Practicing and promoting Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) in DuPage County, Illinois

We're a 501c3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting and practicing Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) in DuPage County, Illinois. We believe that TNR is the only effective, humane and long-term solution to the problem of cat overpopulation.
Hello Friends!

It's COLD outside, but you probably already know that. And if you're worried about your feral friends...

"First Do No Harm"
We are getting calls from people worried about how the cats are going to handle the below freezing temps this week and next.
If the cats are healthy, if they have survived well to this point, if they have shelter of some sort, they should be fine.
The outside wall of a foundation can be as warm as 50 degrees, cats tend to accumulate debris to form an insulating layer close to a foundation if they are sheltering under a deck.
Cat shelters, as long as they are protected from wind blowing in, can be very toasty. Leaning a board in front of the door, forming a foyer before the cats turn to get into the shelter can be a big help.
Cats can gain several pounds for the winter, that layer of fat insulates them well. The worst thing you can do is entice a cat out of its shelter just to check on it. That interrupts warmth, expends much needed calories, brings them out into the harsh conditions you wish to protect them from. Even if you don't see them for several days, they can tolerate it, with reserves they have built up for just this purpose. Have plenty of dry food available and try to have unfrozen water available for several hours each day.
Most cats will seek you out if they need help, that is when you should respond. Do not assume a limping cat is injured. Ice clumps can form in the hair on the pads of their feet, making it uncomfortable to walk. Ice melts, limping goes away.
People will let feral cats into their homes to save them from freezing temperatures.  
There are consequences. If the cat freaks out, it will try to climb the windows and anything else it can. If it has a flea egg or two, those will hatch out. Usually they are really good about litter box usage but then there's that male that will be fearful and anoint everything it can. By the same token, if this cat has truly decided to be an inside cat, it will be careful, quiet and considerate. Be sure to really think about it before you open that door. We get calls to trap ferals in homes in the Spring, cats who were not prepared for inside life.
Some stray cats were able to be returned to their owners this year because the people finding them used a "Next Door" Facebook page to advertise them. If you have a "Next Door" group in your neighborhood, please share our winter cat care tips. If you then help just one cat, you will have done a wonderful thing!
Thank you for caring about the cats! 

Feral Fixers
Winter Cat Care
As the recent weather has reminded us, winter is here! And feral cats need extra care to help protect them in these conditions. There are several websites that contain excellent information about how to help the feral cats make it through the weather. Some of our favorites are:
Why Shelters? While cats are often great about finding shelter on their own, this can lead them to places that might be dangerous for them (warm car engines) or areas where the property owners don't want them (basements, boiler rooms. Other times, there's just no sufficient option for them. These are all reasons providing an insulated shelter (if you have the property ownership or permission) is a great idea for community cats in cold climates...Why Food and Water? Feeding a measured amount of food is a key to responsibly managing feral cat colonies and this doesn't change in the winter! What does change is that everything freezes quickly!
Yes, everything can freeze quickly. In addition to the websites mentioned above, TorontoStreetCats has an excellent article (this is a downloadable .pdf file) about how you can make a Do-It-Yourself Water Bowl Warmer for your outdoor furry friends. If you are unable to run electricity out to your feeding station for an electric bowl warmer, this DIY project might be just the ticket.
Another way to keep water from freezing overnight in winter is to copy an old trick used by horse owners to keep buckets of water out in the pasture from freezing. Take an old black tire (that's off its rim) and fill it with rocks. Then tightly wedge a large bucket in the tire's hole and fill with water. During the day, the tire absorbs sunlight and heats the rocks stuffed inside. The rocks in turn radiate heat and keep the water from freezing overnight. You can learn more about this and other ways to keep water from freezing at night from the Neighborhood cats website.
More information can be found on our website ( by clicking on any of the topics from the Cold Weather Care menu on the left-hand side of any webpage. 
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What is Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR)?

TNR is a full management plan in which stray and feral cats already living outdoors in cities, towns, and rural areas are humanely trapped, evaluated, vaccinated, and sterilized by veterinarians.

When space is available, adoptable cats and kittens are transferred to sheltering organizations to be adopted into good homes. Healthy adult cats unsocialized to humans are returned to their familiar habitat under the lifelong care of their original caretakers.
Feral Fixers, NFP, is a certified 501c3 corporation - EIN Number 13-4364615