We did it. In partnership with Anti-Cruelty and HSUS, three of Tree House’s team members showed up on the tarmac at Chicago Executive Airport in Wheeling, IL to meet 181 dogs and cats. With PAWS Chicago, Felines and Canines, Green County Humane Society, and Animal Care League, we took in almost 200 animals to make room at the Tulsa Humane Society in Oklahoma for the animals who need shelter while they’re separated from their families during the storms.
They were hot. It was noisy. There was a lot of meowing. But we got them all back to Tree House safely and the rest of our team took over unloading them, getting them into the clinic, and processing each one. Some went right to the floor for adoption. Others are too small and will go into foster. A few more are awaiting space on the adoption floor to open up. All are safe.
It’s days like today when someone like me, your writer, is thankful to work in animal rescue. All the way over here in Chicago, our community of rescuers and supporters came together to offer relief to animals and their families halfway across the country. The work is hard but so rewarding and it’s impossible not to be utterly, completely thankful on days like today that there are people out there who care enough to make sure these animals are safe and sound. Being out on that tarmac today brings an indescribable joy and satisfaction that I’ve never felt in any other place. Of course, not every day feels as heroic as today. Not every day includes airplanes and tarmacs, engines, running around, and hundreds of animals. Some days are quiet. But all days are important. And all days, we need each other because the animals need us.
Tomorrow, Tree House is joining the Anti-Cruelty Society and the HSUS for a major transport of animals, almost two-hundred cats and dogs. They are coming from the Tulsa, Oklahoma Humane Society in order to make room there for the hundreds of animals who have been separated from their families by the storms that need to stay local; we’re taking the ones who are already looking for homes.
We don’t normally take in this many animals at once, so we are going to need some help. After all this transport, these animals might get sick or stressed and need some time to recuperate. We’ll need foster homes for them so they can do just that. If you’ve ever wanted to foster, now is the time. Visit Treehouseanimals.org/foster to find out more and apply.
And if you can’t foster, please donate. We’re going to need funding to help all these displaced kitties out, so anything you can spare would help. You can see more at treehouseanimals.org/okstormcats.
We’ve noticed recently that people have been coming in to play with the cats. Not to adopt, just to play. How did we notice? Because our cats have been utterly exhausted at the end of the day, sometimes even way before the end of the day. And so, we must do what’s best for the cats.
We have to end unrestricted play time for non-adopters.
We know! Our cats are amazing. They are special and sweet and wonderful and sometimes, there’s nothing better than to show up and just cuddle them for awhile. And we still want you to do that, so we have another option for you: our fabulous cat cafe.
We have stocked that cafe with some amazing cuddlers. Nayla, Dr. Jones, Jaspurr, and Felicia are all waiting specifically to hug and snug while you chug the beverage of your choice made by our barista. Of course, because there are only a few of them and they also need a nap, we request that you make a reservation so it doesn’t get too crowded and so you can get plenty of cat time. You can make one ahead of time here
you can walk in and ask if there’s some time available and our staff will help you out. Yes, it costs $10 for 30-minutes, but it comes with a drink! And we are a non-profit, so all those $10 bills go right back to taking care of the cats we all clearly love so much.
The point is, from now on, any cuddling has to be done in our cafe, unless you’re planning to adopt. If you want to adopt, come on in and meet one of our counselors. They’ll introduce you to some fabulous future family felines who we have kept fresh, just for you.
And for the rest of you cat lovers? We still welcome you, we still appreciate you, we still value you. We just have to do what’s best for the cats, and we know that that’s something you want, too.
We are so excited to let everyone know that the long-awaited cafe` is now open for business!
As Chicago’s very first cat cafe within a shelter, we had a few ordinances to work with and a few hoops to jump through, but with a lot of help from our community, our supporters, donors, volunteers, and Alderman Debra Silverstein’s office, we have finally succeeded! We currently have five fabulous FeLV-positive kitties just waiting to meet you and knock your coffee on the floor politely sit with you.
Why FeLV-positive kitties you ask? Because they need you. They are healthy cats, but they have a virus that can cause complications down the line. They’re harder to adopt out because of a stigma around this virus, and just a few years ago (and sometimes still today) they are euthanized upon entry into a shelter. Programs like the one here at Tree House give other shelters who cannot care for these animals a place to send them to give them a second chance. Putting them front and center in our cafe` gives us the opportunity to speak more about this virus to help destigmatize it in the public eye and give these cats the possibility of a loving home. The more of these cats we can place into homes, the more we can save.
We think that when you meet them, you’ll see that there’s really no difference between the love they can offer you when compared to an FeLV-negative cat. They may have a shorter amount of time in which to do it, but that means the love even harder for the years they have left.
Please come join them for a cup of coffee or tea! Appointments can be made at our Cafe Page. We book in 30-minute increments, $10 per person, and that includes a drink of your choice made by our barista. We can’t wait to see you!
Ah. You’ve clicked. That means you want to save a life. That means we’re on the same page, you and Tree House. There’s one really easy way to do it. Ready?
That’s it. Every cat you foster is a life saved, especially for kittens under six weeks of age. CACC can’t keep kittens under six weeks, so they have less than 24 hours to find a safe place. We can pull them, but we HAVE to have a place to put them, and because kittens’ immune systems are delicate and they’re too young to be vaccinated, they need a safe place to rest until they’re big enough and strong enough to become full-fledged cats and come into our shelter.
Do you have a bathroom? Perfect. That’s all they need.
Do you have a spare room with a door to keep them separated from your resident animals? Great. You’re ready.
Do you live alone and have no other pets? Fantastic. You’re the perfect candidate.
It’s not hard, and once you do it, you’ll see why it’s one of the greatest experiences you, as a human, can have.
Ok, so he doesn’t actually live in a forest, but he does live in a Tree House (and he spends a lot of time on the floor), and we’re hoping to change that. See, Leonardo has been at Tree House since 2017. That’s a long time. Now, let’s take a look at this face and see if you can spot anything that would make it hard for him to get adopted:
Nope. Looks good, right? Ok, MAYBE he looks a bit older than he is (he’s actually only 6). Maybe his eye is a little goopy. Maybe he has FeLV (he does, that’s not a maybe), and FIV (he comes fully-loaded) but in addition to all that, he also has love! Love to give YOU, the one person in the whole world that he’s been waiting for to see through his slightly rough exterior right into his soft, lovely heart.
Imagine yourself sitting on the floor, right next to Leo on his very favorite Kingdom, him in his soft, comfy throne with a plate of wet food, you with whatever it is you like to do. You would pet him gently, but you would know when to stop and would respect his wishes, as is his right. Now, imagine the best part of all of this: that you single-handedly gave a second chance to a little guy who really, really needed it.
Leo doesn’t mind other cats, but Tree House recommends (in some situations)* that he live with other FeLV-positive kitties. Lucky for you, we have them! (See Ginger below) He would also prefer a chill, quiet home, one with plenty of floor on which he could impose his will.
If you think Leonardo could be the kitty of your dreams, come in to Tree House to meet him. Ask for him by name; we all know him here.
We hope to see you soon. So does Leonardo.
*Tree House doesn’t recommend sending an FeLV-positive cat into homes with kittens or geriatric cats. However, see our adoption counselors to see if he might fit into your existing cat household.
**This post was updated shortly after posting to reflect Leo’s FIV-positive status (we don’t think too much about it and forgot to include it) and Tree House’s new guidelines on mixing FeLV-positive cats with FeLV-negative cats. **
Hey you. Yeah, you there. I’ll bet you like kittens. It might be a little or you might already be wearing one on your t-shirt right now. If they’re not on your shirt, they might be on your socks. If they’re not on your socks, they’re probably on your mind. We know they’re definitely on OUR minds here at Tree House because it is just about to be kitten season. And what happens during kitten season? Kittens arrive. And then they need medical care. And food. And love. And they need to grow. Why? So we can spay and neuter them so they can go on to lead a long, fruitful life as someone’s best friend while not bearing any kitten-like fruit.
Now, let’s talk about the rub, for there is indeed a rub: Kittens aren’t generally spayed or neutered until they’re at least 2 lbs, which is around two months or later, depending on their health when they come in, and they can’t be admitted to our colonies until they’ve had their surgeries and vaccinations. So, where do the kittens go from the time we get them until they’re ready?
That word deserves its own paragraph because that’s how important it is. If you want to directly save a life, you foster. You see, if Tree House (or any rescue, for that matter) has open foster homes, we can pull more kittens from CACC because we know we have a safe place to keep them. If we have no place to keep them, we can’t pull as many. Every foster home equals AT LEAST one life saved. And if you take a whole litter of kittens? MORE lives saved!
Tree House needs two things right now: Long-term fosters and emergency fosters. If you are able to keep newborn kittens in a safe place for up to 72 hours, we need you. Those 72 hours are crucial and give us a place to stash these little critters while we find them the other thing we’re looking for: long-term fosters.
Our long term fosters will keep the kittens until they’re ready for the adoption floor. This is usually from 6 weeks to a few months.
Imagine it: you watch them grow, you love them, you scoop their boxes, play with them, enjoy them, and then, you set them free. Not back into the street, obviously, but into Tree House where they’ll find the homes of their dreams, all because of you.
PS If you want a little experience before you accept your first foster friend, come to our Kitten Shower & Foster Recruitment Event this coming May 5, from 11 am to 1 pm. We’ll play some games, provide some foster information, have some snacks, and we MAY have a visit from some kittens. It’s $10 per person, RSVP required.
Last Sunday, many of us from Tree House (staff, fosters, volunteers) gathered in our community room together with ten other rescue organizations to take a class from the National Kitten Coalition (NKC) that delivered important information about saving more kittens. Presented by Rosemarie Crawford, the class covered topics ranging from providing urgent care to kittens upon intake to dealing with infectious diseases and how to offer supportive care for illnesses likepanleukopenia. Everyone walked away with a comprehensive handbook and much more confidence to go forward caring for little ones.
Tree House was also able to host the NKC for an afternoon session aimed at helping shelters/rescues start or improve and expand their foster programs, a particularly important initiative during kitten season, when it seems like the little guys are falling out of the sky. This was all thanks to a grant from Maddie’s Fund to the NKC so that they are able to offer this lifesaving program to organizations who need it. Topics included information on how to find fosters, the benefits of fostering (For this writer, it has always been the joy of seeing kittens in my bathtub), how to fund your programs, and how to set your fosters up for success throughout the program. Thanks to Maddie, Tree House and all the organizations who joined us are now ready to improve our foster programs for this season and in the coming years.
A big thank you to both the NKC and Maddie’s Fund for making this day happen. We were so proud to host you and all of the wonderful organizations who joined us for the day so that, as a community, we can do more to help further our unified cause of saving lives.
P.S. For our readers who are curious about fostering, send us an email at fosterATtreehouseanimals.org to learn more. Olga and Kate, our fabulous foster team, will answer all of your questions with no pressure to go forward if you decide it’s not right for you. We’ll even be having a foster recruitment Kitten Shower this year on May 5, from 11 am to 1 pm (details to come) if you want more hands-on demonstrations. Fostering is a direct way to save a life (or many tiny lives) so if you’re even a little, kitten-sized bit interested in bottle feeding, snuggling, cuddling, and helping to raise a furry little friend who will always hold you forever dear as their very first loving human, send us a note. All you need is a spare room and a big heart.
Earlier this week, I went on a ride along with Bob, half of our fearless Community Cats team known affectionally here as ZZTrap, thanks to their luxurious beards. The intention was to teach me more about the process and to get some great photos to show our community how hard these guys work to reach needy cats around the city. I got more education than I had anticipated.
A large part of TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return), and very likely the most important part, is the Neuter (or spay, in the case of a lady cat.) Every season that cats are left to procreate makes harder work for shelters and rescues in the future, and without the Neuter, cats take their duties very seriously and stay busy (pun kind of intended) all season long.
On this particular day, Bob was visiting a home that had numerous cats requiring our services and set up a plan for trap placement. Tree House uses humane traps (which we loan out free of charge for 2 weeks to intrepid trappers who want to help with Mission: TNR) with some delicious tuna to lure the little guys in. Once they’re trapped, we cover them with blankets to keep them calm and transport them safely back to our shelter where they’re cared for until their surgeries.
Bob surveyed the space, discussed a plan with the homeowner who’d been caring for these cats, and set up his traps.
And then we waited. After a brief period, we got one cat, a large male. He looked at Bob, Bob looked at him, he wondered why and how he’d been detained by a garden gnome, and then we covered him with a blanket to keep him calm and gently stowed him safely in our van.
After a small catch, Bob re-assessed the trap placement, and then we waited. In the end, we caught five cats, all of who were taken in to Tree House and given the medical care they needed. All five were assessed for level of socialization, a process Tree House follows for all incoming cats. Any who love to be with people are adopted out and any who would prefer to live their lives without human contact are placed back safely and with kind parting words.
After a successful trapping, Bob and I went out once more to do a site survey. When Bob gets a call about cats needing help, he’ll visit the site first to see how many cats are around and what the situation is like so he can best prepare to help. After knocking on a few doors and talking to neighbors and other involved parties, Bob creates a plan and helps all the cats he can.
We visited one particular site that had some things I didn’t want to see or photograph, but then I thought of you all and how it’s really important to share the things we see here as rescue workers so you know what your donations are going towards. On this day, we saw a lady cat, a lady cat who, we have no doubt, will say “Hurray for spay!”
If you’ve ever wondered why one litter of kittens might have brothers and sisters that look so different from each other, I believe Tree House has successfully put that question to bed for you, so to speak.
And, so you know, we also have a fine example of another cat here who Bob, in his wisdom, turned to me and said, “I’ll bet that one is probably neutered.”
Bob will be back to help these cats.
I hope you enjoyed our Tree House Community Cats ride along and that you find it enlightening and informative. Should you feel the need to help further our TNR goals, we’re currently running our “Neuter is Cuter” campaign. $50 provides a neuter for one male cat and a good night’s sleep for innumerable lady cats.
Thank you for all your support. We couldn’t do it without you.
PS. Our blog now has a newsletter sign up on the home page! Enter your email to get notified about all of our upcoming blog posts. We publish one every Friday to let you know what we’re up to.
We need you. Without volunteers, Tree House would melt. Well, maybe not MELT, but we might start to sweat and then we’d have no one to help dry us off. We’d have no one to enrich the cats with bubbles and bird videos. And we’d have fewer people to insert microchips, administer vaccines, and keep track of our all-important Pet Food Pantry, which would set us behind in our goals, and the cats don’t like when Tree House gets behind in our goals.
Stormy is concerned we’ll get behind in our goals.
Volunteers help make Tree House what it is. And right now, we have a few needs:
Our Pet Food Pantry program needs a Manager and Assistant. Shifts are alternating Thursdays when the Pantry is open to the public. Shifts are 9-12, 12-3, and 3-6.
The Cat Cafe (Coming soon….we promise!) requires some assistance from Assistants who will help maintain the cafe colony room, greet visitors, and monitor visitor/cat interactions. Shifts will be Thursday through Sunday from 11:30 – 2, 2 – 4, and 4 – 6:30.
We are ready to break last year’s TNR numbers and want to hit 1,200 Spay/Neuter surgeries this year. In order to do that, we need:
A Spay/Neuter Admin Assistant to help with data entry and administration duties. Shifts are Tuesdays, with flexible times.
A TNR Assistant. This one’s more of a clinical role and will require someone who wants to learn to administer vaccines, place microchips, and other basic clinic procedures. Shifts are Tuesdays, 8-1 or 11-4.
Interested? Wait. Before you say no, think again. Think about how good it would feel to help a non-profit. Think about how cool you’d be if you said, “Yeah, I helped neuter a cat today.” Think about how light your heart will feel when you hand a family the food that will allow them to fill the belly of their furry loved one during a difficult financial time.
Now that you’ve thought about all that, visit our volunteer page and fill out some info. Our Volunteer Coordinator, Shannon, will call and have a chat with you. Then you come to an orientation. Then you pick a shift. And then the magic of giving back to your community begins. Simple!