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  1. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
    December 6, 2019 @ 11:09 am

    I know I will get some comments about birds.

    I care deeply about birds. I have written about their plight—habitat loss, climate change, pesticides, windows… the list is endless; cats are last on the list.

    To quote the  Cornell Lab of Ornithology:
    Climate change and human-caused habitat loss are the greatest threat to North American birds; cats are a distraction from a far greater problem.

    My perspective:
    If we cared about birds, (which we don’t), but if we did— we would be talking about humans.
    Humans are destroying the ecosystem.

    When your habitat is no longer habitable, you die.
    This is true for birds. And humans too.

    We don’t care.
    I’m not sure why.


    IF YOU LOVE BIRDS, get busy with TNR!


  2. Sarah
    December 6, 2019 @ 11:10 am

    I TNR in winter in Philadelphia if the weather is mild. Last winter, many of the females I TNRd were pregnant in December, Jan and Feb. A couple of organizations will hold for you for a couple of days for recovery for a small fee (I think Forgotten Cats will do this), which will allow TNRing in the winter.

    Even if you can’t do the full process on your own, reach out to local groups. Often people need help with just one piece (transport, working with the feeders, recovery, donations of food or trap covers).


    • Dee
      December 8, 2019 @ 12:21 am

      Gross. Cats are a distraction for a greater problem? Regardless of the relative magnitude, cats still ARE a problem. You don’t get to claim to be a “bird lover” spewing this lazy and ignorant cop out.


      • judy
        December 8, 2019 @ 6:13 am

        I have fed feral cats for years until they finally came inside. I have to believe when they turned up half starved they were probably more of a threat to birds than when I changed them to fat and purring and hanging around our house 24/7.


  3. Katherine Howley
    December 6, 2019 @ 11:24 am

    I’m gonna say something harsh. Stop feeding feral cats. Catch them and bring them to a shelter. Cats are an invasive species and have decimated the songbird population.
    I am *not* saying to go out and murder feral kittens. Don’t do that. Instead, stop letting your pet cats outside and stop feeding ferals.
    Look, if you catch, fix, release and then care for a feral or two I’m probably not talking about you. If you are supporting a whole community, I definitely am. The overpopulation of cats in this country is an actual problem.


    • Linda
      December 6, 2019 @ 1:28 pm

      It has been proven that collecting the feral cats in an area and removing them does not do anything unless it were done absolutely everywhere at the same time. More will quickly repopulate the area. The method she talks about here has been proven to be the best option long term. By catching, fixing and releasing these cats their numbers actually decrease over time and if the areas nearby continue the process it does eventually reduce or even almost eliminate the problem. Do feral cats eat songbirds? Yes, but they also eat mice and rats that bird feeders can attract. Bigger birds like hawks etc. also eat songbirds as do many other animals. One could even argue that a bird feeder actually puts the birds at higher risk due to attracting more predators. We’re basically bringing dinner into a designated space making them easier targets for the predators. While the domesticated cat may not be a native species, other bigger cats are native as well as other predators that we have decimated their population. As someone who does wildlife rescue and rehab as well as domestic animals, it’s difficult to release one animal knowing it could become a meal for another equally loved animal, but that is how nature works. Do what you can to offer habitat and natural food sources for the birds and other animals. Be mindful of bird feeder placement and try to make the area as predator proof as you can even if that means not placing them outside your favorite window for viewing them. Healthy birds can avoid domestic cats fairly easily if the cats don’t have hiding places to sneak up on them. Avoiding bigger birds is much harder! Just my 2 cents, but helping all animals who are most likely in trouble due to humans is the right thing to do whenever possible. We can’t choose which add value to our lives and which don’t. There are also numerous non-native birds here…..


      • Dee
        December 8, 2019 @ 12:26 am

        Does non native vs native mean nothing in your world? Yes, bigger native predators eat their native prey because that’s how ecosystems work. Cats are not part of the native ecosystem, pretty much the entire point here. Numerous studies have shown that NO method of TNR works.


  4. Laura
    December 6, 2019 @ 11:40 am

    A neighbor and I TNR’d all the cats in our neighborhood over a three year period and then each had 2-3 cats we cared for in our yards. My two just passed away after 14 years! I used DP Hunter insulated dog houses inside a deck box (like you show in the back of your car) and a larger cedar dog house. Each house had an outdoor heating pad. I also used red heat lamps (for chickens) when it was really cold (I’m in Wisconsin). The larger outside boxes gave the cats a heated area and a non-heated but still covered area to hang out in. I also used covered feeding boxes – a wooden one with a shingled roof that I built and a clear plastic bin with the hinged half cover to prop up for an awning.
    We did learn after several litters if the kittens are young enough and you have the time, you can socialize and find homes for them rather than putting them back outside. My two indoor cats are the last of the kittens from that period before we got all the females spayed.
    I fully support your efforts!


  5. Barb
    December 6, 2019 @ 11:42 am

    As a foster mom myself (NOKA and ABC Rescue) and a 2 time foster failure I so understand the situations you are talking about and those awful “heart hurting” moments. I have pinned (to 3 separate sites) and emailed this to all the people I believe this would benefit. NOKA is big on TN/SR, but it is still a big problem here. I’ll stop here as I could go on and on, but you always say it best. So thank you for sharing this important information. PS Love your blog.


  6. Lisa A.
    December 6, 2019 @ 12:00 pm

    I so admire you and what you do – to the extent that with your encouragement I started to work with my local TNR group. Two years later and 22 fosters placed (YAY!) and three foster fails who are dearly loved and spoiled – how thankful I am for you and your valuable experience and encouragement. Who knew how rewarding it would be to socialize, care for and love a cat/kitten and find it a forever home.


  7. Constant Weeder
    December 6, 2019 @ 12:00 pm

    Nutrisystem frozen food comes in foam boxes that would be perfect for repurposing for cat shelters!


  8. Laura Burns
    December 6, 2019 @ 12:10 pm

    Thanks for this public service post! Unless I’m mistaken, all the cats you have TNR’d are male (and related), or cannot have been the mother of these new cats(?) that means that the mother is based nearby. She may have chased this litter away because she now has a new, younger litter – they have one in early spring, and one in autumn. MATURE females breed around mid-January, and have their kittens (9 weeks later) in March… Your juveniles (born last spring) will mostly likely go into heat in May/June.
    I have an alternative view on huts – I like big ones (like the one pictured) because cats can clump together to keep each other warm (not that they won’t squish into a small hut). I think the key to staying warm is not to warm up the entire room you’re in with your body heat, but to warm just the layer of air that surrounds you like a sweater – meaning that DRAFTS are the enemy. A small shelter with a large entry opening means that you can’t get away from the draft (OR warm the entire space with your body heat). Whatever the size, it’s important to face the opening towards the house (and close to the house, under the eaves) to prevent direct blasts of wind and snow.


  9. StephanieZ
    December 6, 2019 @ 12:22 pm

    I bought my outdoor feral the fanciest shelter with a real roof. Its from feralvilla. That asshole has yet to go in it. I’ve had it for 2 years. I move it around periodically hoping he’ll decide to enter. I’ll put treats in it and see if he goes in. Nothing. He’s a dick.


    • Linda
      December 6, 2019 @ 2:01 pm

      ROFL! Just like when you buy your child that expensive toy they wanted so so bad and then they ignore it and spend hours making a fort out of the box it came in! Does this house have 2 entrances/exits? If there’s a predator around or another bully cat he may not be using it out of fear of being trapped in it. He knows best what threats are around or who he perceives as a threat. When I build my feral cat houses I add a small hinged back door of clear plastic/plexiglass. It lays flat against the exterior and does not open to the inside, so it blocks the wind & isn’t easily entered through, but it does give them an emergency exit as well as a view of their surroundings. It seems to work for my most stubborn wild ones (which often have been ones who I’ve trapped in order to fix and they’re not about to be trapped again!)


  10. Darling Lily
    December 6, 2019 @ 1:11 pm

    I am laughing in sympathy with Stephanie… my ferals didn’t go in their feralvillas for a looooong time. Then last winter we got down to 20 below, and they were suddenly very interested. I am a big fan of the design and have several.

    My only gripe with straw is mites. From my chicken-keeping days, I know straw is bad for harboring the little bastards. My own cats used to choose open bags of straw I had lying around while I was setting up the feral shelters over coming inside at night, but my vet says ear mites are torture for cats, so I am reluctant to use straw anymore. Any thoughts?

    I like the insulation board for a variety of reasons.


    • Chrissy
      December 9, 2019 @ 1:22 pm

      Try sprinkling diatomaceous earth before laying the straw. It kills mites, and you don’t need to use a lot.


      • Darling Lily
        December 9, 2019 @ 11:45 pm

        Thank you!


  11. Lisa D.
    December 6, 2019 @ 1:57 pm

    You’re an angel for posting this, Victoria. I’m wondering though, if cutting the plastic with an exacto knife, or any other knife for that matter, wouldn’t make the entrance hole jagged enough to scratch or potentially injure the cat, or am I wrong? Obviously one has to cut an opening, but, if I’m correct, is there a way to protect the cat from the sharp edges?


    • Bernie
      December 6, 2019 @ 3:54 pm

      Duct tape around edges of hole to prevent injury??


      • Darling Lily
        December 9, 2019 @ 11:47 pm

        Empty nursery pots with bottoms removed work well.


    • Laura
      December 6, 2019 @ 7:21 pm

      Yes duct tape works perfectly.


  12. Bette
    December 6, 2019 @ 3:56 pm

    I have friends that are very involved in TRN. I live in a very rural-ish area. I dont see many feral cats, but I am afraid a shelter like this might attract raccoons, and possums that are plentiful….so I think I’ll pass. Besides, I’m in Florida, so we only have a very few days (if any) of freezing weather.


  13. Marianne in Mo.
    December 6, 2019 @ 4:47 pm

    In my area, we have a lot of “old country folk” who still believe all animals belong outside, that having babies is the natural order, and that they also don’t have to keep the babies. They will dump them, kill them or just let them die. My big issue is, if we did TNR, we would also be paying for these peoples’ animals to be neutered and fed. Is it really feasible to expect us to try and reduce the population when these folks will just continue with new animals? We also get a lot of “dumped” animals, because we are “in the country” where it is easy to do. I try to support animal welfare in our area, but it is very grass roots and very frustrating. Our county government is trying to shut down the only no kill animal shelter we have because of one neighbors’ complaint!


  14. Sue Gold
    December 6, 2019 @ 5:07 pm

    I love that you do this too!❣️I have been TNRing for several years now. I have a sweet cat that lives in our garage, her choice, for 2 1/2 yrs. I also had her microchipped so if someone picks her up and takes to a shelter, they can call me and not put her down. She is fully vaccinated and gets her flea/worm treatment monthly. Our entire family loves her and would happily allow her inside but she is not down with that and loves her bedroom! (garage😂) Since it is difficult to always trap feral cats…when injured, colloidal silver is wonderful to add to their wet food. The best one I have found I order from amazon, Silver Wings Colloidal Silver 250ppm. Read up about it…I treated a sick and limping cat back to health with it. Doesn’t seem to hurt the possums that stop by to eat dinner either.🤗😍🤗


    • Barb Carey
      December 7, 2019 @ 6:58 pm

      Hi Sue, we too have a feral cat who lives with us in our hay barn (her choice). This is her 3rd winter with us. She has a DIY cooler shelter to be warmer in the barn, her food, and water and seems to prefer her solitary life. My spoiled housecats would never have made it on their own as well as she has done. I wish I had thought of asking to have her microchipped.


  15. Kitd
    December 6, 2019 @ 5:14 pm

    What is the difference between straw and hay? Thanks.


    • Laura B
      December 7, 2019 @ 11:22 am

      Hay is meant for food, and is slightly green and moist – which is less insulating and can get moldy. Straw is used for bedding and is dry. It’s usually what’s found at garden centers and country markets.


  16. Mary
    December 6, 2019 @ 9:53 pm

    Thanks for all you’re doing for community cats. I wish more folks had your compassion. I’ve been trapping cats for around 20 years, and fortunately for me the city where I live has a very good TNR program. I’ve made all kinds of shelters through the years, and an important feature for my area is a 2nd entrance/exit to allow the kitty a chance of escape if a predator comes around. Cats are so funny and have distinct preferences about where they’ll sleep, so it can be a challenge. I have 2 who’ve lived in my backyard for 3 years, and this winter they’ve rejected all their old shelters. I made them a small tent in a protected corner of my patio and they love it. It’s made of frost blankets that are usually used for plants, straw and more frost blankets are inside, and I also lined the interior with space blankets to reflect body heat. So far so good! I’m in Austin, so your temperatures are much colder than ours.


  17. Lois Raphael
    December 7, 2019 @ 11:38 am

    I don’t know if anyone else has mentioned this… Our local no-kill shelter gives out straw (or hay?) in the winter to people who are caring for outdoor cats. Check to see what resources your local shelter has to assist you with keeping your community cats comfortable in the winter.


    • Lois Raphael
      December 7, 2019 @ 11:46 am

      (It’s straw, not hay that my local shelter offers to caretakers. Sorry for the confusion.)


  18. Barbara Fiore
    December 7, 2019 @ 3:31 pm

    I love you and how you care for the stray cats and kittens, also your interior designs are pretty awesome too❤


  19. Sur
    December 7, 2019 @ 7:26 pm

    My feral cats that I fed are now snuggled up, far and fluffy on a little alpaca blanker next to me as I’m reading this.Living the good life. It was a long slow process to get them to trust us and each other.
    All the cats I’ve had over the years I’ve never gone and picked out a cat, they’ve always found me.


  20. Evelyn Calderas
    December 7, 2019 @ 10:29 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I love caring people like you, if there were many humans like us this world will be a better place for all, animals and people.
    We need humans with a heart on this world, sadly in my area people is so hostile to strays, but somehow that gives me the strength to not give up in them, and be their voice, feed then and TNR them.


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