Sunday, April 14, 2024
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The TNR Project: Off to the Farm

Fenrir greets me.
Fenrir greets me.

I was greeted in style when I arrived at the farm on Sunday by dilute tortie Fenrir, one of Birgitta’s rescues. She patrols the yard and manages the dogs, who greeted me when Birgitta came out of the house. I had met Bella last year, and the two black dogs belong to Birgitta’s son and were raised with farm cats. There is a fourth dog too, but I just couldn’t get them all in one photo.

The cat-friendliest dogs and Fenrir.
The cat-friendliest dogs and Fenrir.

My car was parked in the shade with the windows and doors open so we let the cats decompress and get accustomed to the sounds and smells in their carriers in the car while we went indoors for a break and a little lunch, an update on last year’s cats and talk about this year’s cats. Of course…

We're not waiting for your food.
We’re not waiting for your food.

I stood up and these two were sure I’d gotten up to get them some treats. A house where the dog is allowed at the table and the cat is allowed on the table is a house I enjoy visiting.

Setting up the girls

It happened that all four cats I took this time were girls: Koshka, Braveheart, Penelope and the original tux mom. None showed any interest in socialization and had to have their cages covered with a carrier available to hide in while with their fosters. Koshka turned into a wild woman after being spayed and seemed as if she was possessed. Braveheart was consistently quiet and polite, but could not be touched and was not entirely comfortable inside. Penelope, mother of the four 12-week kittens, was a nice girl though no petting or even excessive talking was welcome, until it came time to get into her carrier to leave, and then she went a little berserk. The original tux mom seemed to adapt well to a cage, but would not go back into her carrier for travel without a lot of poking to get her in the right direction.


All the fosters and I realized they had had a pretty traumatic few weeks, the feeding changes, the homeowner clearing all the brush they hid within in the backyard, two ladies trapping at night and no food except in the traps, being trapped inside another house, hanging out in the back of my car, losing kittens, going to fosters, going for spays, in and out of carriers and cars, nothing like the life they were accustomed to. The best we could do was understand and keep telling them this was the last leg of their journey, and they would be very happy where they were going.


After their rest in the car each of them was compliant with going into their cage and into the carrier there for them to hide in. All cages are covered right now, with a litterbox, and dry and canned food and water.


I hadn’t settled on a name for the Original Tux Mom, though in my thoughts I was calling her Sweetie, even though I know she is no sweetie. She was the first cat I saw, the first time I visited. I know she has had multiple litters of kittens and probably seen a lot of loss. Life has not been easy for her. She has such a sad demeanor, passive, quiet—until you try to get her into her carrier to travel. I was actually concerned she was not well because she had been trapped in the other abandoned house for a week, but when she landed with Margo rather than being in the back of my car she began to eat, and they checked her over at her spay and found she was in good health. I hope, of all of them, that she finds a good life here.

The original tux mom.
The original tux mom.

When they were all settled and I took their photos, I felt a wave of sadness for these cats. They are in a good place, but they had a very hard time getting here. Living as an unwanted feral cat even with a feeder is not easy. They were in peril all along, and then the house was in peril as well, and they all had to move, the place many had been born, the only place most had known, all their cat friends, their familiar neighborhood, all gone. Birgitta messaged me the next morning that they were all eating and drinking the next morning, and that’s a very good sign that they feel safe enough.

They will foster in the basement of the house, as Birgitta has done before. She will interact with them every day as she feeds them, and when she is away for a show her Amish neighbor Ellie who loves cats will come over. She will eventually let them go inside the house so they can explore and find safe places, and know they are always welcome there. They are welcome to stay indoors, but if they want to venture outside during the day, they can do so in their own time and their own way. Food is given right around the house as well. So far, each of the cats spent some time inside, then when spring and summer came most ran off to hunt and explore and found other places to hang out. All the small farms cover about 20 acres in a very rural area. Birgitta rescues cats too, when she finds them given away for free at the auction, or being abused by neighbors, and she has never lost one to a predator or a car or any sort of abuse.

Of last year’s ferals, two stayed indoors. An elder orange girl who had been fed outdoors for a decade had to be moved because a neighbor complained and threatened. Red was deaf and didn’t go too far, but still she had to leave her home and the person who loved her. She was losing chunks of fur and wasn’t eating much, but really came around in her new home. She has never gone outdoors, but sleeps under a sideboard in the kitchen with her own food and water bowls, and is called Grandma. She watches everything, and the dogs bring her toys. Here she looks startled because by the time I got my camera focused she was a little frightened by it, but she was happily sleeping up to that point.

Grandma, formerly Red.
Grandma, formerly Red.

Last year this tabby was Rylan, but this year she is Missy, and she has no interest at all in going outdoors. She was on the verge of socialization last year, but her fur brother Cherokee was the boss and wasn’t really interested. They both hung around in the basement for a while, then Cherokee began exploring the outdoors and discovered how much fun it is to hunt. He handles the neighbor’s barn at the top of the hill, but still appears for food. Missy is still chunky and has a pink chair she sleeps on all day. She can’t really be petted yet, but it’s only a matter of time. Here she is in one of the rug-making rooms.

Missy, formerly Rylan.
Missy, formerly Rylan.

Of the others (reference the article from last year for their photos), the Bottleshop mom Tabetha and her kitten Sierra moved to the barn next door where they are the only cats. Zen and Sebastian prowl the yard, stay outside but occasionally come indoors, and it’s likely they will come in this winter. Jasmine is elusive but still in the yard and the barns on Birgitta’s farm. she may decide to come back inside. Oscar had stayed in Birgitta’s goat barn for a while, then went to the barns at the top of the hill and hunted for a while, but he must have decided he liked people more because he made his way down to Ellie’s house two doors down and he’s got her pretty charmed and is more than welcome indoors with her other two cats.

So the first group has arrived. This week I hope to trap the two males Big Daddy and the black kitty who will be neutered and take them there next weekend or as soon as possible. Males are not as easy as females to foster, so they can’t easily be kept in cages as these girls were. Then after them, when Sammy and Tabby are done nurturing their kittens, they will be spayed and I’ll take them as well. Only Betsy is in transition. She has become quite friendly in the meantime, and we may decide to continue fostering her to adopt.

Skeeter has her spot on the work table.
Skeeter has her spot on the work table.

In the meantime they can all learn to live in a creative environment as well as on a farm. Lots of yarn items and fabrics to sleep on!


I developed laryngitis from the air conditioning in my car transporting a few cats from the clinic over a week ago. It usually runs a five-day course but this time I developed some sinus issues along with it, and that, the exhaustion from fighting the symptoms, and the medications I took for symptoms, all worked together to put me way under the weather. Today is the first day in a week I’ve felt back to my normal self, so I hope to update and post other things way more frequently than I have been! When I don’t post, I don’t know what day of the week it is! And tomorrow is the summer soltice!

Updated list

The list changed from the original list of cats to be trapped again. We have two more adults to trap, and because they’ve eluded the traps over the past few days I will now borrow a drop trap.

Here is where we stand with all the cats involved in this project:

BW mom (Penelope) (farm)
Tabby mom (kittens)(foster)
Braveheart (farm)
Braveheart look alike (Betsy) (foster)
longhaired black mom (Koshka) (farm)
Sammy (kitten)(foster)
original black and white mom (farm)

10-week white with black spots (Domino, caught by feeder before we started) (Penelope)(foster)
10-week black (Penelope)(foster)
10-week tux (Penelope)(foster)
10-week gray/white (Penelope)(foster)
2-week tabby (Tabby)(foster)
2-week tabby (Tabby)(foster)
2-week tabby (Tabby)(foster)
2-week tabby (Tabby)(foster)
newborn black (deceased) (Koshka)
newborn black (deceased) (Koshka)
newborn tabby (deceased) (Koshka)
newborn tabby (deceased) (Koshka)
newborn gray/white (deceased) (Koshka)
newborn tux (deceased) (Koshka)
newborn black (Sammy)(foster)
newborn gray and white (deceased) (Sammy)

Big Daddy
young adult black male

Help with costs for these cats and others

If you have donated, please let me know! And thanks so much to those of you who have donated—gas money, tolls, food for kittens, and just time away from work are costly for me. I couldn’t do this without your help, and without HCMT and Pittsburgh CAT.

Homeless Cat Management Team

You can make a donation to the Homeless Cat Management Team (HCMT) and let them know it’s for these cats and send me the receipt—I will send you a gift certificate.

HCMT is a 501c3 and all donations are tax-deductible. Visit the website at


Send directly to Paypal: [email protected]

Mail your donation

Send a check to:
Homeless Cat Management Team
P. O. Box 100203
Pittsburgh, PA 15233

Pittsburgh C.A.T.

Pittsburgh C.A.T. is not a 501c3 but all donations go directly into cat care. Raising the litter of five kittens including surgeries for all and mother, vaccinations, any illnesses that come up, all adds up to hundreds of dollars. You can use Paypal: [email protected]. If you’d like to send a check, please ask and I’ll give you the address. Send me a receipt.

Donate for a Discount

To donate to me, visit this article on Portraits of Animals which explains how to donate to me for a purpose. I will send you a gift certificate in an amount as described in the article: from $5.00 for donating $25.00 to $20.00 for donating $100.00.


Read other articles about this project

Help With a TNR Project

Update on the TNR Project: Kittens! and Almost Done

TNR Update: Kitten Family Reunited, and Clinic Day

Update on the TNR Project: Trapped in Another House, and Two Boys Left

The TNR Project: The Next Exciting Installment

I may continue to be a little scattered with posting as long as I’m working on this, and other rescues. Thanks for your understanding!

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