Hyde Park Cats is run entirely on donations. We accept cash or checks (we have a donation jar at Parker's Natural Dog and Cat Market) in Hyde Park, or you can use the Paypal button on our home page. We are not a 501c3 organization so those donations are not tax-deductible. We also accept donations of items such as cat food (open bags OK!), cat carriers, humane traps, old towels, etc.
Tax-deductible donations can be made directly to Tree House Humane Society for the exclusive use of Hyde Park Cats. To make a tax-deductible contribution, please send a check to:
Tree House Humane Society Bucktown Branch
ATTN: Doug Stoltzfus
1629 North Ashland Avenue
Chicago, IL 60622
Checks should be made out to Tree House Humane Society with Hyde Park Cats designated in the memo line. These donations will be used toward spay, neuter and vaccination veterinary services for Hyde Park Cats ferals and friendlies. Please note that to be credited to the Hyde Park Cats account, donations must be sent to Doug at the Bucktown Branch of Tree House.
Donations that come directly to Hyde Park Cats are also used for veterinary services, mostly at our local vet office. We buy our own FVRCP vaccine and booster the cats ourselves to save money! We also use donations to buy food for our outdoor cats, and sometimes supplies for our fosterhomes. Other uses include buying supplies for our once-a-month meatball-making day. Meatballs are for the dogs at the Animal Welfare League, and making them together is a great hands-on activity for our volunteers. We use donation money for a very limited amount of overhead such as stamps (to mail out adoption packets or other business correspondence). Nobody at Hyde Park Cats is paid for their work or time.
"Last year I decided that I wanted to adopt a kitten so of course I turned to Hyde Park Cats. They convinced me to take not just the one kitten but also one of her littermates. It was the best decision I ever made. Flurry and Cupcake eat, sleep, and play together. They sit together in the window watching the world go by, groom each other constantly, and stampede through the house chasing each other. They keep each other company, comfort each other, and amuse each other. If one of them suddenly notices that the other is not in sight, he walks through the house crying until she runs out to join him.
They are inseparable; I'm so glad I didn't separate them."
Most cats, regardless of age, are highly social and are happier living with other cat companions (or sometimes with a dog or rabbit). This makes them better pets, which results in happier owners.
Kittens are no exception.
Kittens want and need interaction with other kittens for healthy social development. A kitten learns from its mother and littermates. Separating a kitten from its mother is often necessary for adoption. But taking a kitten away from its littermates can delay his development emotionally, socially and physically. Kittens who remain with a littermate or a similarly-aged companion are healthier, happier and better socialized.
Kittens are curious and crave constant stimulation. A single kitten may become bored and entertain itself by chewing on plants, climbing drapes and furniture, unrolling toilet paper, or exploring electrical cords and sockets. It is less likely that kittens who live with other kittens will engage in these dangerous and destructive behaviors.
Kittens are active at night. A single kitten may awaken you with jumping, pouncing and other hunting behavior. However, two kittens will occupy each other by finding interesting shadows to chase and games to play until they finally tire and fall asleep, too.
It's normal and appropriate for kittens to "play bite" and wrestle with each other. Without a litter mate or other kitten to play with, a kitten will bite and wrestle with you, which is unacceptable. Even if you allow this behavior from your kitten when it's small, once the kitten matures, your adult cat will have learned these bad habits. If your kitten grows up with another kitten, this negative behavior is minimized.
Even if you are fortunate enough to be home during the day, the attention a single kitten demands may occupy all your waking hours. A pair of kittens will also want to interact with you, but they can occupy each other while you are carrying on daily activities.
Think twice about bringing a kitten home to a senior feline resident. A kitten may have too much energy for an older cat. Kittens want to play and run constantly and require a lot of interaction. This may overwhelm and irritate an older cat, and the kitten may be frustrated her elderly companion doesn't have her energy level. This makes two very unhappy cats, and behavior problems, such as litter box avoidance or destructive scratching. Long-term, the two may never have a close relationship because their initial experience with one another was negative. An older cat is better matched with someone of her own age and temperament.
Adopting a single kitten or young cat is not a good idea. Trying to keep a single kitten occupied, stimulated, safe and happy while also going about the business of everyday life is much more of a challenge than it may seem upon first consideration.
Our goal is to ensure we are adopting our cats and kittens into a loving home for life.
Hyde Park Cats is always in search of fosterhomes! Foster parents care for one or more cats, depending on circumstances, for anywhere from a few days to several months.
> you love cats but know you're only going to be here in Hyde Park for a year (two years, etc.) > you love cats but can't support a cat financially right now > you think you love cats, but you're never had one before > your apartment has inadequate heating and you need a lap-warmer > your yarn collection is too neat and you need a cat to play with it > you live alone and need a cat to greet you when you come home > you live with others and need a cat to complete your group > you want to help solve the cat-overpopulation crisis in a small but concrete way
We ask you to provide food and litter, although this is negotiable if it's what is standing in your way of fostering. Veterinary care is on us. YOU provide LOVE, CARING, and SUPPORT for a homeless cat.
We got this kitten from a well-intentioned Hyde Parker who had put an ad on markplace for a kitten "free to a good home." The owner, who genuinely cared for the kitty, got her on Saturday from a relative's girlfriend (whose cat had kittens) but thought she might be developing allergies, so kitten had been spending her nights in a carrier on the porch. We're happy we could intercede with this kitten, because "free kittens" often have a very rough ... and short ... life.
It costs more to take a "free" kitten to the vet for deworming, spaying, and vaccination than it would to pay the fee to adopt a rescue cat. So a free kitten might end up with an owner who can't afford or doesn't care to provide veterinary care. Then when the cat gets sick or pregnant -- out it goes. People who get free kittens from strangers often do so because somebody trying to get rid of kittens will not do reference checks. Some of these people then take kittens into apartments or student housing where they are not allowed pets. When they're caught and face the choice between eviction or getting rid of the cat, out the cat goes. Or free kittens end up at animal control, and the owner just doesn't bother, and instead gets a new free kitten. Sometimes free kittens and cats (and other pets) end up as dogfighting bait, reptile food, or possibly even lab animals.
Don't fool yourself into thinking these scenarios are statistically insignificant. Where do you think all the stray cats come from?
What To Do If You See A "Free To Good Home" Ad
What can you do about free kittens? If you come across people trying to give away kittens for free, refer them to your local humane society. Offer them info. If necessary, help to spay the mother cat so that this doesn't happen again! If this is somebody on the street (or a "lemonade stand"), just take all the kittens and bring them to your local humane society. You will be doing everybody a favor.
If you see an ad, contact the person. Let them know about the dangers of "Free To Good Home" ads and tell them to proceed very carefully with the adoption, to do reference and landlord checks, etc. You can come prepared with a sample application! Do not feel embarrassed to contact the person who posted the ad. Many people are grateful that you took the time to inform them of dangers they were unaware of. Urge them to consider taking the kittens to the local rescue. If nothing else, take them yourself and bring them to the local rescue or humane society.
If the ad you found was on the internet, contact the site owner to request that they forbid the posting of ads for free animals on their site. Also contact your local newspaper and ask them to run a warning about placing "Free To Good Home" ads. Here is a sample letter.
Of course, we're also here to help you with your questions about adopting and integrating our cats. Beyond our volunteer core, we have a listserve with about 200 members on it, many of whom LOVE to give their two cents on various cat issues. We would be very happy to try and answer your questions! Remember, though, we are not veterinarians, and can only give our advice as "cat people," not as veterinary professionals.
Someone who thinks cat ownership is for him/her but isn't sure. An older cat provides a calmer, more sedate introduction to cats and for a shorter time. You're not looking at a 18-year commitment when you adopt an older cat.
A person who doesn't want to deal with the energy level of a young and active cat.
Someone who prefers the known over the unknown. An adult cat will have established personality traits, whereas the majority of kittens have similar personalities and predicting their future personality based on kitten behavior is difficult.
Someone looking for companionship for another older cat! Often an adult cat would like the companionship of another adult cat, but wouldn't appreciate the antics of a kitten.
A person who wants to really contribute to rescuing animals in need. Young kittens are easy to find homes for, but, there is a lot of satisfaction in providing a final home for a cat who's been displaced after the cuteness of kittenhood.
And finally, anyone who has ever owned an older cat before. That person knows that though kittens are cute and young adults are fun, the companionship and gratitude provided by older cats is truly the best.
READERS. This paper was written by my nephew for a middle-school project. Please leave your constructive criticism in the comments. He is particularly interested in thoughts on action items! Thank you for helping the next generation of TNR activists.
The Feral Crisis
Seventy to seventy three percent of cats and kittens that enter shelters are killed there. More surprising than that is why some are marked for death. Cats are killed not just for being sick, but for being feral or to put it more simply – wild. There is a huge disparity between public opinion and course of action. Alley Cat Allies took a survey that shows that 81% of Americans believe that it is more humane to leave stray cats outdoors to live out their lives in contrast to 14% who believe that stray cats should be killed in shelters. It is the policy of government funded animal shelters and animal control agencies to kill stray/feral cats rather than return them to their habitat. Taxpayer dollars, and state and local laws, support trap and kill as the solution. Not only is killing feral cats in animal shelters against public opinion, it is also not an effective way to deal with feral cat overpopulation. Trap, Neuter, and Return, or TNR, is a better solution that is humane, less expensive than trap and kill, and will better control the population.
Cats are an 8,000 to 10,000 year old species that have always lived outside and done very well. The animal control agencies want to redefine the cat species as indoor only but history shows us that cats are meant to be outside also. County Animal Control Facilities are funded by the county government. It is the role of these Facilities to catch and euthanize feral cats to stay inline with local leash laws. Feral cats are considered domestic animals and therefore always considered to be off leash and in violation of the law. If Animal Control supported TNR they would be in opposition of the laws they are supposed to enforce.
Today the cat population across the world is estimated to be around 600 million so we need to establish a humane and effective policy to help cope with this number. The only working method to get a handle on feral cat overpopulation is TNR. Cats are trapped in humane traps, surgically sterilized by veterinarians, and then the cats are returned to their colonies to live out a healthier life. In fact, some call TNR TTVAR which stands for trap-test-vaccinate-alter-return. So you see, not only are the cats neutered, they are also tested for contagious diseases and vaccinated to prevent them. So, feral colonies that have been through TNR are generally healthy and thriving. I have grown up around and grown to love cats both domestic and feral. I believe that the problems created by feral cat overpopulation are real and serious and know that TNR is the humane solution.
There are many reasons that TNR is a better option than killing. TNR is the only effective method of lowering the feral cat population. TNR fosters good relationships between humans and cats while decreasing the size of the colonies. Following TNR, cats become healthier and gain more weight. Cats in colonies are less likely to hunt birds as their human caretakers provide food. Aggressive cat numbers decrease after TNR. Diseases such as feline AIDS, feline leukemia, and even rabies are better controlled with TNR programs as animals are tested and vaccinated. Unfortunately not even TNR can save all of the feral cats. Those cats that test positive for some of the highly contagious diseases must be humanely euthanized for the sake of the colony but these same cats would have died a horrible death otherwise. These are only some of the benefits of TNR.
There are lots of components necessary to maintain a successful TNR program. The Maryland SPCA has established a program called Feral-Fix with the purpose of helping the stray/feral cat population through TNR. The SPCA has outlined specific expectations of the feral cat colony and its caretaker. Caretakers must provide a safe place with feeding stations and shelter. Specific dates must be arranged with trappers and veterinarians for TNR so that cats are not left in cages for longer than absolutely necessary and trappers must learn safe and humane trapping methods. Cats must also be carefully monitored following their release back into the colony. Caretakers are responsible for tracking colony numbers and submitting reports back to the Maryland SPCA. In return the SPCA offers low cost spay/neuter services and low cost vaccinations. The caretaker is still responsible for raising all the money needed to pay for the low cost Feral-Fix cat services, as well as all money needed for the food, shelter, etc. Caretakers that do not have a program like Feral-Fix must contact local veterinarians and unfortunately most times end up paying full price for veterinary visits.
As for financial impact, an extensive study was very recently done titled “The Fiscal Impact of Ferals,” by Sandy Miller of Best Friends Society, March 19, 2010. “The study estimates that trap and kill programs cost the state $250 per cat (for trapping, enforcement, sheltering, food, supplies, laboratory testing, and euthanizing)…while discounted TNR programs cost the state just $100 per cat (for trapping and a packaged TNR procedure.)”
The current leash law makes it impossible for the animal control facilities to see TNR as an option even though TNR is more humane and less expensive than catch and kill. In looking to make a difference my next steps would include lobbying for a spay/neuter assistance program funded by the government to assist TNR programs, (suggesting that a small portion of proceeds from county animal licensing be put towards TNR programs), working towards changing the current leash laws to not include WILD cats, and looking to begin a TNR program in my community.
We are always seeking foster homes. The more foster homes we have, the more cats we can save; it's as simple as that. Fostering can be long- or short-term. To apply, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coming into your home will be a big transition for your foster kitty; even the friendliest cats generally dislike change. Please read this FAQ on 'new cat.'
Who feeds the cat and pays for vet bills?
We try and distribute food and litter when we get donations, but we expect our fosterers to be able to purchase food and litter on an ongoing basis. We are responsible for the cost of veterinary care.
Will I get to choose which cat I get?
Although we will ask for your preference or ability (for example, can you foster more than one cat, nursing mother, etc.) you don't get to choose specific cats. Our organization is so small that it is on an at-need basis. We will hear about a cat in need, or another foster family will go on vacation and we’ll email to ask if you can take the cat in. If for any reason a particular cat is not working out we would do what we could to transfer quickly. It is the nature of cat rescue that not all of the cats will be cuddly kittens, some will be "right off the street" and it takes a bit of time and TLC to get them cute and cuddly. Remember, your job isn't to have a pet cat; it's to make that cat a good pet for someone else. Please also remember that the foster/adoption team (including you!) is made up of volunteers doing the best we can. We appreciate fosterers who can be flexible, friendly, and have a sense of humor.
What happens when a potential adopter visits?
Adoption visits will be scheduled in consultation with you. We will never give out your address or phone number. Another Hyde Park Cats volunteer will attend the meeting; your job at the meeting is to give information about your fostercat's personality. We don’t do same day adoptions: the adopter will be asked to get organized and come back to pick up the cat after his/her house is ready.
What do I need to do as a foster parent?
Provide love and attention, food, water and litter. You should also buy a scratching post (cheap ones readily available and we often have them to give you). Groom your cat, pet your cat, talk to your cat. Your job is to make the cat as adoptable as possible. Some cats will arrive to you "ready to go." Some may help with their presentation (going from scruffy to shiny). Others will be shy or scared. You should spend as much time as possible socializing and training the cat. Please see below for socialization guidelines.
We also ask our fosterers to send us regular updates regarding the cat's personality, with pictures. We use this info and the pictures to create blog posts, Petfinder profiles, etc. Without this information, we cannot "shop" the cat to appropriate adopters, so this is a very important part of the work.
But I don't know a lot about cats ...
It's OK. We are here for you and our network of volunteers is available 24/7 by email (a little less available on phone). Even if you've never had a cat before, we are interested in hearing from you!
But I have a studio ...
That's OK and in some ways preferable (the cat will be forced to spend time with you.
If you have pets in your home, all resident pets must be neutered and vaccinated.
Aida Bobby Chandra (MIA) Dana Emilie Felix Gino (MIA) Harper Jules Kerry (MIA) Luka Mona Nino Onyx Pixie
(removed from alley and found homes or at Treehouse: Mimi, Bessie, Izzie, Qwerty, James Bond, Twinkletoes, Czarina) (removed and adopted: Fawn)
In and Around Black and White Cat World Rambam Rachamim Ellis Finzi (RIP) (aka Rachel) Little Buddy Nimr Ingleside Kennedy (aka Daisy Mae) Golden (aka Karo) (removed: Juniper and four kittens, Remus, Juniper's second-litter kittens TC and CeCe)
Mamico Naru Marcie Peppermint Patty Linus
PARKVIEW KATZ Colony
(have list, need to transcribe!)
Porchcats (B & W Cat World neighbors) Ethel, Fred, Carmen (Lucy not caught): MIA, March 2010
Squashie (three kittens removed)
Other HP areas Patinkin Willa (RIP) Demetri black male off Cornell/55 Heartie
Evan black and white male FIV+ (inside) Roger orange male FIV+ (inside Frida (TNadopted) tabby
Rufette 4/2011 black and white female Stormy 4/2011 gray male Will Feral 4/2011 black female (pregnant)
Hyde Park Cats is against the practice of declawing. We do not declaw our cats, and we don't want our adopters to do it either.
The main reason we are against declawing is because it means amputating the last joint of the toes of the cat. Their claws are fused to their toes and cannot be removed without cutting off the last joint of their toes. This is not only incredibly painful but also can lead to many behavior and health problems.
We are also against the practice of tendonectomy. An alternative surgical procedure, deep digital flexor tendonectomy, involves severing the tendon attached to the end toe digit but maintaining the claw in the sheath. The cat is no longer able to extend the claws. The technique limits the cat's ability to damage surfaces when scratching as long as the claws are kept trimmed. It is less painful (cats recover within 2 days) and it has minimal postoperative risks. However, ongoing claw trimming is a must or the cat can use its claws again to some degree and there is a risk of ingrowth into the paw pads. Some veterinarians have reported joint fusion and arthritis problems. The technique has not been favored by most veterinarians mainly because of the above negative factors and the potential of the client's dissatisfaction and ultimate desire for declawing.
An informative page on declawing: http://www.declawing.com/ written by the veterinarian who developed Soft Claws (the nail covering alternative).
Declawing is not like a manicure. It is serious surgery. Your cat's claw is not a toenail. It is actually closely adhered to the bone. So closely adhered that to remove the claw, the last bone of your the cat's claw has to be removed. Declawing is actually an amputation of the last joint of your cat's "toes". When you envision that, it becomes clear why declawing is not a humane act. It is a painful surgery, with a painful recovery period. And remember that during the time of recuperation from the surgery your cat would still have to use its feet to walk, jump, and scratch in its litter box regardless of the pain it is experiencing. Wheelchairs and bedpans are not an option for a cat.
Your cat's body is perfectly designed to give it the grace, agility and beauty that is unique to felines. Its claws are an important part of this design. Amputating the important part of their anatomy that contains the claws drastically alters the conformation of their feet. The cat is also deprived of its primary means of defense, leaving it prey to predators if it ever escapes to the outdoors.
There are MANY ways to minimize a cat's scratching on furniture, etc. These include behavior modification, clipping your cats nails, providing suitable surfaces for scratching, etc. Our volunteers are happy to talk to adopters about these issues.
Many shelters have cats who are already declawed. If you know in your heart you only want a cat who has no claws, please do not adopt a cat and have it declawed. Adopt a homeless declawed cat from a shelter or rescue.
FAQ's about declawing and scratching
1. Why do cats scratch? Cats scratch because it is a way of marking their territory, exercising their front limbs and because it gives them pleasure.
2. Why do cats scratch the furniture? Your furniture feels nice, and it is there. It is tall enough to give the cat a good stretch, and it has nice resistance. It is what is available in the cat's home. But if you provide the cat with its OWN furniture that also performs these functions, the cat will not need YOUR furniture.
3. What can I do to keep my furnishings intact? You can train your cat to use a scratching post or scratching rug and trim the front claws (if you like).
Also, you can get Soft Paws. Soft Paws are lightweight vinyl nail caps that you glue on the cat's front claws. They're great for households with small children and are extremely useful for people who are away from home all day and can't exercise the watchfulness necessary to train a cat to use a scratching post. Soft Paws® are easy to apply and last about four to six weeks. You can find Soft Paws® on the web by clicking here or call 1-800-989-2542.
4. How do I get my cat to use a scratching post? Remember that an important part of scratching is the cat's desire to mark a territory, so a scratching post should be in an area that's used by the family, not hidden in a back corner. After a time you can move the post away to the periphery of the room, but you'll need to do this gradually.
Some cats like to scratch horizontally and some like to scratch vertically. Observe your cat and buy accordingly. Corrugated-cardboard scratchers are widely available and cheap. Many cats like sisal rugs. Most cats love to have a piece of furniture that is theirs. This should include an area to scratch. Any pet store will have a variety of cat furnishings with scratching areas.
Initially, put the post where your cat goes to scratch. This may be by a sofa, a chair or wherever Kitty has chosen as her territiory, and you may need more than one post to cover her favorite spots. Security is a major factor in making the post appealing to your cat. If it topples or shakes, she won't use it. It should either be secured to the floor or have a base wide enough and heavy enough to keep it stable.
Encourage Kitty to use her post with clever enticements. Feed her and play with her by the post. Rub dried catnip leaves or powder into it. Make all the asssociations with the post pleasurable. Reward her with a favorite treat when she uses it. Have her chase a string or a toy around the post or attach toys to it, which will result in her digging her claws into it. Eventually she will learn to love it and regard it as her own. It's also a good idea to put a post where Kitty sleeps. Cats like to scratch when they awaken, especially in the morning and the middle of the night. If space permits, a scratching post in every room of the house is a cat's delight. The most important place is the area of the house in which you and Kitty spend the most time. I have many sisal posts in my house, yet often in the morning my cats line up to use the one in the living room.
If at first Kitty is reluctant to give up her old scratching areas, there are means you can use to discourage her. Covering the area with aluminum foil or double-sided tape is a great deterrent. These surfaces don't have a texture that feels good to scratch.
Remember too that Kitty has marked her favorite spots with her scent as well as her claws. You may need to remove her scent from the areas you want to distract her away from. You will find pet odor removers in pet stores and many supermarkets as well.
Cats have an aversion to citrus odors. Use lemon-scented sprays or a potpourri of lemon and orange peels to make her former scratching sites less agreeable to her.
If Kitty still persists in scratching the furniture, try squirting her with a water gun or a spray bottle set on stream. Another option is a loud whistle or other noise-maker. You must employ these deterrents while she is scratching for them to be effective. The point is to establish an aversion to the spot you don't want her to scratch.
5. How do I trim my cat's claws? It does not have to be a major procedure to trim your cat's claws, but every cat is different. Some cats won't care at all. Other cats may need some persuasion. If you have never cut your cat's nails before, start by just holding her paw. See if she is bothered. Then make one nail come out. Still not bothered? Get your cat used to the feeling before actually cutting.
If you are adopting a cat for the first time, our volunteers can show you how to do this procedure. Most of us do it all the time.
Gently hold Kitty's paw in one hand and with your thumb on top of the paw and forefinger on the pad gently squeeze your thumb and finger together. This will push the claw clear of the fur so it can easily be seen. You will notice that the inside of the claw is pink near its base. This is living tissue that you do not want to cut. Trim only the clear tip of the nail. Do not clip the area where pink tissue is visible nor the slightly opaque region that outlines the pink tissue. This will avoid cutting into areas that would be painful or bleed. The desired effect is simply to blunt the claw tip.