We had a busy and productive adoption event on Saturday, 7/30, at our building. This was our third adoption event of the month. Our guests included several approved and potential adopters, possible future volunteers, donors, and other folks who just wanted to come and meet our kitties.
3 adult cats (Claire, Chloe, Barbie) and 17 kittens (Sysco, Sybil, Tira Misu, Tiffanie, Tillie, Mimosa, Miranda, Mirabelle, Misha & Micky, Yogi & Yonda, Pandy, Pasha, YaYa, Yahtzee, Yamaha) were the stars of our show.
6 kitten adoptions were completed to pre-approved adopters at the event: YaYa & Yamaha, Sybil, Miranda & Mirabelle, Mimosa
This helped us close out July as a record month of adoptions - 52 in total! This included 3 adult cats (Rio, Melissa & Biskit) and 49 kittens. 20 of these adoptions occurred at our adoption events on 7/9, 7/16 and 7/30. The remaining 32 adoptions were conducted from foster homes or the building between events. What a joy to see the cats & kittens we rescued in spring develop into social house kitties ready for their new families through the dedication, socialization and TLC of all of our foster families!
Many thanks to the foster families who brought their cats/kittens to the 7/30 event most of whom were able to stay and promote them to our guests (Ashley, Jenny, Jen, Jill, John, Gillian). Thanks also to the volunteers who made the event possible - Christy for staying late on Friday to clean and setup for the event and then coming early and staying all day on Saturday to help with execution of the event, Sara for a great job of setup, adoption counseling, Facebook posting and many behind the scenes activities supporting our adoption events, Steve/Sara for creating the cage cards, Olivia for adoption counseling and promoting our resident building cats & kittens, Vicki for staffing the front desk and greeting our guests, Candy for photography, Facebook posting, and handling our lunch run, Connie & Ted for the great job promoting this event.
What an amazing team of volunteers!
We have two adoption events scheduled in our building in August: Saturday, 8/13 and Saturday, 8/27.
There are many, many wonderful cats & kittens who will be featured at these events. Hoping for continued success in finding them loving homes.
Didn’t Know How Good We Had It!
Written by Tammy McAuley
With all the changes we’ve been experiencing, the harsh reality is that we just didn’t know how good we used to have it!
Feral Fixers used to have 20 to 30 spay/neuter slots available each and every week between the two clinics we use. Now, we usually have 10 at one location and sometimes can come up with another five at the other and we’ve been tremendously lucky to have mega days. Just not the same as being able to plan ahead and KNOW when trapping was possible with consistently available spay/neuter slots. I told about the lack of veterinarians in the last blog post. In the coming week we have 10 slots available and 23 kittens of neutering age. That does not include any ferals. The clinics are doing their best. Other TNR groups and shelters are competing across the board. You can suggest we go back to trekking into Chicago – that’s another thing – risks are high driving in Chicago. And they are all booked solid as well.
There’s a hope for another vet in mid-August, a facility may open more space soon – but that town has a terrible history of dragging its feet on permit approval, it goes on and on.
Our fosters are going to be frustrated as they wait for their kittens to be neutered, our feral cat caretakers will be watching the pregnant females give birth with no recourse, kittens will age out of being tameable with no surgery slots.
My goal is to fix problems and we’ve been doing very well to date, but we just didn’t know how good we had it! All those people who called in good faith that we would get to their cats and kittens, we may not make it. Everyone in Rescue is stressed right now. If we don’t call back, if we have to tell you we just can’t do it, please understand. Be assured, we are doing the best we can. Today, someone trapped a female while trying to get a kitten, we are not going to release her, we’ll be trying to spay her this week. One of her kittens has already been trapped – although at least 14 weeks old, he was enjoying being petted yesterday. They just keep coming!
If you are the Mega Millions winner here in Illinois, think about helping fund spay/neuter! Support the education and employment of veterinarians that are experienced in high volume s/n, close by, working every day they can.
We try so very hard to not be negative but geez! When are things going to get better?
We’ve made two trips this week, taking advantage of every opportunity we can.
On July 26 we sent 5 friendly kittens in to DCAS, 3 males, 2 females.
On July 29, we sent 10 friendly kittens in to ADOPT, 4 males and 6 females.
This brings our July total to 101, our total for the year to 356 and 13,570 is our total since our start in 2007. If just half of that grand total were female and each went on to have just one litter of four, that means a minimum of 27,000 births prevented in that time.
"It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love, is well done." - Vincent van Gogh
YaYa, Yahtzee & Yamaha - soon after they came in - doin' great in foster! Scheduled to be at 7/30 Adoption Event
This is Chessie - had a bot in his neck and his eye! Both removed, happy paws and demanding attention now!
Thea was nabbed because she maybe had an eye infection, even tho she was still nursing at about 4 weeks. Kittens get gunky eyes when under stress - looks good now and she is eating a mixture of KMR and kitten canned on her own!
Thea playing with toys, moved to CiT and bigger cage now!
More Than Facts & Figures
Written by Tammy McAuley
When you see the chart below with the numbers of cats we’ve neutered, there is so much more detail, information, emotion!
Over 80 kittens were neutered in this time frame. Kittens that came in with their moms and were fostered together. Kittens that came in screaming for their mom, not quite weaned and needed bottle feeding to get them to eating solid foods. Kittens that were hissing and spitting and did not choose this change in their lives. Weeks of care, intense interaction to get them to the stage where they are adoptable. All neutered before being adopted, fostered, until the adoptions take place.
Over 90 ferals were neutered in June, over 80 already for July. They don’t simply come in and go back out all the time either. Some decide while they are in the trap that a life inside might be a good thing. That involves a stint in a crate and seeing just how much they are willing to invest in being a friendly. All different levels – some go into homes, some find new lodgings as working cats, situations that fit their personalities. True ferals can be a relief! Even then, a cat that was in full attack mode while in hand, can turn into a very nice cat 6 months later when all the hormones have subsided. THEN, do we try to find that cat a home?
What I’m saying is, there is more to TNR than simple surgeries! The figures seem rather stark. A total of cats TNR’d – 92 in June, 86 so far in July, 341 for the year and 13,555 since our beginning in 2007.
The chart does not show the half dozen adoption returns and elderly ferals that we have taken in in the last two months, either. A returned, 4-year-old wonderful female that had to have a dental – 9 teeth removed - upon her return. A 14-year-old former feral, emaciated, making happy paws when taken to the vet for evaluation, doing great and now adopted by his foster family. We could go on and on!
Just know that there is so much more to what we do than the facts & figures we share!
"The reward for work well done is the opportunity to do more." (Jonas Salk)
Lots of cats, ready to go!
It took 3 cars to transport the cats from 7/14!
It took 3 cars to transport the cats from 7/14
And then there are small loads - one to GEAH and two to DCAS on the same day. All important!
The Great Veterinary Shortage
You notice that we are making more frequent trips for s/n almost each and every week? That is due to the lack of total surgery slots available to us. Vet and vet tech lives are changing; therefore, the volume of surgeries is changing. Way back when, it used to be just one trip a week. June of 2018 began our relationship with DuPage County Animal Services Mobile Spay/Neuter & Adoption Van, which reduced and then ended our very long road trips every week to PAWS in Chicago, a huge benefit. We also increased our reliance on ADOPT Pet Shelter’s clinic. Our huge flood of kittens this year has resulted in increased friendly numbers as we get them neutered and up for adoption and keep the flow going. This unfortunately can “bump” our ability to trap ferals and get them neutered as the slots get used up. Looking at last year, we are down about 80 surgeries overall compared to this time in July 2021. The situation is finally getting more national attention:
Glen Ellyn Animal Hospital hosts externs and interns in their practice. One of our friendlies from the street, Petey, was able to take advantage of being neutered and his injured paw cared for on July 21st at GEAH under the care of their current extern and Dr. Klazura, staff vet - he's doing well!
We are doing our best with fewer resources. In the meantime, be nice to the vets you use – they are under a huge amount of stress, just like we are!
Where Did Your Cat Come From?
It is very important that adopters find out the source of the cats/kittens they adopt. We are very lucky to have partners that take our cats for adoption in addition to our own adoptions. This topic can be difficult to discuss, but while we are caring for so many animals in our area, fighting so hard, how can more be imported from other areas, towns, states and even countries? It can be devastating to me when I hear of a shelter taking in, say 50 cats from another state, directly impacting the adoptions of 50 local cats. Directly impacting all cats in the area from finding and staying in homes. We have limited resources in regards to adoptive homes, veterinary care, etc. In an airplane, put your own mask on first before you help others so that you CAN help others. Help our local cats first so that effort can spread, THEN move on to a wider scope. We are all finding that resources are finite, we need to use our own local resources to fix our local issues, first.
This is a picture of Jujube. She was scooped up from a yard. She is hairless because she had a huge flea bite reaction. I met Laura after she picked her up and went directly to GEAH with her. She is doing so well now!
July 30th Adoption Event
Six 7 day old kittens came in with their mom. At the building, doing well!
(Click on any of the picture thumbnails to see a full-size version)
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?