Have you seen DuPage County Animal Services recently? Nope, no bomb went off, but changes are occurring rapidly. Click on this link and watch the YouTube video by Brian Krajewski, Chairman of DuPage County Animal Services Committee to find out what changes are coming.
Feral Fixers cannot wait for the completion of construction! They will be able to house more animals, increase adoptions, do more surgeries for Feral Fixers, improve the lives of animals all over DuPage! So glad to share this summary of the changes coming!
Lack Of Surgeries vs Weather
Never realized how much we count on the weather to keep the numbers of outside cats down. There is an enormous number of kittens expected while our access to spay/neuter has been reduced. We don’t usually kick into high gear until end of March at the earliest. There has been no reduction of calls this Winter. Unfortunately, we cannot return females with shaved tummies back outside, both sexes with vaccinations and therefore reduced immune systems, until the temperatures are reliably above freezing overnight. We cannot do more harm than good.
We are watching the weather closely, while working to get spay/neuter slots. Everyone is in the same boat. Veterinarians are burning out, switching fields, surgery space is limited.
Please be patient and bear with us as we tackle 2024 which looks like a very real challenge!
One of our recent Working Cat relocations, taking her job to heart!
2024 – What’s Happenin’ So Far
We have had to say “no” to so many people in the last two months. One of the most difficult things to think about is what will happen to those cats if we don’t help them? We hope a recent situation we worked on was not due to our saying “no” but we will never know. Got a call from a lady who walks her dog in a park. She found two very friendly younger cats, was very certain they had been dumped, was pretty sure of who had done it but didn’t have the address, just thought she knew the building the person might live in and was sure that person had moved that same day, called the police and called us. Luckily a volunteer was available to go over, in the meantime a CSO officer showed up with a carrier and they got an adult and 3 kittens (3 mos to 5 mos) into the carrier. There were more cats. The next day, three more kittens, same age. That evening a call from someone who had a cat laying in their yard – before we got back to them, they took it to a rescue who could warm it up and carer for it. Next day, CSO collected an adult that had been put in a crate on a patio, that cat went to DCAS, where it gave birth that evening and 5 kittens survived. Next day, a guy got another kitten in a carrier, brought it to us, gave him a trap and several days later he brought another kitten to us. These were all friendly cats. In all, 7 kittens went to ADOPT for s/n and they kept them for adoption and half were adopted very quickly. The adult female was very scared, she was very early pregnant so that would have been even more kittens, she got very sick and needed intravenous fluids and monitoring at the vet, she is at the building, finally eating well and settling in after her trauma. This dump of cats resulted in 16 in all. A CSO, 4 organizations, at least 3 concerned residents were involved. Cats do not do well in fending for themselves when put outside with no experience in the Winter.
The recent spay/neuters include a few remainders at sites needing relocation – the cats would be given carriers to keep warm as they acclimated to the new spot, cats that were inside houses, and the remaining unneutered cats we had on hand.
2/2/24 – ADOPT – 1 friendly, 1 feral, both male. Feral was relocated, friendly is in foster.
2/7/24 – ADOPT – 6 friendly, 2 feral, 2 female, 6 male. ADOPT kept 5 kittens for adoption from this trip. One of the ferals was relocated.
2/9/24 – ADOPT – 8 friendly, 1 feral, 6 female, 3 male. ADOPT kept 2 kittens for adoption. Included were a mom & kittens – in November the kittens had been born at our building in our TNR room and moved to the room we call Caturnity until they could all go to foster. Mom was very nice and recently adopted!
Total: 19 for February, 31 for 2024, 14,911 since our start.
2/9 Trip to ADOPT
2024 - Off We Go!
Written by Tammy McAuley
And off we go - As Many As Possible, As Soon As Possible!
1/3/24 – ADOPT – 2 friendlies, one male, one female. Two kittens were brought to us on 12/29/23. They were older than we were really comfortable with but felt we should try – they could go back outside with eartips if they did not decide to be tame. They did progress, were neutered 1/3 and have made more progress. There was one more kitten out there, avoiding the trap, we asked that the caretaker stop and give good food and shelter and we would neuter it in the Spring.
1/19/124 – ADOPT – 10 friendlies, 4 females, 6 males. Some of these came in to us in November but 3 came on January 4th, one was in a garage in Oak Brook, two more were at a location in Wood Dale that we had been trying to get the last cat and here were older kittens. We have been constantly forced to tell people “no” each and every day since then as we must stop and regroup, adopt out what we have on hand, take care of all of our responsibilities.
Total: 12 for January, 12 for 2024, 14,892 since our start.
Only two friendlies on 1/3/24 but very important that we get them s/n and on their way!
We used the big room this time to stage the friendlies for 1/19.
Support A Mid-level, Veterinary Professional Associate Program
Position statement from Association for Animal Welfare Advancement. They are suggesting a mid-level, Veterinary Professional Associate Degree program (similar to physicians assistants for humans) be created to reduce the lack of veterinary care available across the nation.
What I sent to my congressman:
“I am president of Feral Fixers NFP, a TNR (trap/neuter/return) organization that in 16 years has neutered almost 15,000 cats. Preventing at least 200,000 kittens. We could do more if there were sufficient veterinary support. We are only limited by the number of s/n surgery slots we can obtain, that is limited by the 15,000 veterinarian shortage across the nation. Here is a great suggestion by the Association for Animal Welfare Advancement (https://theaawa.org/position-statements/). Here is a large organization that is making a reasonable suggestion to help our nation's animals and their human families, while reducing the impact on local police departments and animal controls. If change does not happen, unchecked euthanasia will return to being common place. You may not be on a committee that is currently responsible for changes in animal care but please keep this in mind and take any opportunity to endorse a change in the level of education in order to reduce the burden on all facets of animal care.”
I have no idea what committee would be involved in legislation that would work on this but felt the need to share the info. Please share where you can. Change has to start somewhere.
This Is NOT A Friendly
We hear this sort of story all the time - “She is very friendly… looks at me and meows when I bring out her food. Often, I get really close to her when I put the bowls down….”
So often people are close to tears as they just don’t understand that a cat is deemed friendly and adoptable only when you can pick it up and handle it for at least several minutes. We have to have basic criteria before investing time and space to a cat in hopes it will become adoptable. It can take months before a cat really goes all the way to being a friendly if they are not completely receptive from the beginning. Our goal is to neuter as many cats as possible in order to create room for those cats who are already friendly to have homes. Due to the current shelter and spay/neuter crisis, cats are having to go back outside or be fostered by their caretakers until they are indeed what the public considers “friendly.” Please understand that we are doing the best we can and help us to neuter every cat we encounter – at the very least!
Microchips Make a Difference
Often one cat at a time, microchips make a difference in cat’s lives. A cat traveled from Nevada to Wyoming and finally home to Decatur, Illinois all because he was microchipped. And of course, the caring individuals who scanned him, found his owners and then transported him across country, hosting him at stops along the way.
Cats, Incarceration, Chile
Cats can make a difference, even in those humans who have been imprisoned and removed from society. Known as “the Pen,” the 180-year-old main penitentiary in Santiago, Chile’s capital, has long been known as a place where men live in cages and cats roam free. What is now more clearly understood is the positive effect of the prison’s roughly 300 cats on the 5,600 human residents. In 2016, when the cat population had ballooned up to 400, an organization was given permission to provide spay/neuter, health care for the cat inmates and the population has stabilized thru the combined efforts of Felinnos Foundation and the inmates.
Happy New Year 2024!
Written by Tammy McAuley
The Last Trip Of 2023
Even tho it was time for a break, we still had two cats that could be done –
12/29 – ADOPT – 2 friendlies, both males. NutterButter is a kitten that was brought inside by the caretaker and will be staying as a pet. Coalman came to us severely dehydrated and malnourished to the extent that he spent two days at Glen Ellyn on fluids after receiving injectable antibiotics. Turns out he had calici – a virus that is prevented by the FVRCP vaccination that all cats we process receive – if only he had been neutered sooner and that could have been prevented! He still has a tiny red tip to his tongue but is sooo much healthier and plans are that his caretaker will be bringing him inside as well. Total: 45 for December, 928 for 2023, 14,880 since our start. We have no intention of neutering anyone before the 3rd week of January – too much to do in the interim!!!
12/29/23 trip - What a different life for these two males. NOT "just two" but two more!
This Can Still Happen Anywhere
“Hundreds of stray cats that roam a historic seaside tourist area of Puerto Rico’s capital where they are considered both a delight and a nuisance will be removed over the coming year, under a plan unveiled Tuesday by the U.S. National Park Service.” Two hundred cats need to be removed in six months in an area covering 75 acres surrounding a historic site in San Juan.
Associations And Management Companies Banning Trapping
Recently we’ve received calls from people who have been told that they cannot trap a feral or even a lost pet because it is illegal to trap. While it may not comply with the association or lease rules, it is not illegal in DuPage Country to trap a cat:
Whenever an animal control warden observes or is informed that an animal is roaming freely and not under the control of the owner, the animal shall be immediately apprehended and impounded. Any person may apprehend a stray animal and inform the local police or the administrator so that the stray animal can be impounded.”
New Law May Help Vet Shortage - Florida
Effective July 1, 2023, Florida veterinarians struggling with a dangerous backlog of spay/neuter services became able to call on colleagues from out of state to help, thanks to new legislation signed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
Don’t Answer the Phone
When I mention how stressful the volume of phone calls can be, I’ve been advised, “Just don’t answer it.” Yesterday there was a perfect illustration of why I still have to. Lady called, there was an injured cat in her back yard (back legs not working) but it had managed to scramble away, and she had to get to work. I told her that if she could get it in a carrier, then we could see what we could do but our options were very limited, there wasn’t a volunteer available that I knew of, and the cat had taken off. Daughter calls 20 minutes later that cat was back, thought she could get the cat in something, had not been able to get thru to DCAS. Waiting for another call from her I managed to reach DCAS and despite how overwhelmingly busy they were, they were willing to help the cat. Daughter called, got it into a box, DCAS said bring it. Cat had been hit by a car, we had TNR’d her in 2011 so she was over 12 years old, she was in extremely bad shape so I authorized euthanasia. Left message for first caretaker who was just a block away. She called back, had not lived there for 10 years but daughter still feeding the cats, so would let her know. This is an example of how many people are willing to work together to help just one cat and to find the best outcome for it, relieving its suffering. This is what keeps us going and we are so appreciative of everyone who helps, from first caretaker doing TNR to current Good Samaritan to the people who answer a phone and fit in one more cat. Thank you all!
See You at Frosty Claws!
Debbie out did herself this year! Afghan for Frosty Claws Silent Auction 64" x 78". Super comfy!
Happy New Year!
2023-2024 Letter From the President
Written by Tammy McAuley
2023 – What A Year
Together, volunteers, donors, caretakers, everyone involved with Feral Fixers, we have accomplished 926 spay/neuters of feral and stray cats and kittens. With the help of our dedicated adoption and foster and animal care volunteers, we have found homes for 360 cats and kittens. In just this year, you can see the impact as we reduced the volume of cats outdoors, we reduced the overpopulation crisis from every direction, helping felines and humans alike.
The challenges have been immense.
Kitten numbers have increased dramatically –societal changes may be the biggest impact: lack of vet access, money, movement of our population – combining households, isolation and hoarding, etc. People are actually paying more attention to the cats outside and are discovering the pregnant cat, the litter of kittens much more readily than in the past which results in overall increased volume that we are contacted about. Every shelter is full. Everyone is doing their best to save every cat they can. Adults and kittens are becoming friendly at an increased pace. Years ago, a feral was a feral was a feral. Not anymore. Kittens sometimes are friendly from the time they are trapped, adults will have a complete turnaround to being friendly. National organizations are seeing this and the only advice they can offer is that even if a cat is friendly, put it back outside – there just aren’t enough homes.
Volunteers. The data can be looked at in many different ways, but finding information that DuPage County ranked 2nd in 102 Illinois Counties of charities per square mile illustrates why it is so difficult finding and maintaining volunteers. No one seems to have as much time as we used to. There are so many choices of where to spend that valuable volunteer time. Our lives can change in an instant and our personal responsibilities must take priority. Feral Fixers has wonderful volunteers, and we treasure them every day. We need more, the volunteer staff is not a constant and can change quickly. From trapping to transport, fostering and shifts of cat care at the building, cleaning – oh my, the cleaning! We do need volunteers who can snuggle kittens just as much as we need those who can sweep floors and do laundry. Social people who can interact with adopters on adoption days, help with events, host events! Everyone has their own strengths and abilities, please share them with us!
Need everywhere. We can average five calls a day for help.
*Discovered kittens under the shed, come help. *My mother let a pregnant cat into her house, come trap and take the kittens. *My cat has lost its mind and is attacking me, help. *I have 15 cats in and around my house (usually results in 60+ cats). *I live outside your area, but I can bring the cats to you. *Been feeding a cat for 2 years, not neutered, now he’s injured from fighting, come help. On social media, you may often see “call Feral Fixers, they will help you” and we do help so many!
With all these challenges we must remember the impact we have had, can you imagine how many cats would be roaming the streets, producing more and more, the suffering we have alleviated, feline and human alike! We have much more work to do but what a difference has been accomplished!
You - donors, volunteers, caretakers, are all responsible for the huge difference Feral Fixers has achieved in the last 16+ years!
Letter From The President - With Your Help
Written by Tammy McAuley
731 spay/neuters of cats and kittens. We brought in +/- 320 friendly cats & kittens. Some of these were previously neutered adults who decided to become friendly after being neutered. There have been approximately 300 adoptions, but still have 33 officially posted for adoption and many more in foster homes. We have helped many cats with injuries and conditions from simple upper respiratory to congenital defects the cats were born with. We have provided food for caretakers. Removed feral cats from inside homes when there was no other way to get them out. Seen the change in cats who were completely feral transitioning into loving lap cats. Relocated cats that could no longer stay where they were due to overpopulation or change of circumstances. You have helped us do so much! So much goes on behind the scenes beyond our reports of spay/neuter trips and you are all part of caring for the stray and feral cats of DuPage County!
What Can We Expect In 2023?
We continue to face the unknown. Who could have expected that across the nation, we are short 15,000 veterinarians? Who could have expected that our nation could be short millions of spay/neuter surgeries? So many different factors are affecting daily lives, it will be interesting to see the impact on cats outdoors, how many kittens will be born to these unneutered females still roaming that no one was able to get to. Prices have gone up for cat food, cat litter, gasoline to take them to appointments & adoptions, and on and on. What can we do? We can continue to get as many spay/neuter appointments as we possibly can and to FILL those appointments, making caretakers aware that they must contact us as soon as a cat is consistent in attendance. It is the ONLY way to lower costs in the future. Once those kittens arrive, we will care for them, using resources for current day expenses, not for preventing even greater expenditures in the future – that is unsustainable and returns us to the past when feral cats were euthanized regularly.
Trapping will resume around the end of March, beginning of April. Keep an eye out for ferals in your area, talk to your neighbors, help us help you to care for those cats.
What Can You Do?
The Amazon Smile donation in November, which covered purchases made between July 1, 2022, and September 30, 2022, came to $606.70. That means that our donors spent $121,340 in that time period and .5% was donated by Amazon Smile – Yay! Use AmazonSmile and designate Feral Fixers – could not be an easier way to raise funds!
Visit our wish lists at Amazon & Chewy – we always need food; canned food in particular goes fast when you are supporting so MANY kittens! Gift cards allow us to purchase what our greatest need at the time is – paper towels, bleach, laundry detergent, litter boxes – amazing the variety of things we purchase to keep going!
Spread our information to coworkers, family, social media – we have donors across the country! Cats have a ripple effect, they don’t stay in one place and affect wider resources than those on their street, in their town, in their county – even in their state! New people are volunteering with us due to sharing information, but we need more volunteers, many more. Trappers, transporters, cleaners in the building, animal care in the building, fosters, event volunteers, the list goes on. You tell us what you want to do to help, and we try to make that fit for both of our benefits!
Frosty Claws in 2023
We seem to be returning to some degree of normalcy. As a result, we will be holding our 2023 Frosty Claws on Sunday, January 15th from 12 noon to 4pm at the Villa Park VFW. We may have huge attendance that day because of skipping years, please be patient. This is an event for our caretakers, adopters, donors, to talk about cats and network with some fundraising and food. We are about to start assembling our Silent Auction and door prize items – we may not have as much “stuff” as in previous years – we will post items as they are created, as soon as we have a chance. We look forward to seeing everyone who can attend!
The Kittyman Sea Shanty
Written by Tammy McAuley
Something to brighten your day...
What A Year!
Written by Tammy McAuley
If nothing else has come of this year it has brought us all new appreciation for what we have, what we have lost and what we are able to do to make things better for ourselves and others.
We appreciate all the people who have continued to care about the cats. Many new caretakers had the time to resolve the cats around them. Extra time spent at home led to lots of new fosters and some foster failures as those families adopted their fosters, unable to part with them. People spending more time at home led to many more kittens being brought in and the longest "kitten season" we've ever experienced with the extended balmy weather. We formed tighter bonds with the area rescues as we all went thru the same challenges.
All those kittens took a toll on our fosters, our s/n transporters and Sue, our adoption counselor. There were individual kittens that actually received 40 – 50 inquiries EACH! But each of these kittens go to the best home possible for them as individuals and the alumni stories we receive validate the effort put into that goal. Please take the time to read the foster story included in this newsletter, we have some very impressive volunteers.
Thru it all we kept going as our physical interactions with people are limited and usually outdoors. A few fosters experienced COVID, most of us have been able to remain healthy.
Our ability to fundraise has been greatly impacted as cat people are much more social with other cat people than one might think and they greatly enjoy our in-person events!
A Few Notes About the Building
We try to wash and disinfect our traps before they go into Winter storage so they can be used immediately in the Spring. We were able to transport them all to the building, the railing spacing on the ramp made it very easy to get them into the building, the new washtub was able to hold 4 traps (3 large, 1 small) at once, so simple! And there was plenty of room for spraying with a blast of disinfectant, rinsing and shipping off to storage!
Just a few more days of our Black Cat Giving Tuesday Fundraiser. We hope the 2021 Feral Fixers Happy New Year! Raffle helps to replace our Frosty Claws event and provide something our donors will enjoy participating in.
For many reasons, I receive emails from a great many non-profits. That means that I see how they promote their organizations and ask for money. We do our very best to be different, low-volume and specific about our needs. I can't imagine how weary some of you must be, bombarded on a daily basis by every group for human, environmental, political and animal needs. I could say negative things about those other groups but would instead reaffirm that funds donated to Feral Fixers work to benefit the cats in this geographic area. Surgeries, medications, food, transportation, supplies, a building to house them in, it all goes towards the cats. The percentage of funds used for fundraising (administrative costs are often a high percentage of total costs) is minimal. We adapt ideas and make our asks as enjoyable as possible 😸. We will never be able to give up fundraising but promise to keep the annoyance to a minimum!
We have personal relationships with our donors and we appreciate them so much!
We wish you a Wonderful Holiday and the Best Possible New Year!
Thank you all for your personal messages this year, they are greatly appreciated. Wish we could thank you all individually!