Saturday, December 19, 2009


First, the good news. Paul's eye is much improved. Looks like it probably isn't a tumor and the inflammation is decreasing. His lense is being reabsorbed without too much difficulty. His medication has decreased to once a day. He's playful, friendly and very curious. He doesn't like doors of any kind, on a crate or in the bathroom. He purrs up a storm and loves to be cuddled and played with. The rest of the story is the reason why I've skipped 3 days of writing. Too much. We've lost kitties. We have 5 kitties left, 4 here, one at foster (one died at foster too). One of the ones we have, Isabelle, has been battling her URI and is getting intensive care. She gets her oral and nasal antibiotics, she's tented in a cage and vaporized 3 x a day. Today, she's finally getting better. We added colostrum that we add to water and syringe feed. She's gotten about 2 oz today and it's made a great difference. She'd quit eating so it serves as nutrition and an immune boost. Peter is a bit punk, not gaining much weight and still shy. Another, a long haired grey tabby we've yet to name, is going strong, playing and eating, gaining weight, but still shy. 2 died during the night on Tuesday, one at the vet on Wednesday, and 2 died yesterday. Three had similar symptoms, 2 had different symptoms, even than each other. We're still unsure what killed them but believe it was a combination of things, their URI's, depleted immune systems and for some, possible panlucopenia. The last one, yesterday, was fine at 9am, and gone by 5pm - no vomit, no diarrhea fine in the am, then gone by 5pm. One of the symptoms shared by 4 of the ones that died is that their body temperature cools. Once a cats body temp goes cool, there's not much that can be done. As hard as this is to hear, imagine how hard it is to experience. The cat we had tested at the vet had no nutriphils, one of the bacteria fighting cells. We returned to Henry's Friday. We took the 4- 6 week old kitties - sorry we didn't get pictures, they were adorable. Long hair fuzzy kitties, 3 female, 1 male, pretty wild but because they're young, they should socialize fairly easy. They went from Henry's to Elmhurst Animal Care (EAC) for their vaccines, Frontline, and one got a Feline Leukemia test. Our Outreach Director, Janet P, found a home for them at CatNap, where they went from EAC this morning. We learned that another litter had been born about Thanksgiving. Out of 3, one tiny 2 week old remained. Her mouth and nose were red, she was missing a toe, she had scratches and small wounds all over, in addition to being overrun with fleas. The vet said she still had a lot of spunk so our wonderful volunteer and now foster mom, Kallie took her and her supplies home to feed, express and lovingly care for. Little one has 3 people caring for her (we think) round the clock. She's had a rough life. Henry rescued her from the house cats when they were throwing her around between them. He put it in the carrier before we got there. One of her siblings had no legs. Henry didn't know if it was a birth defect or if the cats ate the legs. I don't know if it's true but I've heard sometimes the dad kills kittens to encourage cats to have more little ones. I also wonder if, when living in crowded situations, they might kill the young, more volnerable ones. We're going to trap the remaining cats. Five will be returned to Henry after their surgeries, vaccines, and wellness checks and/or meds. The fate of the others is still unknown. With so many variables, healthy, sick, low funds, no place for them to go, there are decisions to be made. Each cat has to be trapped, evaluated and vetted. We are going to try to save as many as we can. We have more leeway with the project. Now that so many are out and we're helping, Henry is feeling less anxious. As hard as this has been, the next phase I think, will be harder. As I've said before, Henry is not a bad man. When his wife first started bringing cats into the house, he was getting them sterilized - the whole thing just got to be too much for him. A wife with Alzheimer's and a son with rage issues strong enough for institutionalization. He wants what's best for the cats he loves and cares for, he just needs his life back - at 89, the sooner, the better. If you'd like to be part of the team to help the house cats, please contact us by email or comment. We need all the help we can get. Of course, we always need more money, foster homes, adopters, sponsors too. If you have a couple of house cats, why not one more? We'll help with incorporating with your current babies and wouldn't adopt out sick cats to homes with healthy cats. Give a cat a home for the holidays sorry, blog won't let me post photos!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Henry's Cats - To foster

These babies are going to foster tomorrow! Meghan and Al are wonderful kitty people. Won't be long and they'll be ready for adoption. They are 2 of the friendlier of the bunch - still scared but not as much some of the others. We still have plenty available for foster. We provide all necessary food and crates, etc. WE NEED MORE FOSTER HOMES - PLEASSSSSSSSSSSSSE I spoke to Henry today. He's in the midst of a huge change of life. Two weeks before we met, he'd gotten into a car accident. His fault. His foot slipped off the pedal. He and another driver went to the hospital. He's since gone to court and lost his license. Today, he took his bicycle to get groceries. It was mild - tomorrow it won't be. So, we deal with the cats and leave him to be? I don't think so. I'm calling the Health Commissioner of his municipality, the woman who originally called us, to see if they have some sort of senior services that assist in their area. Back to the cats. All the house kitties are about the same. Still either friendly or shy, sickish or getting healthier. Mike, one of our new volunteers involved in this project found out about Z today. Not an easy thing to tell a new volunteer who, the last time he saw Z held him in his arms while he purred and nuzzled. He, Mike, has been wonderful with the kitties and is greatly responsible for a lot of their care. We're still giving doxycycline for their URI's. Most are relatively easy to medicate. 3 are difficult and 2 we can only give in food. One of them quit eating canned and we're having to feed in a pureed chicken and Prowl (see for info) mixture. (We have it for one of our other kitties - Binka, who has an enlarged heart and liver and digestive problems so is on a special diet - a cutie who we're hoping will grow into her enlarged organs). We're investigating a mushroom mixture to help boost their immune systems and combat the viral issues. ............We're due to see Henry on Thursday. He said there are 4 (not 3) little ones, born Nov 5, that are now running around. It's too early to take them from mom but we're hoping to evaluate their medical condition and possibly take mom and the babies for a couple weeks, then return mom. She's one of 3 we're planning to leave there. I say hoping because they hide behind a pile (the only inaccessible place in the house but for between the walls) and we're hoping they come out.... maybe we can lure them with oily tuna. Not looking forward to Thursday, the stench, the situation. The inventory. Still no place for the cats in the house. 16 cats need a home and that doesn't include the 10 kittens we have. Thank those of you who have donated money towards this project. It really helps and we most certainly appreciate it - in these tough economic times, donations are even more appreciated. We haven't even come close to covering cost so any money sent this way is welcome.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Henry's Cats - And then there were 10

Sadly, we lost Z Saturday. He left feeling loved and in comfort. In the days prior to his passing he received and responded to a lot of love, it was beautiful. He loved being held, didn't even need to be petted, he just loved laying in someone's arms where he purred and nuzzled. His eyes looked better than he had in days but he just couldn't fight the infection. Its one of the rough parts of rescue, loosing them. We understand it's part of life. THe fact that these cats came out of such a sick home, if we save 1/2 of them, it's better than their previous fate. But it's hard. Neither of the photos picture Z - the red is Paul and the greys (yet unnamed - suggestions?) are 2 of the almost socialized and healthy ones. Gladly, a lot of the kitties are doing really well. They're learning how to play, responding to their meds and a routine is settling in. Playtime in the bathroom that now houses the cat tower - metal frame about 4 ' high, surrounded by netting with hammocks in the middle for extra fun. Some, like Paul, Peter, Emma, Cat # 3, 5, 7 (we haven't named them all yet). Others just sit and watch, like they're back in their cages but more of them are learning how to play all the time. Their coats are much healthier already and hey've all put on weight. Paul has his next visit with the ophthalmologist Dec 18. Where his lense should be is a pale mass encased in vessels. It could be due to a ruptured, necrotic lens being reabsorbed, or a congenital malformation of the lense or, unlikely, an intra ocular tumor. He's on opthalmic prednizone for the inflammation - we're hoping for the best. He's a sweetie. THe friendliest and most playful of the bunch. Depending on the outcome of the visit, he's ready for adoption. We'll post here and on our petfinder account. This picture is a few days old, he looks even better now. His picture is at the top of the page. Some of the kitties are taking longer to recover from their URI infection. 5 out of the 11 are really shy and 3 of them are questionable for socialization............. if they aren't socialized, then what. Emergency volunteer hours are needed to get these cats socialized. Volunteers can come as little as often as abailable, scheduling is a must tho. - no drop in's please. We'll be going to Henry's (sorry can't take it out of 'bold') this week to inventory for age, temperment, description to see if any are able to be socialized and adopted. Still no word on placement. No one has stepped up to volunteer to take any of the feral type house cats. We're having a difficult time thinking about what's going to have to happen if no one comes forward. Decisions and end dates are going to be set soon. Writing to one of the volunteers who's going to accompany me to the house, I spoke of deadline, end date. Never have those words been as appropriate and horrid.

Henry's Cats

Another part of working with the kitties is really crappy.............. as in litter, and lots of it! They are a lot of work. Changing and filing water and food bowls, changing bedding, sweeping and washing the crates, changing and cleaning the litter boxes, cleaning the litter boxes and dishes, clearing and cleaning the playroom after each session. Times 11. This is about a 3 hour job. Meds are 2 or 3 times a day. Vaccines, de-worming, de-fleaing, topical application for sores. During the day, pans are cleaned as needed, as are water bowls, and any litter on the floor messes, sometimes, mixed with water - mmmmmmmmmm. Nice clay. Then there's placement. Where can these kitties go? Calls, emails and inquiries trying to find foster homes. People willing to take them, care for them, socialize and love them. Checking with shelters for placement or fosters. Then, when we are fortunate to find someone to agree to homing, socializing and caring for one or 2 of Henry's babies, there's training and prep and packing for the move. Then there's the paper work keeping track of them all, the visits to the vet, the wonderful 'kitty buddies' that come to help socialize the newly formed team to help care for Henry's cats. As I've stated before, we're a TNR group. Our specialty is working with cats living in the streets, to help get them sterilized and cared for. To help people who feed the cats take care of the cats. We aren't equipped to care for these or any kitties............. but we do, because no one else will, but I digress. This is only the kitties. There are still 16 cats and 3 young kittens at Henry's. We've yet to find homes for them. A home for them is a place that will take them in, let them live there, care for them. The cat may or may not become friendly. They won't attack. They're use to having people around but they haven't had much individual attention. A yard would be considered if the conditions were right. A heated garage, to come and go. Good food, TNR, vetting as necessary.......... the relocation process essentially means they have to be confined in a space (to be discussed, not a crate) at their new home for 4-6 weeks before they're let out. If cats are just moved to an outdoor shelter, they bolt in search of 'home' and live miserable lost lives. Colonies are well established and not always welcoming. If you have a good home you'd like to offer, please contact us asap. Like those that have yard cats, that can't touch them, they love them anyway. We'll be putting a deadline on the house cats soon. Henry needs them gone. We have no place for them. We do have 2 kittens going to foster care tomorrow, 2 on Tuesday and we heard back from Treehouse, they are having their biggest event of the year this weekend. THe admissions committee will review our request to take some of the kittys next week. We requested they take Peter, Paul & Z, plus Emma, Earl Grey and Ellie. The 'eye' boys, because Treehouse is better able to care for their needs and Treehouse cares for cats and the three grey/grey tabbys because they're at a crucial time in their socialization. They're really skiddish and need more individual TLC if they're going to be adoptable - because if they're not................................. then what. We need volunteers until the kitties are all placed!!!!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Peter, Paul & Z, Henry's Cats

We pulled (took the kittens to their new temporary home) the kittens on our 4th visit there. On our 3rd visit, Henry said he found a dead kitten (a 3 week old) in the hall. He reached into a closet and took out plastic bag that contained the dead kitten. It was in a state of decay. He said he use to bury them but can’t anymore – he’s tired and weakened by 89 years of a hard life. Remember, his wife, the woman who brought the cats in, was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s , for years before she went into a care center. We took the cat. Put it into the trunk and buried it. The smell stays in your nose for hours. On our second visit, in addition to extra litter boxes and water bowls, we brought cat toys. Most didn’t know what to do with them.

There are 3 remaining kittens , born Nov 5, who are staying until they’re are 8 weeks old. We’d pull them but there’s no place for them and the mom to go. Sad, it’s a sick house. Not just because of the urine but because of what has to be, dead cats in the walls. Cats often go to dark secluded places to die. We’ve seen them enter through a crawl space. Not to mention the Herpes /URI infections that effects the entire household. But there’s no place to go. Which is the real reason most people don’t want to deal with hoarders. Because there’s no place for the cats to go. Because some of the cats have to be killed as a result. Because we’re in this to save cats, not kill them.

Someone wanted 7 cats, 2 for her and 5 for her friend. I told her about the relocation process and I haven’t heard back from her. I also asked if she might be willing to pay the clinic fee of $26 per cat……. Said it wasn’t mandatory – that we were appreciative she’d take the cats.

We’re applying to get some of them admitted to TreeHouse’s foster/adoption progra m. We’re waiting to hear from CatNap who said they’d help. Animal Care League said they didn’t have room.

The 11 kittens we pulled range in age between about 4 – 6 months. They’ve been with us for about 10 days and they already look much better. They’re putting weight on, their coats are getting a shine and their URI’s are clearing up.

Peter, Paul & Zee, three medium and short hair orange tabbies, soft as a cloud, have terrible eye problems. Peter is blind in his right eye due to a herpes infection that probably happened before they all opened their eyes. Peter has an active herpes ulcer that has eaten away his lense. We’re hoping the ointment will stop the infection and just leave him with a blind eye. Paul has inflammation of the cornea that could be due to genetics, infection or a tumor – we’ll find out next week. So far, their first office visit with the ophthalmologist including meds was $300……. They are sweet. Paul is the most friendly and playful. Z is really warming up. After meds tonight, during lovin time, he relaxed enough to stretch out on my his back so I could pet his belly.

Part of this is great – working with the kitties. Unfortunately, it’s such a small part.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Henry's Cats - Working With an Unintentional Hoarder

Not that we ever left. We have been here there and everywhere tho. The last few months, we've been busy doing TNR, kittens, fundraising, TNR, adoptions, kittens, education, conflict resolution, kittens, TNR, supportive care for seniors, a couple of fund raising and networking parties (our Party Like A Feral was a great hit - watch for it net October in honor of National Feral Cat Day) and now, our first hoarder. It's our hoarder that prompts our revisiting this blog - both as an educational exercise and because it's the face of something rarely addressed by those in rescue because it's ugly and difficult. Not many people want to do it. Many times, with no where to go, cats have to be euthanized. Over the course of the next couple of months, we hope to keep you updated about what actually happens when people have too many cats and are too old to care for them. Our hoarder is a lovely 89 year old man. An unintentional hoarder, with about 30 cats. It started when his wife brought in a number of cats she'd been feeding in the driveway. She's been in a facility for people with Alzheimer's for about a year. When they just had six, Henry (name fictionalized) took them into the vet, one by one. There were 5 females and 1 male. He had the male neutered. Apparently, one of the females was pregnant or he picked up the same cat twice because now there are about 30 cats, not including those that died along the way, to be buried or (I suspect) have died in the crawl space between the walls I've seen them enter. Henry knows he can't do this any more. He called his township, who'd just gotten one of our flyers, and they called us. On our initial assessment, we saw about 7 young cats between the ages 4-6 months old. They were friendly, a few to us and all to Henry. As we sat talking at the kitchen table, they surrounded him. He loves his cats. The house wreaked of urine and spray and something deeper. The house was clean and clear of clutter but any small appliances on the kitchen counter were urine rusted. There was no finish on the lower kitchen cabinets caused by the spray and urine. All furniture was shredded. The carpeting held stains from urine and fecal matter, tho none was observed in the body of the house There was some poop in the basement but considering he only had two litter boxes, the off box poop was limited to a few poops here and there. He cleans the boxes several times a day. The odor hits like a brick wall, then subsides but we can only stay about an hour at a time because then it hits the chest. It's amazing Henry's survived. Most of the cats had Upper Respiratory Infections. A couple had something wrong with their eyeballs (more on that later). There was also a mom with 4 kittens about 2 weeks old in a closet. Our next visit, we brought a number of litter boxes and water bowls and meds for the URI's to be added to their canned food. We were hoping to stage their improved health and slow removal at his house while we found foster homes and places for the feral types at his house. Not so. He called that night to say he couldn't do it. We went in the next day and removed 11 kittens ages 4-6 months old. We left the mom and the 3 week old kittens because we couldn't access them, they'd been moved from the closet, and we left the feral types until we can find a solution, one that rarely exists because there is no place for the cats. We're still looking for a solution and getting medical care, foster homes, adoptors while socializing the kittens. No one likes working with hoarders, it makes TNR look like a walk in the park. More tomorrow.............

Monday, May 4, 2009

Whew and News!

Cat Nap from the Heart of La Grange took all our 'delivered' kitties. 9 beautiful egyptian looking kittens and 2 beautiful mama's. If you're looking for a kitten that's georgeous, sleek and with that look.... Visit CatNap in LaGrange. And, Katrinka, the beautiful Seal Point with striped wiskers, visit Animal Care League of Oak Park, she'll be there on Thursday. We went trapping for a mama (already pregnant) and her 3 little cuties today. Mama moved them so we're starting over. We'll keep you posted! This is Nicki and her kits, Gracie & Cookie. They are all friendly and just waiting for a new home. Give us a call! They also need a sponsor! We got 2 more calls for TNR today. One from a woman who feeds cats about 15 minutes from her home. She's wonderful, she's been taking care of cats since 1991. We TNR'd 8 of these cats last year. One, a white one, was illusive, sometimes there, sometimes not and we didn't get them. She's been attempting for a couple of months, with no luck. The CM talked to a woman who feeds down the block and apparently, the white cat is usually there - along with a few more. They will be TNR'd next week, the 5 kittens from 2 different mom's may come here or go to another rescue who specializes more in adoptions. We like them! The other from a woman north of here who has 3 plus cats and kittens. She and her neighbor share feeding. We're conference calling tomorrow so we can give info to both, saving time! We love people who love their yard cats and who understand the importance of TNR!!!!!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Donate Part of Your Yard Sale Proceeds!

Last year, Jennifer Wolfe of Wolfe Photography in Forest Park donated part of the proceeds of her garage sale to CatVando. Thanks again, Jennifer! This year, think of us when you're having your garage sale. Or if you just want to make a donation, we could really use it. A growing number of our TNR's depend on funding from CatVando. With the increase in Strays and kittens, we're really stretched. Thanks to Chicagoland Stray Cats for their generous donation of $200. It paid for Katrina and 3 of the 2118 Colony cats last week and will cover another 3 this week. 2118 is an example of what we run into. 2118 is comprised of cats that have been multiplying in a house for years, decades, actually. Grandma had cats and kitties too. Every once in awhile, when there were too many in the house they'd open the door or call Animal Control. When Mom died, Daughter let the cats out, unsterilized. Shortly after the cats were left out, she left. So, the cats have been put out with no food. Numbers are unknown. These cats are in an area where 90% of the cats have been TNR'd. It's an area about 4 blocks long and 2 blocks wide. In 2005-6 about 70 cats were TNR'd. Now there are about 30 in that same area - plus the new ones. I've been feeding since I found out, hoping the cats won't spread and can be TNR'd on the spot. The 3 so far were male. When there, I've seen 2 others, both pregnant. Neighbors said, there are a lot of cats but couldn't give actual numbers. We'll be working to round them up with food and trapping for a couple, three weeks or more, then, they will be one of CatVando's sponsored colonies until we can find someone to sponsor them. We'll keep you posted on numbers. Remember, think of us next time you have a barbecue, birthday party, any time people are gathered! We'd love to provide you with a donation jar all about our mission and work at CatVando. We'd be happy to provide a receipt and would love to post your donation on our Blog! Yes We Can - we can ride through these tough economic times and come out the other end better for it! Let work together to solve today's problems.

Today's New Kitties

These babies are new today. Someone delivered them and their friends, another mom with kittens all black or black and white. They're all skinny and a bit scared but friendly. A little good food, some good supplements, and they'll be ready to roll. Actually, they're ready now. We'd let these babies go with a deposit to assure return for spay or neuter and suggestions for proper nutrition to assure a healthy life. They're not even named yet! Mama needs a home too. Someone had to give up their cats and their kittens. You can tell, aside from food, these cats had a lot of love.
More and better photos of both soon.
The advent of new kitties is stretching our coffers! We need donations to cover the cost of these kitties. They all need not just food and supplements, but, deworming, flea treatment, spay/neuter, vaccinations, microchipping - then there's the extra litter and laundry. Oh my! 12 more mouths to feed!

Katrinka is looking for a home.

Here's the beautiful Katrinka. She's a special kitty with quite a history in her short years. We're guessing about 2-3 years old. She was stuck in the attic of a Colony Manager in Maywood. A woman who is the only feeder in an area heavily infested with strays and ferals and gets lots of cats her way. CatVando subsidies her with occassional food and pays for her TNR's. Katrinka spent about a month between her walls before she had to tear a wall open to let her out. She was very skinny. Then suddenly, after she started putting on some weight, she was pregnant. She had 5 little ones in her before last Tuesday. She's very sweet. Kim, I and Darrion fell in love with her right away. At this point, she LOVES being pet but not so much being held. Marci and Animal Care League said she'd never seen striped wiskers like she has. With beautiful light blue eyes, she's listed as a Seal Point. She's part Siamese but doesn't have the yowl of the breed. Not a great pic - will try for better another time. It doesn't show her color, her wiskers or her beautiful blue eyes. She's ready for adoption now. Next Thursday, Animal Care League is taking her to include in their adoption. If you want her, she's ready! Her fee is $75, which includes, spay, distemper & rabies, microchip and she's even ear tipped! If you'd like to come by and see her, give us a call 708 829 6013.

Another Day, Another Surprise

In the world of TNR, things change daily. We work with street cats. We work in an area effected by the economy, who's population is has been effected by the economy long before the effects were felt by others. First, the number of strays, then today, 9 kittens and 2 mama's dropped at our doorstep. Zowza. We can't take in that many kittens without being overloaded. So, in our usual, 'figure it out' manner, we're hoping to enact our foster home in senior residence plan. We'll keep you posted Our Spruce Up continues! Today, Barbara Cole of Maywood Youth Mentoring brought Darrion, David and Kequanis all about 15 years old, to work on CatVando projects. We had a lot of fun with lots o' learning. We moved things around, cleaned traps and carriers, took apart and cleaned the hairy fan. They love the cats - get a bit exuberant but they're learning. Darrion has a great way with animals. He's interested in becoming an animal behaviorist and has already started reading a book he borrowed 'The Cat Who Cried Wolf". So far, Darrion is coming back tomorrow. Kequanis is a good worker and an excellent entertainer, his ability to change his voice and his love of the mike, coupled with his willingness to work is wonderful. David, the newby of the group, adjusted to things pretty well. He's a watchful boy. He steps in slowly. Initially cautious with Bella, our wonderful Belgian German Shephard mix soon won him over and he's the one who took the fan apart, got rid of the hair and cleaned the fan and grill. They really did a lot to help cats today. The Spruce Up Continues! Maywood Youth Mentoring is bringing over kids and their mentors to work on some special projects. The rack is going to be finished. A roof is going to be built and concrete is going to be laid to accomodate the Aftercare Rack. Going to be another big weekend - if you have some extra time, stop by, we can always use the help! Saturday 10-3pm. And/Or, bring food - hungry teenagers need lots of fuel! And Kequanis, who also does lay down on the job

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The New Face of TNR

More Strays, Faster Pregnancies
seems to be the way it's going with our TNR this spring.
So far we've spayed 2 mamas with 5 & 6 week old kitties. Both were pregnant already, while still nursing. That's frightening!
We're trapping more strays this year than in the past. It's one of the delimas of TNR. It's always been our belief that if a cat has a good feeder, someone who has their cats TNR'd and provides food, water and shelter while monitoring the colony for new cats or medical needs, that that cat is pretty lucky. However, when there's a recent release who's sweet, scared, and used to being a pet, the lines get blurred. Not being a shelter, we can't house the cats for any length of time. We have fosters that will do temporary care but with the number of strays we're finding. Shelters are besieged with people giving up their cats and dogs and often can't take another. Many of the areas we cover have been heavily effected by the economy, release of pets is unfortunately, inevitable. If you have a solution to offer, please do.
Out of 5 cats last week, 3 were pregnant, 15 kittens were prevented. One of the mom's, with 6 in her belly was still nursing 2-6 week olds. Two out of 5 cats today were friendly strays.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Spectacular Spruce Up - date

What an incredible weekend! A wonderful outpouring of energy, hard work, friendships forged, similarities shared and lots and lots got done. We had about 10 people each day, some of hours and a couple for both days. It's amazing how much we got done. No pictures now - waiting for the before and after but here's a glimpse of the weekend's events. The first to arrive at about 9:30am were Chuck and three students from Lane Tech. They came for Ellen's Winnebago. It's going to be a Lane Tech student project! Unfortunately, Ellen doesn't get it back all spruced up and road ready ..... but it's going to a good place for it's new life. In trade for the Winnie, Chuck and the boys (sorry guys, I don't remember all your names), moved all the lumber and limestone tiles for the cat houses from the driveway to their new home. They did a great job. Remember Chuck, I want a photo of the finished product! Candy then Christina arrived next and started working on getting the crates ready for kitties. Clean, sanitize, then attach 1" fencing so the kits don't get out of the bars. Linda started when Candy left and she and Christina did a great job finishing 4 crates. Good thing. A mama and a 6 week old kitten arrived the next day and now occupies one of them. Thank You Candy, Christina & Linda!!! Nice to have a fail safe place for the kitties! Can't remember the time frame of who came next but suddenly there were people taking on projects and getting things done. It was great, everyone worked independently and as teams. Some had met before, some not. Sue, holy mackeral, Sue is a powerhouse; she took charge of the back porch project. She started about 11am and worked until 9pm. Then came back the next day and worked another 6-7 hours. She took on the project with relish. The porch was cleared, walls and ceilings were vacummed, primered and painted. Janet joined in on Sunday adding her flair to trim. It was fun picking colors from all the donated paint. Barbara brought 2 of the kids from Maywood Youth Mentoring, Darrian & Kquanis joined in the clearing, cleaning and vaccumig. Barbara brought food too. Elaine had the worst job of the day, rolling paint on an extension from a ladder in a stairwell on a wall with paint peeling off on the roller. Sorry Elaine, I know how frustrating that was - still haven't figured it out but I think the trick is in the sealant too. Ah, there's always mulch (last year, Elaine helped move a huge pile of mulch)! The room looks fabulous. I laid the vinyl today. It's amazing how well it goes with the multi-color room colors. All the paint was donated by Karen, Georgia & Ellen . Jeanne & Linda preped a piece porch furniture for paint. Jeanne painted it a beautiful shade of green. T painted an old enamel topped cabinet the same green then went on to paint an old metal cabinet in 'camoflage' - it looks so cool. The Cat Man came and lent a lot of great tools and painting supplies and helped Kquanis and Darrian tighten the aftercare rack, then K & D primered it. Sheila (who held a kitty for the first time in her long life heald a CatVando kitten last fall and loved it. Quite the cat woman now, since falling in love and sharing gleeful stories about her 2 yard cats) She ripped sheets for traps - we use a lot when trapping. We get sheets donated by Animal Care League and sometimes CatNap from the Heart and they need to be torn by the dozens. Eric did sheets for awhile and even Kelly took a turn with them. Darrian came back Sunday and was a tremendous help filling in wherever he was needed whether it was playing with Bella or bringing things and messages from room to room or filing in on a project or helping lift. He made lunch! The first meal he ever prepared. We had beans with cheese, salsa, cilantro and sour cream and he put it together. It was excellent! Kim brought delicious roll ups on Saturday and worked for a couple of hours. Her huge contribution was during Pre-Spruce Up, Spruce Up. Kim is wonderful - not only incredible with the critters (Bella loves her so much her eyes almost drool) but she understands the complexities of running CatVando out of a home and is always there doing things I ask and doing things she sees need doing. She was back on Tuesday, played with the critters, vacummed and straightened. She's definately one of the spirits of CatVando. I, Ellen, worked here and there, painted a bit on both porches, worked projects, answered questions, took pictures, even painted with Sue until 9pm, and took wonder in the events and changes. It was pretty great. Thank you all for being here, for taking time, for working so hard and so communially. BRAVO!! THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And, You ALL ARE GOING SAILING! Watch for dates and times to pick from. And... the Spruce Up continues. CatVando is expanding at a rapid rate. Cat populations are expanding at an alarming rate. Because of the economy, cats are being abandoned at increased rates, most unsteralized rapidly adding to the already high numbers. Some communities are more saturated than ever but all communities are experiencing an increase. Education is becoming almost equally as important as TNR with the community, the feeders and municipalities. TNR is at it's best when it's community-based, when everyone's on board and understands it's effectiveness and how the whole thing works. At this point, there's a lot of misinformation that needs to be clarified. So........ we're busy with more than TNR & Kitties & Adoptions these days. We're dealing directly with municipalities and you know how much red tape that can involve! Plus, our wonderful VA Hines Project.
The Spruce Up Continues!!!!
Sundays May 3, 10th (Mothers Day), and 24th
11am - 5ish
Lunch at 1pm
Bring friends
Join us for a couple hours or a couple Sundays
just email or call
708 829 6013
Love to All

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Big News! Really Really Big News!

Really Really Really Big News!!!! We are so proud to announce our news! CatVando, Animal Care League and Hines VA Hospital are partnering in a Community-Based TNR program an a program where Veterans build and maintain 'cat houses' to help the cats on the campus of the VA Hospital. We are sooooooooooo excited and proud to be part of this project. More on the history and doings of 'The Cat House Project' (ya gotta love it!) later. I've got to get busy. We're having a Cat Vando Spruce Up this weekend and have to spruce up for the spruce up, gather tools, clear space, etc.
Join Us!
CatVando's Spruce Up
April 18-19
10-3 or thereabouts Saturday and Sunday
bring tools, extra paint, lumber and munchies
we'll provide Yerba Mate ice tea & Limeade
lots of natcho's with beans, cheese and salsa
Campfire Weenie Roast
Saturday late afternoon
bring something to roast over an open fire
We'll provide roasted potatoes
And as a treat for you! A chance to win a
Sunday Sail on Lake Michigan
One hour's work is one chance.
1 hour = 1 chance
9 hours = 9 chances
5 Lucky Winners!
P L E A S E - RSVP - P L E A S E
email to plug into Project List

Monday, March 23, 2009

Green Your House for your Pet's Sake!

  • Last year, the ASPCA received more than 3,200 calls related to household cleaners.
  • Companion cats and dogs are polluted with even higher levels of many of the same synthetic indisutrial chemicals that researchers have recently found in people, including newborns.
  • Health problems in pets span high rates of cancer in dogs and skyrocketing incidence of hyperthyroidism in cats

Learn what you can do to help protect your critters (and yourself!)

Sunday, March 29


Animal Care League

1013 Garfield - Oak Park

Monday, March 9, 2009

CatVando at ACL's 2nd Chance Shop

Ellen Miles will be at Animal Care League's 2nd Chance Shop, 159 S. Oak Park Avenue, Oak Park on Saturday, March 21, noon to 4pm to give overview and answer questions about street cats. What's a feral? What to do if you have street cats? What to do if you're feeding an outside cat. The importance and benefits of TNR (Trap Neuter Return) and street cat care.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Our TNR Season is Starting Soon!

TNR Season is just around the corner!
If you have yard cats, email ( so we can get you on the list. At this point, we have 3 colonies and a couple of individual cats already on the list.
If you think one of your cats is in early pregnancy, be sure and contact us soon.
Weather dependant, we will be starting late March, early April. Males can be TNR'd now. Females have their bellies shaved, leaving them exposed to the elements and even tho we risk kitties being born, we wait until the weather clears a bit.
We're always looking for volunteers and foster homes for the kittens that are an ever present part of TNR.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Hairy Cleanup

OK, so this isn't about TNR or cats per se, but it is about us, including our critters, working together to help save other critters. Our own Stephanie Skrine shared an article from her groomers magazine that affords a great way for us all, including our critters, to help clean up some of the oil spills that are wrecking havoc with marine and fowl life.One square foot of hair mat a half inch thick can collect one quart of oil in one minute!Hair stylist, Phil McCrory has teamed up with Matter of Trust, an ecological public charity, to form the Hair Mats Program. Hair is boxed up and sent to San Francisco.I've gotten hair from a groomer and know how heavy it can be, which would make shipping prohibitive for most groomers. Maybe the owners can pay an extra few bucks to have their critters hair sent to help other critters - I know I gave her a little of the hair I'd saved from my creatures since passed, just to have them be part of helping out. I'm sure the hair I get when I brush Bella would soak up several quarts a year.To learn more about the Hair Mats Program, visit

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Coco Mulch (A Killer!)

This is an article I found on a site listed below. With spring soon to arrive, we'll be sprucing up our yards - when choosing a mulch - read below for warning about: Cocoa Mulch ( a killer) Over the weekend the doting owner of two young lab mixes purchased Cocoa Mulch from Target to use in their garden. They loved the way it smelled and it was advertised to keep cats away from their garden. Their dog Calypso decided that the mulch smelled good enough to eat and devoured a large helping. She vomited a few times which was typical when she eats something new but wasn't acting lethargic in any way. The next day, Mom woke up and took Calypso out for her morning walk . Half way through the walk, she had a seizure and died instantly.Although the mulch had NO warnings printed on the label, upon further investigation on the company's website, this product is HIGHLY toxic to dogs and cats.Cocoa Mulch is manufactured by Hershey's, and they claim that 'It is true that studies have shown that 50% of the dogs that eat Cocoa Mulch can suffer physical harm to a variety of degrees (depending on each individual dog). However, 98% of all dogs won't eat it.'This Snopes site gives the following information: Mulch, which is sold by Home Depot, Foreman's Garden Supply and other Garden supply stores, contains a lethal ingredient called ' Theobromine' . It is lethal to dogs and cats. It smells like chocolate and it really attracts dogs. They will ingest this stuff and die. Several deaths already occurred in the last 2-3 weeks. Theobromine is in all chocolate, especially dark or baker's chocolate which is toxic to dogs. Cocoa bean shells contain potentially toxic quantities of th eobromine, a xanthine compound similar in effects to caffei n e and theophylline. A dog that ingested a lethal quantity of garden mulch made from cacao bean shells developed severe convulsions and died 17 hours later. Analysis of the stomach contents and the ingested cacao bean shells revealed the presence of lethal amounts of theobromine. Posted by Colleen Del Bane~It's All about Pets Creator~ on February 12, 2009 at 11:16am in Animal Care Advice Back to Animal Care Advice Discussions A great site all about animals. To join go to:

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Flea Products, Toxicity & Health

Flea Products, Household Products, Pet Products and Toys all have the potential to harm you, your animals and your kids. Many people do not realize that dozens of cleaning and personal care products they purchase at their local grocery store contain harmful chemical ingredients. Or, how toxic flea collars and pet products can be and they can effect not just the animal but you and your family. Animals are more sensitive to hazardous chemicals for a number of reasons. Most volatile chemicals eventually end up on the floor - that means they breathe them, absorb them through their paws and skin and they ingest them every time they groom themselves. Like people, cancer rates among cats and dogs is rising - 47% of all cats and dogs now die of cancer. Below is an article about household toxins - it addresses people but can be applied to your pets. Below that is a link specific to the hazards of flea collars. At CatVando, we take care to use safe products, not only for the animals temporarily within our care but for all critters and life everywhere. Unfortunately, we do have to use bleach in some cases but are searching for a safe alternative. To support environmental safety one of our fundraisers is marketing wellness products - it's a fundraiser that benefits everyone. or We also take care with what we feed our kittens and cats. We believe that good nutrition and using supplementing for specific issues when necessary, is the best way to insure the healthiest cat possible. Most of our kitty food is from Sirius Cooks in Oak Park. We'd love to use Orijen, a wonderful grain free food, which is what we feed our 3 house cats, but we use Burns, also a good food. We often use probiotics after spay/neuter surgery or a round of antibiotics to regain natural flora to enhance the digestive and immune system. For allergies or skin problems, we might use EFA's and/or grapeseed extract, depending on the issue - all high quality. We always work with agreement from our vets and try to prevent health issues and work towards building health not masking problems. And now for the article: Most Common Household Toxins By Dr. Ben Kim on May 28, 2006 yahooBuzzArticleHeadline = "Most Common Household Toxins"; yahooBuzzArticleCategory = "Health"; yahooBuzzArticleId = window.location.href; --> Exposure to household toxins is linked to just about every disease that we know of, most notably cancer. Numerous animal studies have linked many of the more than 24,000 toxins that exist in our environment to negative health effects on the following systems: Cardiovascular Nervous Endocrine Respiratory Reproductive Immune Many household toxins have also been linked to mental and physical developmental problems in children. Because we are unable to feel, see, smell, or taste many household toxins at first contact, it is important to be aware of the most common household toxins and to proactively take measures to prevent or reduce our exposure to them. The most common household toxins are as follows: Triclosan: an antibacterial agent that is chemically similar to the dioxin class of compounds. Linked to: immune system and endocrine system dysfunction. Most commonly found in: many liquid soaps and in some deodorants, toothpastes, cosmetics, kitchenware, and children's toys. Phthalates: large phthalates are chemicals that are added to plastics to impart resilience and flexibility. Smaller phthalates are used to prolong the length of time that a scented product maintains its fragrance. Linked to: endocrine, reproductive, and developmental problems. Most commonly found in: vinyl flooring, plastic food packaging, plastic bags, plastic clothing, detergents, children's toys, shower curtains, and personal care products like soap, shampoo, nail polish, and hair spray. Bisphenol A: used in epoxy resins that line some metal cans, and to make polycarbonate plastics utilized in a variety of food containers and baby products. Linked to: endocrine problems. Most commonly found in: food and drink containers, baby bottles, teethers, toys, metal food cans, and dental sealants used to prevent cavities. Carbon monoxide: formed from incomplete combustion of fuel. Carbon monoxide decreases delivery of oxygen to cells. Linked to: cardiovascular and nervous system failure. Most commonly produced by: leaking furnaces and chimneys, gas stoves, wood stoves and fireplaces, back-drafting from gas water heaters, and auto exhaust from an attached garage or nearby traffic. Perfluorinated chemicals: used to make stain-repellents and non-stick surfaces. Linked to: many different types of cancer and developmental problems in children. Most commonly found in: teflon-coated cookware, microwave popcorn bags, and stain-guarded clothing, furniture, and carpets. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs): chemicals that are released into the air as gases. Linked to: reproductive, respiratory, neurological, and developmental problems. Also linked to different types of cancer. Most commonly found in: air fresheners, hair spray, perfumes, cleaning products, paints, carpets, and furniture made out of pressed wood. Radon: odorless gas that forms as uranium in rocks and soil breaks down. Linked to: lung cancer. Most commonly found in: confined spaces, the most common of which are poorly ventilated basements that have cracked walls and/or floors. Lead: a heavy metal that can build up in our tissues. Linked to: cancer, neurological dysfunction, hormonal imbalances, reproductive problems, and developmental problems in children. Most commonly found in: lead plumbing pipes found in older homes, lead-based paint, crystal tableware, and some varieties of imported mini-blinds. Pesticides and herbicides: linked to problems with the nervous system, and possibly a risk factor for cancer, developmental challenges, and reproductive problems. Most commonly found in: non-organic food supply, non-organic farming regions, and non-organic landscaped areas that are well maintained. Although we are all at risk of experiencing health problems due to exposure to the household toxins listed above, particularly worrisome are the effects that these toxins may have on babies growing in their mothers' wombs. A study conducted in 2004 by the Environmental Working Group found that umbilical cord blood from 10 newborns contained chemicals used in consumer products, pesticides, and by-products from gasoline, garbage, and the burning of coal. On average, the blood from each newborn contained 200 industrial pollutants and chemicals. Of the 287 toxins that were found in the newborns' blood, 180 are known to cause cancer in humans or animals, 217 are known to be toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 are known to cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests. I think it's important not to become obsessed with living in a way that minimizes exposure to household and other toxins. I firmly believe that such an obsession can quite possibly become an emotional stressor that creates more of a negative impact on our health than toxins themselves. Still, within the context of living emotionally balanced lives, we can significantly lower our risk of developing many different types of chronic disease by doing our best to avoid the most common sources of the toxins listed in this article. A link to toxin levels found in pets higher than in humans The link to the hazards of flea products on pets and people Next time you wash your floor or spray that freshner - think - there may be a healthier alternative, and if you choose our fundraising alternative, it could even be cheaper!

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Our kittens are ready to go!!!! We need to clear space for the next batch and we need a break to regroup before spring TNR starts. We are mainly a TNR group, after all......
Our wonderful kitties all come spayed or neutered, with vaccinations & a microchip. They're flea and parasite free. They're all dog and cat friendly. They all purr with glee, play and cuddle - each has a wonderful, unique personality.
Alice & Archie 2 cutie patooties. Sweet, playful, affectionate. Both born in September in Berwyn, been here since about 7 weeks old. Dependent and independent. They love human affection and play but are comfortable playing and hanging together. Wonderful companions for you and for each other.

Pecko & Earline Grey

These babies came from the yard of a wonderful caregiver. A couple in their '80's feed a colony and have devoted their enclosed patio to their cats, who are free to go in and out but have canned and kibble 2x a day. We met them this summer when we TNR'd their colony - lovely people who take really good care of their 'yard cats'.

Both females, born in June, are wonderfully friendly. And, of course, very cuddly, affectionate and playful. Sisters, they're being adopted as a pair.

Then There's Vito!!!! Everybody that meets him falls in love with him. He is incredibly engaging. Absolutely gorgeous with a wonderful personality. Vito gets along great with other cats but he's primarily a 'people' cat. One of 3 that could be 'circus cats' they're so smart. (His brother, Hustus and sister, Margo, were recently adopted into a wonderful new home) Vito naturally gravitates to shoulders where he's learning to balance quite well during walking. He's looking for a home where he'll get to give and get a lot of love. Someplace where someones around about 75% of the time. He looks like a Maine Coon and feels like a Chinchilla.

To inquire about any of these kitties for adoption please comment and we'll get back to you. We're located in Maywood, IL, near Chicago.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

TNR in the Winter

We don't do TNR during the Winter Months unless it's for inside ferals or male cats. A term we'll define at another date but for now, I'll explain why we don't do winter TNR. It's a matter of choice, some groups do, we've chosen not to. When spaying a female, their bellies are shaved. We usually hold her for 2 days after surgery for aftercare then return her to her home territory. During winter months, those shaved bellies expose bare skin to snow and the elements, leaving the cat more susceptible to the cold and illness without their usual fur for insulation. It usually takes 2-3 months for the hair to return. Much as we want to avoid spring kittens, our concern for the welfare of the female takes precedence. If you do have yard cats that are in need of TNR, and are in our area (within about 10 miles of Maywood IL) email us at, to make arrangements for when the weather permits - usually very early spring. If you're outside our area, just google TNR in your area or ask your local shelters for a reference.

Check Your Salt!

Use Safe Salt rather than the usual type Sold under many brands, safe salt is salt that will melt the ice without drying up cats tender paws during the winter months. It's more expensive but you don't use as much. Regular salt harms the cats paws. They dry out, then crack and become infected and very painful! Bad enough that most people use the regular stuff but if you have yard cats, switch to the safe stuff. I get it at Walgreens for about $8. I've seen the same size at a local pet chain for $16