project leader
Susan K
location
1439 W. North Avenue
(Northside)
latest update rss
National Cat Day

the project

A core group of neighbors representing about 1.5% of Northside residents work tirelessly as volunteers to address a community problem that impacts each of us - the prevalance of homeless cats in every neighborhood.  NOTE - Thanks to the Buhl Foundation, we can access a 100% match of your donation in any amount! 

There are a lot of homeless cats on the Northside of Pittsburgh. Some are dumped, others are born outside. They face short, cruel lives with limited supplies of food and water, much less veterinary care and human companionship. The romantic notion that they survive with the same savy as true wildlife is unsound. 

A lot of our neighbors step forward to fill the role of "caretakers" of feral/homeless cats by providing clean water and food. Some are in the position to trap the cats to be spayed or neutered and then returned or adopted when possible. This TNR process is a vital step toward reducing the population of homeless cats, but also improving the quality of life of the individual cats. Caretakers pay for everything out of pocket, often out of the kindness of their hearts and on a fixed income. These relationships between caretakers and homeless cats are important for everyone. 

Tools for trapping cats to be TNR'd or when medical needs flare up are not readily accessible. The Pittsburgh Northside Cat Ladies and Friends want to address this by creating a "lending library" of sorts with traps, nets, crates, gloves, and other items that allow for the safe capture and transport of homeless cats. By keeping this 'catbrary' on the Northside, it can be quickly accessed as well as tracked to ensure items are returned. 

It is obvious this will help the cats, but what about the human caretakers? There are several key areas where this will have an impact

First, the volunteers doing this work will have more resources and tools to do their jobs effectively. This increases their success rate while decreasing their workload (and stress.) Being able to drive from Troy Hill or Perry Hilltop down to Manchester to pick up a drop trap from a neighbor is far easier than adding a trip to Munhall or Tarentum. And having to return the trap back to Manchester means it will be available that much sooner for the next caretaker. 

Second, this project also reinforces contact among hyperlocal volunteers that can increase our resiliency to do this work. Spending time together in social settings, including a Facebook group, builds community and reduces isolation doing what can be lonely work. While some trapping projects are group efforts, it is often solitary efforts that occupy our time - cleaning and maintaining feeding station, sitting on a chair or a box or on the ground waiting and watching a baited trap. Even the collective work at veterinary TNR clinics is so fast paced that there is little time for team building work. 

Third, raising the visibility of this work will increase engagement with neighbors as volunteers, supporters, investors, and allies. Someone who feels a pang of sadness when they see a stray cat may be more likely to dive into solving the problem if they know there is a robust group of neighbors already involved to offer guidance and encouragement. I know from personal experience that someone coming to sit with me or sending me a text or helping me transport a trapped cat can make a tremendous impact on my willingness to keep going and keep trying. 

Fourth there are benefits for all neighbors on the Northside. This will increase awareness of non-lethal ways to address concerns about feral cats such as breaking into garbage cans or spraying on property. TNR programs are funded primarily by nonprofit organizations and individual caretakers, thus reducing the tax burden on departments likes Animal Care and Control. More public information on how to engage feral cats reduces ignorance and encourages neighbhorly interactions. TNR'd cats are healthier in general which reduces risk of illness from fleas, ticks, and the behavior of cats desperate for a meal. 

Finally, there are opportunities to engage more sectors of the community. We are in talks with the local 'workshop' instructor to incorporate feral cat feeding stations and shelter building projects into the student's curricula. Our local food pantry currently offers pet food for their clients who are also our neighbors - we can pursue new distribution opportunities to support housepets as well as feral cats. There are no regional resources for pet food for feral cat colonies. Our neighbors at Mr. Sign will continue to accept donations of dry and wet cat food to make it easier to distribute to the colonies and encourage more donations. We can support the Northside outreach efforts of Animal Friends. 

 

the steps

  1. Purchase items and supplies through HCMT to get the best prices.
  2. Make sure each item is labeled or tagged.
  3. Store items at a HCMT volunteer home on the Northside or homes if multiple volunteers emerge. 
  4. Print and distribute information about the tools to disseminate to cat feeders and trappers throughout the region.
  5. Share information using Faceook groups, Nextdoor.com, veterinarians and pet professionals, as well as word of mouth. 
  6. Encourage neighbors to contribute to the ongoing cat food drive to help caretakers with their colonies. 

why we're doing it

In March 2019, we published a Q&A with a long-time volunteer with the Homeless Cat Management Team. Reading her responses will help everyone understand the issues of homeless cats and the needs of the community to address them. 

These cats are not wild creatures, even those who have turned feral because of their length of time living outdoors. Cats are domesticated creatures and cannot simply be turned loose to survive on their own like they once did hundreds of years ago. Supplies of food and clean water are often limited. Health care needs go unattended creating cruel and inhumane conditions. And reproduction rates exacerbate the problem.

As a Northsider, I spent several months trying to trap a stubborn young female who had at least two pregnancies. We fostered one set of five kittens, all of whom have been altered and adopted. But she was fierce. Fortunately, a resident of Munhall had a drop trap and was willing to come to our home and help. She caught her in under four hours. That cat has now been spayed, vaccinated, micro-chipped, and released after it was determined that she would not adapt to a domestic life. Her own lifespan odds have greatly improved. 

We got lucky that the right person with the right tools read about our plight. Providing a 'lending library' of these tools directly on the Northside, we can expedite volunteer responses as well as educate neighbors about the need for TNR work. When someone says "I have these cats and need help" we can offer concrete tools as well as the advice and experiences of wizened cat rescuers to connect people with spay and neuter clinics, veterinarians, shelter options and more. 

budget

These items will be stored on the Northside for easy access by Northside based rescuers, available to others upon request. These items were chosen to help with Trap, Neuter, and Return (TNR) efforts as well as for feral cat colony management such as trapping a sick feral cat for veterinary care. This will work like a "little library" with borrowers asked to replace items they use (zip ties, batteries) and donate what they can to keep the supply current. These items will be the property of the Homeless Cat Management Team. 

  • 2 Drop Trap and Transfer Cage sets - $500
  • 3 large feral cat traps - $300
  • 3 cat trap dividers - $100
  • 4 sets of veterinary leather gloves - $400
  • 2 nets with extension poles - $300
  • 4 two-door top loading kennel/crates for cats up to 20 lbs - $200
  • 4 kitten traps - $200
  • Miscellaneous supplies such as flashlights, batteries, zip ties, bungee cords, pliers, WD40, screwdriver, plus go case - $200
  • Tags and labels for all items - $100
  • Shipping - $200
  • Food - all excess monies

 

 



PROJECT FUNDING NEEDED = $2,390
ioby Platform Fee $35
ioby Donation Processing Fee (3%) $75
TOTAL TO RAISE = $2,500

 

The Northside is about 7.96 square miles. Preliminary data indicates that there is one feeder for every five square blocks. Feeders typically provide their own supplies for food and water. We estimate about 650 feeders in the Northside neighborhoods. Feeders are not necessarily trappers. We will work with both feeders and trappers to TNR cats on the Northside tapping into a range of resources and organizations doing this important work. 

A locally based kit will allow for a rapid response when 'new' cats turn up in colonies or when sick or injured cats need immediate help. This can also be helpful to unexpected situations such as when a pet cat accidentally gets outside. 

Food is an ongoing need by some caretakers (feeders) many of whom are on fixed incomes. We currently have a fund to purchase food supplies and have an active Amazon shopping list. By offering food to caretakers, we home to build relationships and support them in accessing resources such as TNR clinics, feral friendly veterinarians, and mutual support. 

Finally, we'd like to organize a few gatherings of Northside cat ladies and friends to build community and raise visibility. 

updates

National Cat Day

Happy National Cat Day. Here is a pic of two of our ferals enjoying breakfast in the feral feeding station we recently added to our deck. 

 

Second donation and match

Hurrah! Cat sleeping on top of grollhere is a pictre of our Oksana napping on our grill ... 

First donation AND match!

Hurrah - our first donation! 

 

photos

This is where photos will go once we build flickr integration

donors

  • Anonymous
  • Zarina Rowland
  • Tara Czekaj
  • Kel
  • Dan
  • Lucy & Penny
  • Sophia Sanders