Huge changes at the building! Double doors have been installed at the rear wall to allow easier entry to the TNR room and storage – traps & supplies do not have to be moved thru the building using the other entrances. All of the floor demolition has been done, pipes installed, new flooring in almost all the rooms – wooden flooring in the common areas, epoxy poured floor in TNR and laundry area. Preliminary painting has been done! So much yet to do but we're getting there! We couldn't do this without your donations, please continue to support this huge change for Feral Fixers!
The new double doors have been installed at the back of the building. The picture on the left shows the start of the demo while the picture on the right shows the framing for the door. There will be a ramp installed along the sidewalk to allow easier access to the North side of the building and TNR room.
It still looks rough around the edges - moulding yet to be done, but flooring (pictures on the left and in the middle) in and 1st coat of paint! The picture on the right shows the new epoxy/poured floor in TNR and laundry rooms - this was poured in just the last few days!
From blog posts around the country and beyond, many trappers encounter ferals escaping from traps. Here is how we have resolved some of those issues:
HavAHart traps can have a flimsy trap door that can be drawn in towards the cat and the cat presses on the door, raises it and gets out. 10lb+ cats need extra security! Placing something as simple as a tent stake thru the mesh in front of the door brace prevents it from moving backwards and allowing the door to lift.
TruCatch traps will open when rolled over. Also, cats can draw in towels, newspaper and plastic covering tables to raise the rings holding the back door down. A clip on a chain will hold one end closed – caribiners get lost so easily. A twist of wire thru the rings and the frame will hold the back door in place. These changes would add so much to the purchase costs but are a very inexpensive fix for us to do "aftermarket."
TruCatch and HavAHart traps with "aftermarket upgrades" applied.
Ways To Donate
We received another AmazonSmile quarterly donation of $311! Purchases made thru AmazonSmile with Feral Fixers as the designated charity results in .5% being contributed to us! It may not sound like a lot, $62,000 was spent to get us that $311 but it is one of the easiest ways to raise funds – you're going to make the purchase anyway, why shouldn't something go to charity? Once the building is up and running our Amazon Wish List will grow but donations made from the list thru AmazonSmile benefits us doubly!
It is becoming easier and easier to set up a monthly donation, thru PayPal or your bank and we receive many this way and rely on that continued support in order to budget for the future. Many thanks to our monthly donors.
Our newest fundraiser is As If They Were Our Own. This fundraiser helps us to support the cats that have no caretakers or even if they have caretakers, they don't have the hundreds of dollars it takes to heal the injuries and illnesses that these ferals and strays show up with. Some kittens have issues that can be resolved with a surgery and they can go on to live full, long lives. Those funds have to come from somewhere. We currently have $3,500 to be matched, we would love to have more donors contribute funds to be matched. Our fundraiser Giving Grid can be accessed here and the preliminary goal will be to match the $3,500 between now and October 16th (which is National Feral Cat Day). Donations have been slower, we haven't had in-person events, we are hoping this fundraiser will be a huge success! The cats count on us for care – even if its some antibiotics to get them thru an upper respiratory to an eye removal when the eye is not going to heal! Keep posted!
Time Is Just Flying By!
Things are working out that we are making multiple trips in a week – due to s/n availability or trapping availability or just the weather! As a result, working harder than last year, looking forward to Winter! We've taken in so many kittens, helped so many injured cats. People are contacting us because other organizations have severely limited their response. Have to keep reminding ourselves that there is only so much we can do, our resources have not expanded while the work has. We neutered 89 cats in August, 23 so far in September for a total for the year of 411 and 12,096 since our beginning in 2007. October is usually our busiest month as caretakers want to get TNR done before it gets too cold. Back in November of 2019, we announced that the last s/n trip for ferals for 2020 would be 10/29/20. We're going to stick with that. We never know what the weather is going to do these days and we need to be sure we do not cause more harm than good! Let's do our best!
Two loads of cats sent to DuPage County Animal Services. The batch on the left is 24 cats sent in on August 6th while the batch on the right is 23 cats sent in on August 10th.
We've had a couple of polydactyl cats recently! A picture of one of them is on the left, while the picture on the right is of five cats sent to ADOPT on 9/1 (only five, but important to them!).
(Clicking on any of the picture thumbnails will display a larger version of the picture)
Building updates, Garage Sale & 12,000 cats!
Written by Tammy McAuley
Things Are Progressing!
This Spring, two of the HVAC units on the roof that were not working were removed. This past week, three new HVAC units were installed! Three units enable us to heat and cool efficiently, adding to the life of the units themselves as each are not carrying too heavy a load and making us better able to separate air flow inside the building. Gatwood Crane Service donated the use of their cranes and people for both steps of this process! Check out the pictures of the HVAC work and new shots of the interior with the carpet gone – you can really tell we're working on it. The picture on the top left shows the empty room where the vault used to be - glad it's finally gone! Holes in the walls off of the laundry area are for the piping for sinks in the TNR & ISO rooms.
And a couple of short videos to share with you. The first one shows the ancient carpet attached with horrible glue has been removed! New flooring will be one of the last steps. And the second shows the vault has been removed and plumbing roughed in for sinks and washer & dryer!
More Cats Already!
On 7/30/20, we sent 27 cats to DCAS, 15 friendlies and 12 ferals. One feral was already neutered and one friendly was already neutered, resulting in 15 males and 10 females receiving surgery. This trip also included our 12,000th cat neutered by Feral Fixers! A large, gray/white male, Chester is now already back at his colony and will have a longer and healthier life after being neutered and vaccinated! On 7/31/20 we sent another 5 friendlies into ADOPT, 3 males and 2 females. We have so many kittens on hand now that are available for adoption – please get pre-approved and work with our adoption counselor to bring home that special new family member! Go to our Want to Adopt? and click to fill out the questionnaire. With 30 additional surgeries, the July total is 114, year-to-date is 329 and the total since our start in 2007 is 12,014!
A couple of notes on the pictures below. The top, right-hand picture shows Veterinarian extraordinaire Dr. Jessica Von Waldau holding up Chester while he was under anesthesia. Cats under anesthesia will usually have open eyes. Ointment is administered as part of the pre-surgery protocol to keep the eyes lubricated and moist during sedation for surgery. It can be alarming to people unfamiliar with cats in surgery but the cats are fully sedated and unaware of their surroundings even if their eyes are open. The sedation causes a disconnect between the eyes and brain, fully restored when the cat awakens. This is not something you see on TV or have common knowledge of, but good to know if you are ever present when your cat is sedated so that you don't worry.
The middle row, right-hand picture is a panorama of the garage. There are more traps in the row behind the carriers. 15 friendlies and 12 ferals sent in that day.
The bottom, right-hand picture is another one of Chester - cats often make caves out of the newspaper in their traps!
DuPage County Animal Services (DCAS) noted on their Facebook Page "It was a great Thursday on our surgical vehicle. Our partners Feral Fixers celebrated helping their 12,000th cat! Since our veterinary vehicle arrived in 2018, we've assisted them with about 900 of those surgeries!
Thanks to Dr. Von Waldau, our vet techs, DuPage Animal Friends, and all the generous donors for making this milestone possible!"
(Click on any of the picture thumbnails to see a larger version of the picture)
I Just Want To Neuter Cats!
Written by Tammy McAuley
It may not be the way all TNR organizations approach their mission, Feral Fixers may be wayyyy different, but we do get involved in much more than just neutering cats. In addition to caring for the area cats, we sometimes feel compelled to help people, too. To illustrate, I want to share a recent situation.
I received a call from an elderly woman who told me that a man from the Village had stopped and ordered her to stop feeding. To shorten the story, the couple is mid-90's, frail, have health issues, and are hoarders of stuff. It is huge luck that the cats are not indoors as trapping them there would be completely impossible. Their son lives with them so the likelihood of their situation improving is doubtful. The cats cannot go back. We trapped 14 adults and 16 kittens from the yard at this one house. We are already overwhelmed with the number of kittens on hand and DCAS has fosters waiting for kittens to care for so the kittens from this location are going there. The Village is okay with up to 3 going back but the couple is adamant that none can. Since the adults cannot go back, they are participating in our Working Cats Program. All of the cats are black and black/white and quiet compared to most ferals. They have pretty much only been fed dry food and when they hear a can pop open they sing for their supper! But that's the only interaction they have been interested in. The unfortunate part of this story is that in 2013 we neutered, adopted out, relocated 13 cats. In 7 years they built that back up to 30 and never contacted us during that time. Once we are certain to get that last tiny, elusive kitten, hopefully their location will be resolved for good.
This is just one of the many scenarios going on right now. You can help by making monetary donations – they are not helping with the cost of this situation, making food donations, and by sharing our Working Cats program information to potential relocation sites – barns, businesses, homes on large plots, cats can contribute in many locations. Also, keep an eye out for your neighbors – they may not actually SEE what is going on around themselves and realize the impact their actions can have. Call us if you would rather not contact "authorities." We have no problem talking to the right people and work to get situations resolved for the benefit of everyone, not just the cats.
Would MUCH rather just neuter cats and we're always working towards that goal!!!
We've had some stops and starts at the building, hope to get some fresh inside pictures soon. There was a volunteer work day this past week and a truck load of mulch was spread from our friends at Dawson's Tree Service. Our permits were finalized and that pesky vault was removed! This weekend the worn out carpeting was removed – huge challenge! In a matter of days the new HVAC units will be put in place on the roof! Lots of progress but much, much more to do!
We've Been Very Busy!
We very rapidly had over 130 kittens on our hands this Spring and the numbers of feral calls have continued. It is just easier to put our trips in chart form! With 104 additional surgeries, our total for June was 121, our total for July to date is 84, bringing our total for the year to 299 and since our start we have neutered 11,984 cats! Our next trip will put us over the 12,000 mark!
Here's a summary of the trips we've made since our last post;
Two more pictures: The one on the left is a panorama of the garage - getting ready for the June 25th trip to DuPage County Animal Services, while the one on the right is from the June 11th pickup from DuPage County Animal Services (with 6 already loaded into the vehicle).
Friskies has discontinued the 13oz cans. For one feeding in the garage of 16 cats, we "pops the tops" of 19 of the 5.5oz cans (shown on the right)! We feed well when they come back from surgery, mixing the food with water to counteract the fasting they went thru prior to surgery!
And finally, on this Feral Fixers Facebook Post, you can hear a sweet "Kitten Serenade"
Written by Tammy McAuley
DuPage Giving Days
For the last two years Feral Fixers has participated in the DuPage Human Race. In its history, weather has played a huge part in the success of the event. Due to this, Giving DuPage decided to have a one-day virtual event. With the arrival of the pandemic and the huge impact on the non-profit community, it is now a month long, May 14th is the last day. You can donate or become a Fundraising Champion and raise funds yourself for Feral Fixers! We have a matching donor for $2,400! Giving Days will replace the funds we normally receive for the Human Race and counteract the cancellation of our Kitten Shower, so we are looking forward to many supporters participating! Funds will go to our general account and used to support the medical needs of the cats we help "As If They Were Our Own." Please go to the GivingDuPageDays website and search for Feral Fixers (the direct link to our fundraising page is here.). You can set up your Fundraising Champion page now and donations can be made starting Tuesday, April 14th. Be creative, still go for a run or walk – weather permitting – and support Feral Fixers!
S/N Still Shut Down
While we cannot hold spay days yet, cats continue to come our way. On March 25th, one of our volunteers picked up a cat that was supposed to be friendly – the people had even put a collar on him and a leash before they picked him up and put him in a carrier for our volunteer. Gets to my garage – totally different behavior, hissing on the sight of me. That happens sometimes. He had an ear tip but a really bad eye – looked mushy. Left on its own it might have just dried up but he looked to be in pain. Cases like this are very difficult, ferals cannot be treated the way friendlies can – no topical meds, limited oral meds, it can be a battle. Don't take this the wrong way but unfortunately he had nothing else wrong with him! It was a real 50-50 situation. I opted for eye removal, with the hope we would have a supportive relocation site available for when he healed. Petey refused to eat on his own, we finally negotiated that I would hold his cone with my left hand while syringing a gruel of baby food and fine pate into him, while he growled and chomped on the syringe. After a few days he would eat small amounts from the saucer overnight. Day 8, there was an abscess behind the incision and back he went for a re-do. Cultured the material and Bayril was the right antibiotic. Liquid med is causing an amazing amount of drool so going back to the vet for tablets that can be crushed and mixed with a small amount of food and syringed. Wish me luck! He is not grateful in the slightest! We cannot give all the cats we encounter this level of care but I am trying with Petey – one of the cats we treat "As If They Were Our Own."
Despite the shut-down, we are able to do some work on the building. IT wiring will happen very soon and we are fine-tuning the layout and changes. We will be moving some doors and putting in new ones, taking out a wall, removing the vault – we have no idea why the building had a vault with an enormous, heavy door – like a bank! We will be changing the types of doors on the rooms so that we will be able to see what the cats are doing before we step in, lots of changes! Once we get a permit, double doors will be installed on the back of the building, providing easier access for cats in traps, etc. This will entail a ramp going up to the doors from the parking lot.
There's always something new! We thought it was great when they came up with the pole microchip scanner but the round scanning end does have its issues. Now, with this model, a cat could be scanned in almost any situation and claims to be reliable two inches away from the chip. We get feral cats in carriers, traps, crates, and using the round scanner can have its risks. Looks like this could be threaded into any container. If you are looking to donate equipment, while not an emergency need, it would make our lives just that bit easier!
Food Donation Program Volunteers Needed
We receive food donations from Rescue Pack, paying only the shipping costs. The canned and dry food is delivered to a trucking company in Carol Stream. We also can receive litter and other supplies. We support feral cat colonies and low-income families with limited resources. These donations are palletized and can weigh 1,000 to 2,000lbs for each skid. We are limited to two vehicles doing pick up on a distribution day. We store the supplies and pass them out to the people we support.
The volunteers who have taken care of this for the last 3 years are moving out of the area and can no longer do any part of these responsibilities. What we need:
Availability on a Saturday AM – sometimes due to inclement weather, distribution can get bumped to the next day. Distributions can be every one to two months depending on product availability.
Access to a vehicle (truck, large SUV, etc.) that can be loaded by forklift. Special arrangement needs to be made for hand loading and it really slows down their process. They service about 90 organizations on that one day distribution. There are truck rental companies that give us a discount on rental but we need someone comfortable driving a large delivery truck.
Physically able to assist with unloading.
Storage availability for 1 to 4 skids of canned and dry food – garage or warehouse space. Litter and other supplies could be stored elsewhere. Arrangements can be made for recipients to come pick up same day as much as they can transport but that is not always possible. Availability for pickup from your location at pre-arranged times by our recipients. Our new building will not be able to hold this volume of donations and we need to have an alternative. Unexpected donations from other sources can happen, too.
One person does not have to be responsible for all aspects of the program. There is usually a two-week warning of an upcoming distribution.
Due to the pandemic, we don't know when the next distribution will take place as resources are being concentrated in hot spots.
Thank you to everyone who continue support us!
Stay Safe! Stay Healthy!
April, 2020 Updates
Written by Tammy McAuley
You might not think that the Census would have anything to do with cats, right? Actually, thru the years I have used Census statistics to substantiate grant proposals, show how many cats per residents we have done in a town, justify our future activities. Number of residents, income levels, type of housing all impact the number of feral cats in an area.
The directions for filling out the form says it takes ten minutes. It took me three. Even at 10 minutes it is a very worthwhile investment of your time – and it benefits Feral Fixers!
The virus has impacted Feral Fixers in many ways.
Our Kitten Shower has been cancelled, resulting in fewer donations. We will be working on other ways to make up for those donations but we cannot replace the good will generated by the event – face to face makes a big difference, our people really enjoy getting together.
Work on the building may be slowed due to restriction of numbers of people and "Stay At Home."
Area vets have limited appointments. S/N is NOT considered an essential service. ADOPT Pet Shelter clinic has closed til further notice. We used the DCAS mobile unit this week, using safe distancing and PPE in the vehicle but the possible overall risk is too great and we will not be able to do s/n until further notice.
Many people are at home, doing Spring Cleaning and want to donate items to Feral Fixers for the building and this year's Garage Sale. We will not be putting anything in the building until we are done with improvements and we have no date for the Garage Sale as of yet. Hopefully, you have stored the items for this long, perhaps you can hold onto them a little longer – now you have them boxed up in a space-saving fashion 😊! And, please, when we are able to get together again, we will appreciate donations for our Silent Auction and door prizes.
Monetary donations – while the Required Minimum Distribution has been postponed for 2020 – many donations come from this source, the Covid-19 stimulus bill allows deductions for $300 charitable contributions in 2020.
Rescue Pack – this is the major source for our food donations. Due to the panic buying, supplies of donated pet food have been severely impacted. Temporarily, the focus has been shifted towards moving available donated food supplies to central locations, like animal controls, who may see an immediate impact in the number of animals they care for and have the largest staff numbers on hand in order to accommodate deliveries of food, most shelters have a skeleton crew at best right now. Supply of food has been cut pretty much in half but they understand the need and will be working hard to hold the next food distribution.
Trapping – this is so frustrating! We do not want to lose ground and have numbers surge again but we can't do neuter surgeries ourselves! You know, if I was able, I'd do it myself!!! We will have to consider each situation and do what we can to mitigate the impact. If that means nabbing and fostering kittens or leaving them all in place, we will have to judge on the basis of our resources at the time. So, no solid answers, we'll all have to work together for the best outcome we can achieve. Last year the surge of kittens happened on April 10th, calls are starting now.
Numbers To Date
On March 16th we ended up with two ferals that were trapped without notification, DCAS neutered them for us, both males. On March 19th we sent 5 ferals to ADOPT, 2 males, 3 females. Our last trip to DCAS, for the foreseeable future, was on 4/2 with 7 ferals, 2 males, 5 females. This brings our March total to 15, April total to 7, year total to 26 and 11,711 since our beginning.
Lots more to say, will post again soon, everyone stay healthy!
Written by Tammy McAuley
With the rapidly changing situation and recommendations, we have decided to cancel our Kitten Shower on April 19th.
We did mail out our invites over the weekend, not expecting the new restrictions.
If we are able to re-schedule, we will do so, but it is looking like months instead of weeks while the world goes thru this. Many other organizations are saying "See you next year." If you know someone who normally attends but does not participate in social media, please let them know about the cancellation.
We don't want anyone to be in a situation where they are exposed to a potentially fatal illness. Done.
We will still be doing TNR. We will stay in close contact with DCAS and ADOPT and are still planning on kicking off full trips in April. We absolutely do not want to lose ground. If caretakers are stuck at home, we might be busier than previous years!
We have cats waiting to be trapped already!
We hope to be able to close on our building this week – much can be done electronically but people have to actually be in their offices to receive and process. Scheduled for March 19th, the ending date of our Fund Our Ferals' Future fundraiser. We'll keep you posted on that front also.
When some normalcy returns we will have an Open House at the new building but cannot plan that date yet.
In the meantime, please take care of yourselves!
This is a global situation with local ramifications.
You may already be tired of hearing about it but this is not over yet, and Feral Fixers needs to update you one what we're doing.
We have no choice but to continue to do our work. We cannot lose ground, must continue to care for the cats. As long as none of us are sick, we will evaluate our own contacts with the public, which is usually one-on-one. We ask that anyone we will encounter consider our safety.
We have an event scheduled for April 19th, the Kitten Shower at the VFW in Villa Park. At this time, the VFW has had no issues, they are wiping down all surfaces after each event they host. This is still 5 weeks away and so much can change in just 5 weeks with this situation. The numbers could be worse or we could be on the downside with numbers going down dramatically. There's so much to do before the day of an event, we'll be sending out postcards today, working on gift baskets, etc.
Right now, we are still planning on holding the event. Attendance is usually 150 to 200 people, below the limits recently set by Governor Pritzker. We are not an excessively touchy-feely crowd, we will be supplying everyone with their own pens, providing hand sanitizer, figuring out the food. We do not have the resources to turn this into a virtual event on short notice and there isn't an alternate time period in the year we can move it to.
We will be monitoring the situation and may still cancel the event. So many enjoy the Kitten Shower, it may be the only time in the year we get to see our supporters and it is one of our major fundraisers.
We'll see what this looks like in a few weeks and keep everyone informed of our plans, it is a very fluid situation. DO NOT plan on attending if you feel the slightest bit ill or concerned. Your health is the most important thing here. You can turn it into your own virtual event!
Wanted to let everyone know where we are with this!