come of this year it has brought us all new appreciation for what we have, what we have lost and what we are able to do to make things better for ourselves and others.
We appreciate all the people who have continued to care about the cats. Many new caretakers had the time to resolve the cats around them. Extra time spent at home led to lots of new fosters and some foster failures as those families adopted their fosters, unable to part with them. People spending more time at home led to many more kittens being brought in and the longest "kitten season" we've ever experienced with the extended balmy weather. We formed tighter bonds with the area rescues as we all went thru the same challenges.
All those kittens took a toll on our fosters, our s/n transporters and Sue, our adoption counselor. There were individual kittens that actually received 40 – 50 inquiries EACH! But each of these kittens go to the best home possible for them as individuals and the alumni stories we receive validate the effort put into that goal. Please take the time to read the foster story included in this newsletter, we have some very impressive volunteers.
Thru it all we kept going as our physical interactions with people are limited and usually outdoors. A few fosters experienced COVID, most of us have been able to remain healthy.
Our ability to fundraise has been greatly impacted as cat people are much more social with other cat people than one might think and they greatly enjoy our in-person events!
A Few Notes About the Building
We try to wash and disinfect our traps before they go into Winter storage so they can be used immediately in the Spring. We were able to transport them all to the building, the railing spacing on the ramp made it very easy to get them into the building, the new washtub was able to hold 4 traps (3 large, 1 small) at once, so simple! And there was plenty of room for spraying with a blast of disinfectant, rinsing and shipping off to storage!
Just a few more days of our Black Cat Giving Tuesday Fundraiser. We hope the 2021 Feral Fixers Happy New Year! Raffle helps to replace our Frosty Claws event and provide something our donors will enjoy participating in.
For many reasons, I receive emails from a great many non-profits. That means that I see how they promote their organizations and ask for money. We do our very best to be different, low-volume and specific about our needs. I can't imagine how weary some of you must be, bombarded on a daily basis by every group for human, environmental, political and animal needs. I could say negative things about those other groups but would instead reaffirm that funds donated to Feral Fixers work to benefit the cats in this geographic area. Surgeries, medications, food, transportation, supplies, a building to house them in, it all goes towards the cats. The percentage of funds used for fundraising (administrative costs are often a high percentage of total costs) is minimal. We adapt ideas and make our asks as enjoyable as possible 😸. We will never be able to give up fundraising but promise to keep the annoyance to a minimum!
We have personal relationships with our donors and we appreciate them so much!
We wish you a Wonderful Holiday and the Best Possible New Year!
Thank you all for your personal messages this year, they are greatly appreciated. Wish we could thank you all individually!
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!
The story of Honey, and other updates...
Written by Tammy McAuley
Winter Feral Cat Care
Remember that cats put a fat layer on, starting in the Fall so that if it is necessary, they can hunker down for days if needed. Try not to call them out for food when you are worried that you haven't seen them. Coming out, their shelter cooling, getting snow on their fur, can cost them more calories than they can consume sometimes. It is very hard to leave them alone but provide food, look on our website (Cold Weather Care) for ways to keep food and water from freezing – at least for a short period of time, provide Kitten Chow for the extra fat content and be patient. We've had several calls about cats who are not doing well and have helped where we can, most calls are a result of age and injury, not just the cold. Providing shelter and food is sometimes the best you can do!
Still Not Trapping, But…
While we cannot plunge into full-fledged TNR, there have been situations that we were able and had to respond to. On 2/3, Blizzard (male, feral) went to Glen Ellyn Animal Hospital with an abscessed wound on his tail. Since he had to be sedated to care for the injury, he was neutered at the same time. He has NOT decided to be friendly but is now healed and as soon as the weather improves, will go back outside. We received a call from a guy who had gone to great lengths to care for a group of ferals – renting a garage just to house them. The landlord discovered this and said they had to go. We were contacted 4 days before the deadline. Luckily one of our volunteers had the use of space to house them temporarily. Most were able to be loaded into carriers by the caretaker, one had to be trapped. These 8 cats would sing (okay, yowl) most of the night for the first 3 nights – this happens as cats try to make themselves feel better about such a huge change. They suddenly became more settled on the 4th day, only one continuing to yell – but that seemed to be because she wanted to be petted! A man was threatening to shoot the ferals in his yard. He wasn't going to change, cats needed to be trapped and removed. They seem to come from down the street, we'll be pursuing that location as soon as we can for TNR. First cat turned out to be quite friendly, 2nd is not super feral, we'll see. On 2/16, we sent 10 cats to ADOPT, since we needed to be sure we wouldn't have to go back and eartip later if they did not become adoptable, they were all done as ferals. With these, we've done 11 cats so far in February, 15 for 2021, our grand total is 12,464! Again, we are dragging our feet on further surgeries until the weather improves around the end of March.
Another Microchips Are Forever Story – In May 2011, we removed a total of 19 cats from a trailer in Plainfield, back when we were more likely to do hoarding situations. Those cats had a range of outcomes. Some were too feral and were relocated to a pig sanctuary that needed cats to cope with mice in the grain storage area. Some went for adoption to PAWS and to PURRS, some were adoptions from Feral Fixers later in 2011. Microchips are forever and we have new information about Honey. She was adopted thru Feral Fixers. Those adopters had a life change, surrendered her to DuPage County Animal Services in May 2020. We had no place to put her (2020!) and she was transferred to Chicagoland Animal Rescue from DCAS (CAR takes in a lot of older or less easily adoptable cats from DCAS – thank you!). After a brief stay with CAR, Honey AKA Oksana was adopted by a wonderful man on 7/15/20. What a long road and we're very glad to have played a part in it!
Honey aka Oksana in her new home
Petting A Cat Releases Endorphins
We knew there was more to petting a cat than just making the CAT happy, right? Turns out it increases our endorphins, making US happy, too! Does having one cat make us want more because of our physical response?