You can also donate to our Fund Our Ferals' Future campaign by CLICKING HERE.
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?
Early February updates
Written by Tammy McAuley
Moving Day – Storage Unit!
We first rented our storage unit in 2013 after "The Flood." It was a great deal, we were happy. Then the rental cost went up every year. Low and behold, there's a Public Storage on the corner, less than two blocks from the building! Indoor facility, so the unit door won't ice up, and we're starting out 40 bucks cheaper a month. It turns out, you don't have to pay the insurance fee if you have other insurance, so we're paying a $22 per year addition on our Feral Fixers insurance for off-site storage, instead of $180 to Public Storage for the next year! We have so much equipment that doesn't get used year-long, we need this! Hmm, would anyone like to donate specifically for our storage unit? After whittling away at it, that is $144/mo 😊!
This is not everything we'd like to store here.
Not earth-shattering change, but we now have a dumpster! And a contract for our snow-plowing! I'm figuring that most people don't have any idea what those things cost when you own a building? A 2-yard dumpster – smallest possible, picked up twice a month (least frequency) is $64/month. The snow removal, now, that was an eye-opener. Over 2", shovel the walks, de-icer spread, that's $124 a trip. Additional cost for heavier snowfalls. We needed someone we could rely on completely to get the job done, so the friend of so-and-so's uncle's next-door neighbor wasn't something we felt we could do for now, but we may be open to discussion for next year 😊! Again, these are consistent expenses, and any help with them would be greatly appreciated!
2021 Off To A Slow Start – Thank Goodness!
While we are not actively trapping, things happen. One caretaker did not get the memo and brought an older kitten (past taming) into his bathroom and wanted her spayed. Another feral had severe bite injuries to both front paws and one ear but was otherwise healthy. Our LAST two kittens from 2020 were ready for s/n!
On 1/21, one feral female went to ADOPT; caretaker was going to house her in garage til she could be let back outside. On 1/27, the injured male feral was neutered and cared for at Glen Ellyn Animal Hospital. On 1/29, two friendlies, one male and one female, were neutered at ADOPT. The January total is 4 cats, year-to-date is four cats, and our total since our start is 12,453! We do not plan to do additional surgeries until the end of February, and those are situations we already know about. We will still be saying no, wait until the end of March.
Ziggy is the feral who was neutered at Glen Ellyn Animal Hospital, and at the same time his injuries were cared for. Winter is very hard on us at Feral Fixers, so many animals end up sick and injured at the end of the year – it's like they have used up all their oompf. We don't usually neuter cats at Glen Ellyn; they cannot discount a neuter surgery as much as the high volume clinics dedicated solely to s/n; we try to do just a few a year and weigh the need to sedate more than once against housing an unneutered cat and the additional cost. Planning a Facebook fundraiser for Ziggy as the cost for the treatment and the neuter will be about $475. It sounds like a lot but has been life-saving for Ziggy. As with most ferals when first coming in from the outside, he ate like crazy after surgery but has since relaxed and started eating a normal amount now. No indication that he wishes to be an indoor cat, but we'll see. That shouldn't always be what we rely on to make our decisions.
"Rubbing against catnip and silver vine transfers plant chemicals that researchers have now shown protect cats from mosquitoes. The results also demonstrate that engaging with nepetalactol, which the study identified as the most potent of many intoxicating iridoid compounds found in silver vine, activates the opioid reward system in both domesticated felines and big jungle cats. While nepetalactol had been previously identified, these studies directly illuminate its extremely potent effect on cats. And by revealing the biological significance of well-known feline behaviors, the study opens the door to further inquiry into how nepetalactol's twin effects - pest repellence and intoxication - may have driven the evolution of these behaviors."
I had never heard of silver vine before this article – it's indigenous to China and Korea, but since this article, I have seen advertisements of cat toys made with silver vine. I had also heard of people rubbing catnip on themselves to repel mosquitoes. So glad there has been more research on the effects of catnip – there's a reason for everything! Plant a patch for your ferals!
(click on any of the picture thumbnails to see a full-size version)
2021 Happy New Year! Raffle A Success!
Written by Tammy McAuley
There are many ways to evaluate whether a fundraiser is a success. I always lean towards whether the participant has a good time, feels that they made a difference, get something back in more than one way. Our in-person events are a great way to do that and I'm missing them SO much. Sunday was the drawing for the Raffle and each of the eight people were very happy to hear that they were winners and had stories of their own. One winner told me about more cats to TNR that we didn't know about and they will be on the list for when we resume. Another told me about how she has started doing TNR herself, done 10 adults and rescued 16 kittens – I warned her that this can become addictive 😊. To share positive news makes a big difference! Our goal was to try to replace the Silent Auction and Door Prizes at Frosty Claws and we came very close – we raised $6300 and sold 1,260 raffle tickets. Many other donations come in the day of Frosty Claws but this was definitely worth it and we'll do another raffle in a few months, around Kitten Shower time, stay tuned.
By the Sea
What A Dog Needs
Party Like It's 2021!
Sample of Raffle Spreadsheet
Other TNR Groups
It is good to share among TNR groups, we have geographical and resource differences and definitely different views. I wanted to share a post from a group in Florida The truth about that free cat trapper. Seems like many of the trappers in this post work on their own and don't have centralized support. What is different with Feral Fixers is that we have funding from our donors, supplies (surgery slots, chips, newspaper, towels, traps, recovery space) and we don’t feel as alone as the writer of this post. Because we have support, we don't get AS upset when people call demanding instantaneous service for the problems that THEY have usually created. When you share our info and say "call Feral Fixers, they'll help you", try to also share that we cannot do everything, we need some involvement from those closest to the cats. Just wanted to share how tough things could be for us without YOU!
TNR in San Francisco Bay Area 09 30 2020
Most information supporting TNR is anecdotal, there just isn't the time and bodies to conduct a finite study of TNR in one location, with a big enough sample to show the impact. This study (Abstract is here. Full report is here.) took place in the San Francisco Bay area from 2004 to 2020, starting out with an initial population of 175 cats. TNR was performed by Project Bay Cat. At the end of the study, one cat remained in the area thru the use of TNR. The population was reduced thru relocation, adoption, disappearance, and euthanization of those who were ill. Information like this is simply not available on most news feeds, definitely worth a quick read. It does show that the number of cats can initially increase due to kittens being produced but the first impact can be no further growth as the kittens are removed and the adults are neutered. That is how one of our colonies may start out at 20 cats and we end up doing TNR on 35+ very easily. Project Bay Cat and the researchers who put together the study are to be commended for their efforts – TNR is difficult enough, managing data is an extremely tough job!
“We know only too well that what we are doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. But if the drop were not there, the ocean would be missing something.” Mother Teresa
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!
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!