Here Kitty Kitty
January 30, 2009 1:58 PM   Subscribe

So...after hearing some thumping I assumed was just ice falling off my gutters, I realize I have two cats living in the crawlspace under my back addition.

It is fully enclosed other than a small hatchway, which as far as I knew was closed tight, apparently not so much. Given it is winter in Chicago, they seem to have holed up right next to the heating duct.

I can't get close enough to either to see if they have collars/tags/etc. It's a very tight space packed full of old lumber, and they scoot away everytime I shine a flashlight. I can't get a decent digital pic or decent ID to even give a reasonable description for craigslist or anything.

I have asked all over the neighborhood if anyone is missing said cats, I emailed our vet and local pet groomer (both neighbors fwiw) and told them the deal and to pass the word. At this point, I do not know if they are someone's beloved pets that someone wants back, or feral.

Here comes the wishy-washy...

Frankly I dont care if they are taking a little shelter under there. They arent' bothering me. I have put out some food for them just so they dont starve (yeah I know I'll never get rid of them if I do that), but I value any life more than my damned crawlspace.

Potential problems. a 105 lb German Shepherd that lives here that does not like cats. Not one bit.

Also, I really dont want to find out in a month or two that I now have like 10 kittens also living under there, both for the humanitarian aspect, and the fact I don't want to be responsible for unleashing a pack of wild cats into an otherwise catless neighborhood.

If they are feral, it could be a public health issue. I had a friend who got bit by a wild cat, developed some sort of infection, and ended up having his thumb amputated.

Possible solutions:

1. I take a can of tuna or salmon, set it out in the driveway, they beeline for it, and I slam the crawlspace door shut, so they can't get back in. (But what if there are babies in there, and what do they do with nowhere to live when it's 11 below?)

2. I call animal control. They get hauled off roughly and gassed. (Rather set them loose to fend for themselves.)

Mostly, I just don't want to have a whole bunch of new cats, or a few dead ones down there.

Any Chicago area cat rescue, humane/no kill sort of resources would be appreciated. Thank you in advance hive mind. know...if you're on the NW side and want a coupla cats.....:)
posted by timsteil to Pets & Animals (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The SPCA, or local animal control, or maybe even the vet can provide you with humane traps. Put the food in the traps and haul them to whatever shelter you find once they're caught.
posted by chiababe at 2:01 PM on January 30, 2009

Trap them. If you can see that they are spayed/neutered and you don't want them to be euthanized, you can release them.
posted by Crotalus at 2:07 PM on January 30, 2009

If you're reluctant to release them back into your neighborhood, the Red Door Animal Shelter is an excellent no-kill shelter on the North Side.
posted by carrienation at 2:10 PM on January 30, 2009

Paws Chicago ( will be able to help you. They will come to your house, trap the cats, and remove them. A friend of mine often works with this group and they are very humane/'no kill'.
posted by mockjovial at 2:14 PM on January 30, 2009

I had a friend who got bit by a wild cat, developed some sort of infection, and ended up having his thumb amputated.

Just a note that this can happen with any cat, feral or not. Cat mouths are dirty places, and if you ever get bitten or scratched, you should wash thoroughly with antibacterial soap.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:16 PM on January 30, 2009

We have ferals in the attic (old house made into apartments).
I and a friend, as we have the ability and financial resources, have taken them to have shots and be checked to see if they need to be spayed/neutered because I am also worried about kitten and health issues (especially if pointycat ever escapes outside again!).
I think the trap and no-kill shelter ideas are great, but if you decide to keep them around, they can really help with rodent and roach issues. One of the ferals loves to eat palmetto bugs - yay!
posted by pointystick at 2:26 PM on January 30, 2009

One thing about traps --- depending on where you live, there's no telling which species you might end up with: racoon, skunk,...
posted by goethean at 3:04 PM on January 30, 2009

There might be a feral cat organization that can help. Here we have a chapter of "Friends of Feral Felines"-- they TNR cats and trap and place kittens. They have tons of expertise in this area. There is most likely a chapter near you.
posted by miss tea at 3:51 PM on January 30, 2009

Seconding Paws Chicago as your go-to resource here. They rent traps if you want to do it yourself.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:53 PM on January 30, 2009

Chicagoland Stray Cat Coalition is a coalition of several cat rescue groups. They may be able to help - of course PAWS as already mentioned is a part of the coalition.

If you do end up doing the spay/neuter and release thing, just be sure the vet uses dissolving sutures. My husband and I ended up with a feral kitten in our home - we found her freezing to death on the sidewalk with regular sutures in her belly from a recent spay, and thought she must belong to someone. We rushed her to the emergency vet, put up signs in the neighborhood, but found out once she recovered that she was actually totally feral. It was a mystery to us and the vets, because who would use regular sutures that need to be removed on a feral cat? We may never know what actually happened, but now that we know that PAWS rents out traps, it makes more sense that this could have been a misguided attempt at Good Samaritan-ism.

We ended up keeping her and have spent the last two months socializing her while keeping her isolated from our other pets. Next week she goes to the vet to get her final tests for kitty diseases and her remaining vaccines, and we will start introducing her to our adult cat and greyhound soon after. She's still crazy skittish, but will also crawl on our laps for long, purr-filled petting sessions. Just a warning in case you're as much of a sucker as me and my husband.
posted by misskaz at 8:51 AM on January 31, 2009

Are you certain that your inhabitants are cats? I had similar symptoms at around this time of year a few years ago, eventually including the kind of screaming and wailing that I would associate with cats fighting. I found a pest control place that would do a free estimate, and they told me that it was in fact squirrels fucking, not cats fighting, and that this was incredibly common at this time of year (I'm in Brooklyn, by the way). Anyway, they were able to diagnose the problem in about 15 seconds, block the entrance, and that was the end of that.

If only I could find a similarly effective solution to the noise coming from the neigbors ;-).
posted by fingers_of_fire at 3:10 PM on January 31, 2009

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