Obese, Filthy, FeLV+, FIV+…Saving Leo

Leonardo was in bad shape when he arrived at Tree House. He was so obese, weighing more than 20 pounds, that he couldn’t even groom himself. His hair was matted and filthy. Leonardo was diagnosed with Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), and he had very painful and severe dental disease.

He Might Not Survive Surgery

Given his weight, performing surgery to heal his dental problems was too risky. Waiting also had its challenges. The infection in his mouth could easily become something more complicated since his immune system was already very compromised.

Most shelters would have euthanized Leonardo. Tree House knew this gentle cat could recover and deserved a second chance.

With care and a special diet, Leonardo began to improve, and when he lost 20% of his body weight, he was finally able to have his dental surgery.

A Svelt and Beautiful Guy

Leonardo has fully recovered and is doing very well. He continues to lose weight slowly and looks great. Leonardo’s energy has returned, and he loves to play. He is one of the easiest-going cats you’ll ever meet, and he enjoys laps and pets. Leonardo is ready for a new home and lifelong companions.

Millions of Community Cats Who Need Help

There are millions of community cats living outdoors in the United States. Some, like Leonardo, are strays who like to interact with humans and would do well in a loving, indoor home.  However, the majority are feral and do not want contact with humans. Once they are spayed/neutered and vaccinated, the outdoors is their home.

Tree House believes that all cats deserve to have the homes and care that are best for them. We make a difference in cats’ lives every day.

Members Help Cats Like Leo

Members are critical to our ability to help cats across our community. Please join us to  help us fulfill our mission of giving cats a second chance at a better life—indoors or outdoors.

Dozens of Cats Roaming in a Chicago Neighborhood

A couple of weeks ago, Lori called Tree House from Chicago’s Portage Park neighborhood asking for help with the cats roaming around her block. Bob Sutton and Elise Ericksen, Tree House Community Cats Field Specialists, went out to investigate and were amazed by what they saw.  Bob shared, “There had to be at least 20 to 25 cats milling about when we got out of the van.” Elise added, “It’s unusual to see so many cats in the middle of the day. That tells me there must be many more around here.”

A Common Situation in Many Neighborhoods

This situation is prevalent in many neighborhoods across the city, and it underscores the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of outdoor cats living around us. Most are feral cats. Some are strays that can live indoors.

An Expanded Commitment by Tree House

In August, the Tree House Board of Directors and senior leadership completed a strategic planning process and committed to refocus and redouble the organization’s efforts to address community cats.

The Portage Park cats are an example of how Tree House works with residents to create safe and healthy environments for outdoor cats while working to contain the population through spay/neuter efforts. The first step is working with neighbors to carry out targeted Trap, Neuter and Return services focused on the area’s outdoor cats.  Fewer cats having litters is key to making a dent in overpopulation. Second, Bob and Elise recruit volunteers to serve as Colony Caretakers. The Caretakers regularly feed the cats and check for health issues. Many also provide winter shelters for their colonies. Caretakers also watch for new cats coming into the colony so that Tree House and volunteers can immediately trap and neuter the newcomers to prevent pregnancies and the birth of more community cats.

Together We Can Create a Better Environment for Outdoor Cats

With community investment and teamwork, communities can manage their cat populations and provide safe, healthy environments for outdoor cats in their neighborhoods.

Tree House Director of Operations Speaks About Community Cats

Darlene Duggan, who manages the Tree House Community Cats program, recently talked about the future of community cats and the issue of cat overpopulation. Listen to the interview here:

You can be a part of the solution by donating to support our efforts to help community cats.

To Tree House Humane Society >>

Volunteer Feature: Long-Time Supporter Shares Her Story

A Tree House adopter and long-time supporter, Lynne recently started volunteering with our Adoption team. She shares why volunteering matters to her and about getting her “cat time”. 

How did you hear about Tree House? 

I adopted my two cats from Tree House in 1997, and I’ve been receiving Tree House mail and contributing since then.

How long have you been volunteering at Tree House? 

I’ve been volunteering for about a year. The new facility is closer to where I live, and I had decided that when Tree House’s new building opened I would volunteer.

What drew you to volunteer for Tree House? 

I believe in Tree House’s mission and how the organization takes care of its animals. My two Tree House cats lived long lives and passed away a couple of years ago. I did not know that my son is terribly allergic to cats when I adopted them (he was not living at home at the time). He would visit, but it was highly uncomfortable for him. I’ve moved into a smaller apartment and, for various reasons, I decided that I would not adopt another cat after losing my two. I am retired now and have been donating for years. I thought I might as well give my time, so this is how I get my kitty time.

After I finish my shift, I’m invited to take some “cat time”.  So I go home happy! But my son continues to ask me if I’ve brought anyone home yet.

What do you find rewarding about volunteering? 

Non-profit organizations like Tree House couldn’t be successful without volunteers. It is rewarding knowing that I can help. The Adoption Counselors are very good about thanking me and saying that my work is appreciated.  I feel like I’ve really accomplished something. This past year, I was trained on the organization’s animal and clinic database. The training offered by the staff helped me learn what I needed, and all the adoption counselors are happy to help when I get “stuck”.

Lynne helps enter data into our “cat” database. Her time and help is an important part of the behind-the-scenes work that is needed to operate our shelter (plus, she is an amazing baker and brings incredible treats for which we are so grateful!)

What do you think of the work that Tree House does and why it is important? 

In my role, I have an opportunity to read the files of admitted cats as I enter the information into the database. I am constantly amazed at the medical issues these kitties have and how much they are cared for at Tree House. Not everyone thinks that helping these cats is of value, but there are people who think it is worth it. And it takes money. The organization needs the people who work to raise the money to help these cats. It has to be incredibly expensive, and yet, it’s all done with love. I know all the Adoption Counselors love the work they do and it shows. Based on what I’ve seen, I don’t know if other shelters would take such good care of the cats.

What would you say to others who are considering volunteering at Tree House? 

If you love cats and want to do something that enables you to be around them, Tree House is a good place to be.

If you want to help a good cause, full of people who care about the animals, Tree House is a good place to be.

If you have a little extra time in your life to give to a good cause, Tree House is a good place to do it.

We are so grateful to Lynne and all of our wonderful volunteers for the hundreds of hours they give to Tree House. There are so many roles that go unseen but that are vital to enable us to do the work we do. We are making a difference in cats’ lives thanks to so many people who share our passion and support our work by volunteering. If you are interested in learning more about volunteer opportunities at Tree House please complete our volunteer application and our volunteer coordinator will follow up with you. 

Tree House Humane Society >>

Sherlock Adoption Update – FeLV+ Cat is Home

At Tree House, we believe every healthy and treatable cat deserves to have a forever home – including cats with special needs and chronic illnesses such as Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV).

First FeLV+ Adoption Program in Chicago

So, What is Feline Leukemia Virus

Many people are unfamiliar with FeLV, and, sadly, many cats who have the disease are euthanized due to a lack of adequate resources or knowledge. FeLV positive (FeLV+) cats can live happy and healthy lives even though their lives might be shorter than an FeLV negative cat. Tree House knew there had to be a better way, so we created a permanent FeLV adoption room at our new shelter.

Tree House became the only shelter in Chicago, and one of the few in the country, with a dedicated adoption program for FeLV+ cats. Since that time, we have become a resource for shelters throughout the Midwest, and many FeLV+ cats have been transferred to Tree House who might otherwise have been euthanized.

It’s Not Cancer

Contrary to some beliefs, FeLV is not cancer. It is a virus that breaks down a cat’s immune system, making the cat more susceptible to illnesses that otherwise do not impact healthy cats. These secondary illnesses are what typically lead to an FeLV+ cat’s death. While the estimated lifespan of a cat with FeLV is three to four years, we’ve had many FeLV+ cats who have lived much longer.

Sherlock is a great example of a cat who is doing very well with FeLV. A burly cat with a great personality to match, Sherlock is a loveable guy who was transferred to Tree House from another shelter that lacked the resources to help him. He is a healthy and happy FeLV+ cat who is now four years old.

Curious and silly, Sherlock loves people, and it was a wonderful day when Morgan and Katherine came to Tree House for a visit and gave this great guy a home. After visiting several other shelters, Katherine shared, “I knew the minute I walked into Tree House that this was the place for me.” She returned that weekend with her husband. They were open to learning more about FeLV – it is always so heartwarming when potential adopters are willing to give cats with special needs a chance and take the time to learn more about FeLV.

Sherlock loves his new “cat daddy”.  After talking to our adoption counselors, Katherine and Morgan felt that it was something they could easily handle, “Every kitty in the FeLV+ adoption room would have been an option for us, but Sherlock was ours from the beginning. [It was] love at first sight.”

Sherlock is settling into home life very well. “We are very grateful to Tree House for taking such great care of Sherlock and helping us find him.”

Sherlock likes to sit on his quilt and watch the traffic go by. He loves all his toys – for about three minutes, and then it is time to clean himself and pretend he was not just acting the goof. He is a constant companion – on the couch, in the bed, and right by the chair at mealtimes.

Giving FeLV+ Cats a Second Chance

We are thrilled for Katherine, Morgan, and Sherlock. We hope this story inspires others to learn more about cats with Feline Leukemia Virus and to consider adopting them. These cats deserve a home, and while the time you have with them may be less, the love and joy they bring will fill your heart for much longer!

Support our efforts to help FeLV+ cats and the many other cats who struggle with illness, injuries, and chronic medical conditions.

Scared, Sick, and Disoriented – Wandering in a Busy Street

Isaac was clearly struggling. Imagine the terror this poor cat was feeling: trapped in the middle of a busy Chicago street — turning in every direction, only to be confronted with another car rushing past. Isaac didn’t know how to get to safety.

It was only a matter of time before Isaac would be hit by a passing car and severely injured or killed.

Drivers Sprang into Action

Remarkably, several Good Samaritans saw that he was struggling and stopped their cars in the street, surrounding Isaac to protect him from oncoming traffic. One driver jumped out of her car and pulled him to safety. Immediately, she could tell Isaac was suffering and called Tree House for help!

In Bad Shape

When Isaac arrived at Tree House, he needed urgent care. During his initial veterinary examination, our clinic team discovered that Isaac had severe and painful infections in both ears and very limited vision — both of which contributed to his disorientation. He was also missing 13 teeth and suffering from dental disease, which is not uncommon for cats who are malnourished from living on the streets. In addition to treating his ear infections and extracting several infected teeth, we biopsied his tumor.

 When Isaac arrived, his first and most noticeable condition was a large raw tumor bulging on his right shoulder. Tests revealed his tumor was cancerous. But this beautiful cat’s good fortune continued — the type of cancer he had rarely spreads or recurs. We removed the tumor and his prognosis is very good!

A New Start

We placed Isaac with one of our foster parents so he could rest and recover and have the security of a warm bed, food, and water along with the love that he so desperately needed.

Isaac has healed incredibly well both physically and emotionally. He is a bit camera shy but a sweet and affectionate cat who turned out to be a real snuggler. He loves taking naps on a comfy lap. Despite being a senior cat with limited vision, Isaac is an active boy who enjoys playtime.

Ready for a Home

Thanks to people like you, Isaac is safe at Tree House and ready to be adopted. We hope this deserving cat will not have to wait long for his new home! Please share Isaac’s story to help him find a loving home.

Your Gift Helps Even More Cats Like Isaac

There are thousands of cats just like Isaac living outside in Chicago – many of whom are struggling. We believe every cat deserves to live a safe and healthy life.

Your Donation Helps Give Them a Fighting Chance!

To Tree House Humane Society

Adoption Update: Ella & The Healing Power of Cats

We have a heartwarming update about a cat named Ella. This stunning beauty was found roaming the streets and brought to Tree House. Coming off the street and settling into shelter life can be challenging, and Ella’s fears and anxieties came out in the form of overstimulation. Shelter life was difficult for Ella. She was hesitant and cautious at Tree House and liked to have her space. Sadly, this made it hard for individuals to get to know the sweet cat underneath her fears…until one fateful day when she met her new family.

Addie (12 years old) and her mom, Liz, began visiting Tree House when Addie was just 7 years old. Liz shared that Addie struggled with anxiety, and the pair began volunteering. Being at Tree House and with the cats and kittens was very positive in helping Addie learn how to work with her “everyday worries”. For several of her birthdays, this compassionate little girl conducted collections at her parties to raise money for the cats in lieu of gifts.

“Ahhh…life is so good in a home!”

A few months ago, after losing their cat Teddy after 22 years, Liz and her husband, Eric, along with Addie decided to check out Tree House’s new shelter – but with the agreement that there would be no adoptions because Eric wasn’t quite ready.

The family met Ella and were provided with some guidance on how to approach her to help avoid overstimulating her. However when they entered her room, “Ella walked right up to Eric and sat down in front of him. We hung out for a little while, then Addie and I moved on to the next room, but Eric stayed with Ella. Needless to say, when we left, we all decided we needed to spend more time with Ella.”

Liz, Eric, and Addie came back to visit Ella and that was all it took, “She broke our hearts and healed them at the same time, and we brought her home that day.”

We are so grateful to Liz, Eric, and Addie for taking the time to understand this beautiful cat, see beyond her anxieties and fears, and give her a chance.

Ella is doing great in her new home! “She’s very curious about where we are. And when we come home, she runs out like a puppy to greet us.” Ella loves her morning “zoomies”, “She runs the path from the basement to the 2nd floor of the house.” She also enjoys soaking up the morning sun in the bay window.

Addie has given her a middle name, so she is now Ella Forrester Brown – plus, she started an Instagram account for Ella. “We love her very much.” The family continues to work with Ella’s overstimulation issue which has improved. She is even attempting to become a snuggler.

We are so grateful to Liz, Eric, and Addie for giving Ella a second chance and a loving home. What a wonderful story about the cat-human bond as well as the powerful healing effects this bond can have on children!

You can change a cat’s life. Help us spread the word.

To Tree House Humane Society

New Friends, New Home, New Life: Sammy and Morris Adoption Update

We are happy to be able to share an adoption update about two easygoing cats, Morris and Sammy, who were recently adopted together.

Liang and her husband Casey visited Tree House, “determined to adopt that day after the recent death of our beloved cat Mieville.” Casey had adopted Mieville many years ago before meeting Liang. Mieville was Feline Immunodeficiency Virus Positive (FIV+) and had 11 good years in his forever home, “We attributed his calm, kind demeanor to the wonderful socialization he received at Tree House. When we were ready to fill our home again, we knew we had to return to Tree House at their amazing new location.”

Now fondly referred to as The Beefy Boys, these two have taken over their new home. These lovable guys can be found wrestling each other, lazily lounging around their new home, or meowing ferociously — begging to be fed.

Liang shared their experience of meeting Morris and Sammy at Tree House, “The Saturday of adoption day, both of us were wracked with nerves. We were so excited, but had no idea what to expect! All we knew was that we would shortly be growing our family by two. Casey and I both agreed that we wanted to adopt adult cats and were open to cats with special needs. Sammy was in one of the first cat adoption rooms we visited. He approached us right away and perched gracefully on a cat condo. His sleek, tuxedo coat and cute black goatee drew our attention, and he loved rubbing his face and neck against our hands. [He had] a shy demeanor, and the most adorable “elevator butt”! He was instantly one of my favorites.”

They continued visiting cats at our shelter when, “This beefy orange and white, 15 lb. furball strutted into the middle of the adoption room. We loved how he [Morris] seemed like a luxurious boy, commanding to be petted. Despite his big ‘tude’, he was also very gentle and welcoming. We considered how these two cats would get along and decided to take the chance.”

The two cats love to wrestle and hang out together. After arriving in their new home, “By the end of the first night, Morris was walking around like he owned the place. Sammy was hesitant and slowly came out of his shell over the next several days. Introducing the two to each other was  a breeze — they nose-booped and the rest is history!”

“Sammy and Morris have brought so much joy into our lives. We will continue to adopt from Tree House for the rest of our lives as they have truly helped us in so many ways!”

Morris was obese for his size when he arrived at Tree House. We are glad to learn he has continued to slim down in his new home, “his svelte new figure weighs in at around 13 lbs!”

We are so grateful to Liang and Casey for giving these beauties a loving, forever home together and for their wonderful support of Tree House.

You can help a homeless cat by adopting or donating to help us save more lives. Give to Tree House >>

 

To Tree House Humane Society

Black Cat Bash 2018 Photo Gallery

What a Party!

This year’s Black Cat Bash was a great night of food, fun, and furry friends. We had guests from throughout Chicagoland as well as from across the country! Proceeds from this event support our work to save sick, injured, and stray cats. Thanks to all our wonderful supporters. A big thank you as well to our tasting partners — Amazing Edibles, The Bad Apple, BUB CITY, Dream Cakes, Foodlife, HUB 51, Octavio Cantina & Kitchen, RPM Steak, and Wow Bao, for the incredible food!

Thanks to everyone who supported the Bash. The homeless cats who were at the shelter that night were intrigued by all the activity, and it truly was all for them. Thank you for being a part of helping save their lives!

To: TreeHouseHumaneSociety

Photos provided by Susie at CrimsonCatStudios.com

A Bittersweet Happy Ending Story: Love, Loss, and Catships

While this is a bittersweet story, it is also a heartwarming one about two Tree House cats, Cloud and Cashew (pictured l to r), who found the loving forever home they deserved.

Loss and New Love

Shortly after we moved into our new shelter, Jacob and Matt visited Tree House on the suggestion of friends. Sadly, they had lost their cat Peanut very unexpectedly due to a heart issue. Their other cat Noodle was very lonely without his buddy. Jacob and Matt knew they were a four-member household and decided to adopt another cat. “We were mightily impressed with [Tree House’s new facility] and wanted to see it for ourselves.” The visit was also difficult, “…a mixture of sadness about losing Peanut and the stress of trying to choose just one cat to be the right one.”

After meeting various cats at our shelter, Jacob inquired about cats who were attention-seekers, similar to their cat Peanut. That’s when they met Cashew and knew he was the one.

Cashew and Noodle became quick friends, and the family settled in.

Cashew settled into his new home very well. He was an affectionate cat and a true love bug.

Another Heartbreaking Loss

It was doubly heartbreaking when Cashew fell ill just a few short months after being adopted. He was diagnosed with cancer and passed away shortly thereafter. We are so glad he was able to have a loving home — even if only for a short period of time — and the care and compassion he deserved in his last days.

A Twist of Fate – Cloud’s Return

Jacob shared, “Because we had such an incredible experience with Cashew…and we had such a first-rate experience when adopting him [at Tree House], we felt it was only right to honor Cashew and his memory by giving another cat in need the vacant place he left in our household. Enter Cloud.”

It seemed to be fate that Cloud (who also resembles Cashew) was returned to Tree House the same day that Jacob and Matt also returned to Tree House to find a furry family member and to honor Cashew’s memory.

Cloud had been adopted from Tree House shortly after Cashew but was returned through no fault of her own. Ironically, as she waited in our clinic admissions room, Jacob and Matt had been meeting other cats in our cat adoption rooms. They hadn’t quite met their match, and Tree House staffers just had a feeling….  Staffers asked if Jacob and Matt would like to meet Cloud.

“What a trip Cloud was…she chatted and chatted and chatted. We were able to get her to play with a string toy, and after that, she rubbed our legs and continued her serenade.” Fate truly stepped in that day to bring this family together.

Cloud settled in quickly…it only took her a couple of days to manage to escape from the bedroom, and Jacob found her resting calmly in the living room with Noodle nearby. It was clear that these two cats were going to be the best of friends. Cloud and Noodle are very close and often cuddle together.

Enough Love

We are incredibly grateful to Jacob and Matt for all the love they have shared with all of these cats. As so many can appreciate, grieving the loss of a beloved pet is painful and takes time. We are glad that Cashew received so much love in his final months and days and that Cloud received the gift of a loving home in his memory. We wish the entire family (furry and human) many happy years together.

Goofy Finds a New Girlfriend – Adoption Update

A New Home for a Senior Cat

We are happy to share an adoption update about a senior cat who now has a second chance. Goofy (now named Cairo) was in need of a new home after his guardian suffered a serious illness and could no longer care for her cats. It was a heartbreaking situation. Fortunately, Cairo did not have to wait long before he found his new home.

Tami adopted a senior cat, Billy, from Tree House several years ago. Sadly, this sweet cat passed away suddenly in May, due to a heart issue, and Tami’s other cat, Florida – whom she also adopted from Tree House, was left without a buddy. Tami knew she wanted to find a new friend for Florida and visited Tree House. Tami felt an instant connection with Cairo. “He was very shy when he first met me but also very polite. He is also very handsome – with a beautiful orange coat. He seemed like a wonderful cat, very dignified and calm.” She knew he was the one!

A New Girlfriend

When Tami took Cairo to his new home, he was very timid at first and hid under the bed or in the closet. While he had his own room to acclimate for a couple of weeks, Tami brought him out each evening to say “Hi” to the other cats.

Florida and Cairo seemed to ignore one another, and Tami thought the two might not hit it off as she had hoped. But, they just needed time to adjust, and soon, their “catship” grew. The two cats are now the best of pals – “they are always sleeping next to each other and giving nose kisses. Florida is so thrilled to have a new friend, and I think Cairo is very happy to have a female cat who is very interested in him.” Cairo spends his afternoons sleeping on the sun porch and is quite fascinated with the birds and squirrels.

The Joy of Senior Cats

When asked about adopting senior cats, Tami mentioned that senior cats have more life experience. She believes they are more centered in themselves and can adjust to their surroundings very well.  Moreover, “I think adopting a senior cat is not much different from adopting a younger cat. The two options have much more in common than one would think. Cairo is still the same beautiful cat individual at the age of 14 that he must have been as a two or three-year-old cat.” She added, “…older cats are as much fun if not more fun than younger cats. There is also a certain wisdom to senior cats, an inner beauty – an extraordinary dignity.”

We could not have said it better. We are grateful to Tami for giving this dignified and sweet gentleman a loving home. We hope this will help others consider the joys of adopting a senior cat.

Give a Senior Cat a Loving Home

Volunteer Roles Adopt A Cat Button