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Added Apr 10 2014

Hi Folks. I manage several feral cat colonies in the area (all TNR'd), but will be out of town next week. My usual substitute for one colony is incapacitated. For only two days, I need someone to stop by Sawyer and George to simply fill food (I'll provide the food) and water bowls (you bring a jug full). It's quick and easy, but very meaningful. Please let me know if you can help. We can set up a time to meet over there to walk it through. Thanks!

  • Life hint #184. Starting your email with "Life hint..." is a pretty douchy response.

  • Whatever. Educated some people, annoyed a couple others who missed the point. Got a volunteer. That's all that matters.

  • robin in WRP I support a 28th Amendment 4Free & Fair Elections!

    Feeding feral cats is not helpful. It encourages the spread of diseases.

    Feed humans, not animals!

  • Don't even know where to start with this one...

  • Poppyboy wouldn't have guessed from your posts that you were so kind and generous!!!

  • Robin, you have your causes, poppyboy has his. The world works when everyone does their thing.

  • Jen Baron JBaron

    What a great thing you are doing poppyboy. Bless you!

  • RaleighsMa Not fauxraged but may contain typos.

    I wondered where all the cats that are using my yard and gardens as a litter box were coming from. It's definitely increased in the last few years.

    I have a legitimate, non-trolling, non-drama, would-like-real-info question about the colonies but I don't think it's worthy of a separate post so I'll just ask here. Do the colonies eventually die out since the cat population is not reproducing or are other cats attracted to the colony and food source so that the location is made into a perpetual cat sanctuary? Thanks in advance for any info.

  • RaleighsMa, very good questions. In short, yes the colonies do eventually die out since the population is not reproducing. Other cats can be attracted to the food source, but that's not a bad thing as part of the responsibility/commitment of a Registered Colony Caretaker is to spay/neuter/vaccinate any newcomers to the colony. In Cook County feeding feral cats is permitted only if the feeder/caretaker is registered with a sponsor organization, such as Tree House or PAWS. Registration comes with a long list of commitments including, spay/neuter/vaccinate/microchip/maintain a clean area, etc. There are thousands of registered colony caretakers in Cook County and the surrounding areas. Here are two local and one national TNR resources that can answer any additional questions anyone reading this exchange may have:

    Tree House Humane Society:

    PAWS Chicago:

    Alley Cat Allies:

  • RaleighsMa-Thank you for the on-topic, non-trolling question/comment. The ultimate goal is to reduce the population, so theoretically, if TNR efforts progress, the number of homeless cats would be reduced. However, that's not even in the realm of possibility anytime soon until we can get a handle on the overwhelming population, as well as educating people to spay/neuter/not let their cats outside. In addition to continued TNR efforts, the best and most humane thing we can do is to provide them (cat) food, water and shelter. Their lives are hazardous enough dealing with cars, dogs, poison, weather, people with no moral compass, etc. When cats are spayed/neutered/vaccinated, besides the best benefit of not reproducing, they are less aggressive (noisy) and have reduced eliminations of urine to mark territories. Believe it or not, some people are in favor of euthanizing feral cats. However, 1. they have a right to live, 2. eliminating a colony doesn't reduce the population, as, like you said, it opens the opportunity for other ferals to move in and 3. they reduce the rat population.

  • RaleighsMa Not fauxraged but may contain typos.

    Thanks for the quick comments! That's helpful.

  • Robin,

    Feeding feral cats is the best way to manage the feral cat situation. Cats quickly become feral if they aren't socialized at a young age.

    If you Trap and euthanize them, more cats from other areas will quickly fill the void. If you Trap, Neuter and Release them, you get an opportunity to treat them for diseases and injury, chip them and return them to the area and halt rampant reproduction.

    Treehouse Animal Shelter has a program where they also teach how to make small cat houses for them to safely get shelter in the winter. Many feral cats and kittens freeze to death in extreme weather like we've had. They often attract new cats to the colony who are in turn fixed, chipped and released.

    The colony caretaker (who here is going out of town) first registers with the City of Chicago to be an official colony caretaker. It is a great way to keep the cat population in check and show compassion for animals who may have once been someone's pet and were just discarded or are their descentdants.

    For more information, check out:

  • Sorry Kari, I didn't see your very articulate response! : )

  • PetParent Founder of Pitter Patter Parenting

    Great job everyone in helping the cats and helping to educate everyone on TNR. I too am a registered cat colony caretaker through Tree House. Their website is full of educational information on the topic. Glad you got a volunteer poppyboy.

  • Swiffer Green Girl


  • RaleighsMa Not fauxraged but may contain typos.

    TROLL.... No cute acronym. It just means "troll."

  • C. M. D. Avondale Triangle resident

    In terms of feral cat colonies eventually dying out, I can say that the one we had here did so after about 8 years of TNR. My sister in law is a vet, so I'd trap the cats, she'd neuter them, we'd bring the back. Finally, there were only two cats left, and they were pretty well socialized and getting up there in age. I managed to snag them about two years ago, and now they're living the "high life" (for cats) as barn cats in Wisconsin.
    One immediate result of the cat colony dying out: a massive surge in the rat population. Even though the cats were fed, they still killed vermin regularly, as natural predators. Admittedly, it was pretty gross to find a stack of freshly-killed rats right outside my gate every day, but they kept the rodent population in check. It's not very much NOT in check, and we've had City rodent control in here again and again and again, to no avail.
    TL;DR - we let our feral cat colony die out via TNR and I wish we still had a few for rat-killing purposes.

  • One more question. How do they know which are neutered already when they're trapped? Do they mark them somehow or a collar?

  • C. M. D. Avondale Triangle resident

    In our case (which was a totally unofficial TNR), they'd get their ear notched during the surgery.

  • Oh okay, thanks for the response. I figured it could be quite confusing otherwise.

  • PetParent Founder of Pitter Patter Parenting

    Yes, the ear notch is the general practice.

  • Agreed. It's also called an ear tip. The Tree House clinic normally does it on the left ear.

  • This is quite an interesting post--learning a lot! Relatives in rural Virginia are involved with feral cat colony, but I didn't realize how many there were in Chicago. What is an ear notch?

  • Feral and domestic cats have a devastating effect on migratory song bird populations. I am opposed to maintaining feral cat colonies. See article below or google "migratory song birds and cats"

  • That's hardly the case, Neighbor Lady. There are many Robins, Finches, Wrens and pigeons all over areas in the city where feral colonies exist. It's highly unlikely that ferals pick and choose only migratory song birds.
    SoccerMom: An ear notch/ear tip is the tip of a feral cat's ear which has been removed during spay/neuter surgery so that caregivers/volunteers can easily identify it has been TNR'd. I have a camera on my back porch, and review the footage in the morning to see if there are any overnight feeders who don't have an ear tip. I TNR any new ones. Likewise, if caregivers notice any new ones around a colony without an ear tip, they TNR them, too.

  • Jen Baron JBaron

    Neighbor Lady- I agree that we need to do all we can to help save our birds( and also, our pollinators, the bees and bats, who are dying by the millions thanks to pesticide use by every day people who use chemical fertilizers and pesticides on gardens and lawns and I could go on and on...) BUT, you seem to be missing a HUGE POINT in what maintaining feral cat communities is all about! It is in fact about REDUCING the feral communities! By TNR, they are not able to procreate on a massive scale, thus reducing populations, thus actually helping to potentially save our birds, and probably also helping save tax payer $ by reducing the amount of animals who end up at the kill shelters who are overwhelmed on a daily basis! THINK about it!

  • Vinita Mehta Resident

    Humans are the major cause of decreased habitats for birds.

    I would love to help Poppyboy. My email is

  • Poppyboy, I'd love to help again too.

  • Poppyboy, you are a caring person, we need more like you.

  • I took some time to read up on feral cat hunting preferences. if you go to this website you can read some actual data on feral cats and see cool POV pictures of daily feral cat activities.

    The study here shows that small native mammals, not rats, are the preferred diet of feral cats. And although cats don't kill as many birds as people think, at least in Georgia, they choose songbirds and nestlings of ground dwelling birds, all native species. There are a ton of house finches and robins in Chicago, but these aren't the species Neighbor Lady is concerned about.

    As for controlling the rat population, rats seem like a pretty dangerous prey. Does anyone know whether cats in Chicago actually eat rats and pigeons? Have you either seen it in person or read a study on it?

  • I have a feral cat colony. I have personally seen one of my cats kill 3 rats over the last year. I've also found 2 dead rats in my yard that were obviously mauled by a predator. They aren't giant poodle sized rats but they aren't babies either. I'd say all of them just smaller than an adult squirrel. She also killed a pigeon so I know she hunts birds too.

  • I've had the misfortune, on several occasions, of seeing feral cats dispatching of rats. I can neither confirm nor deny they fully eat them. I guess it depends on their primary food sources (caregivers/neighbors feeding). Either way, they definitely hunt them. I'd hate to think of them eating them with the horrible effects of rat poison and all. I sometimes see the impact of rat poison on squirrels. It's devastating.

  • C. M. D. Avondale Triangle resident

    Again, my experience is just anecdotal, but the feral colony we had in our neighborhood would kill small rats and mice and leave them as "gifts" rather than eating them.

  • B sighthound, Avondale/LoganS 3years, Beat 2524

    Thanks poopyboy for a great thread. Also thanks to the feral minions for your offering of dead rats ( I will gladly put them in the trash for you).

  • Petra Z Tomatoes!

    As a non-cat lover, I wanted to hate this thread but I found it absolutely fascinating. Thank you!

  • meanboss I just can't even anymore.

    I never knew about this before. Glad I checked Everyblock this morning. Super interesting!

  • Elise Doody-Jones Logan Square Resident

    We used to have a "Cat Lady" on the block. Dozens of cats every where. Wish we knew about trap and release then. When she moved she took most of her cats with her. Our rat problem has exploded ever since. No amount of baiting cures the problem.
    Bring back the "Cat Lady". Rather have stray cats than rats, so thank you for keeping a healthy catch and release program going.

  • abetterparkforall currently pissed off and irritated

    Poppyboy or anyone else for that matter, I am available to help in your petsitting situations. I am a court reporter by trade, now, but I used to work for several veterinarians, including the Clyborn Vet Emergency, and I had my own pet sitting business for quite a few years. If anyone gets in a situation where they need a pet sitter, give me a call. I'm not asking for money, I just know what it's like to try to find quality pet care and I'd be happy to help with the cat colony as well. I helped maintain one in the past, so, contact me if any of you ever has a need.

  • C.M.D. just ran across this thread..there are some unemployed cats that could help you with the rats

    SoccerMom..if you click on the link you will see the pictured cat is sporting an ear notch/tip

  • C. M. D. Avondale Triangle resident

    Thanks! Tree house has a shelter down the street from me, I may contact them. We have a big ginge tom who's been coming around and we've been leaving out....well, I'll call them bribes, that's what they are. My sister in law is no longer in the area, but if I can get him to hang around, he will be a neutered tomcat.

  • C.M.D... Tree House has two in Uptown and one at North/Ashland..if you are still in Avondale you may be thinking of another shelter..but they are a great resource for TNR info, TNR help, trap loans, working cats, low cost spay/neutering all over the city

    Hope that Tom hangs around/can be trapped for neutering soon . Thanks for caring!

  • PM me if you need help trapping. It is very rewarding.

  • Cat Wrangler happy Humboldt Park resident

    Hi Poppyboy.
    I'd be glad to help. You can contact me at

  • Thanks for doing this. Helps keep shelters from getting overcrowded and controls the ridiculous rodent population.

  • Hi, not trying to get involved in the politics on this one. We are missing our cat so please keep an eye out. Here's the post He is friendly and may wander into someone's house or garage. He has a blue collar with yellow and silver tags, one reads "I go outside". He is microchipped # 0a1256297c. We will never make the mistake of letting him out again if we get our baby back. Any info would be very appreciated. We will reward anyone who brings him home! Thanks for any help!

  • oscar was found. (came home).

  • Sorry, I think I must've only hit preview and didn't add this comment yesterday. HE CAME HOME!!!!! We put a litter box, food and water out and he returned on the porch. We had been out combing the neighborhoods calling for him all morning. There are no visible health concerns, but we're gonna take him to the vet to make sure. He will be grounded to the house indefinitely. No more city roaming for this cat! My nerves can't handle it! HARD LESSON LEARNED! Thank you for sharing and putting the word out!

  • how do you feed the cats without also feeding rats and squirrels?

  • Cat Wrangler happy Humboldt Park resident

    I've never had a problem with this. I make sure the cats see me putting out the food, and then I leave the area for maybe a half-hour. When I return to the feeding station, the food is all gone and there are some happy cats nearby licking their paws. I have never seen any rats or squirrels eating the cat food.

  • thanks for the info

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