Feral Cat Colony with Donna

Donna K. has been working with a colony of feral cats in Northeast Ohio for the last three months. And in those few short months, the 12 cats that she has been able to TNR are now happier and healthier. She still has a few more to go, but Donna is determined and committed to TNRing the rest of the group, along with providing continual care and food.

A conversation with Donna

How did you come into caring for the colony?
Driving by this area twice a day, I kept noticing what I thought was one white cat. I stopped to feed it and put out a shelter and that is when three came out of hiding. A few days later, I stopped and found the owner of the property/building and I inquired about the cats. He then told me there are about 12-14 cats. I have documented at least 21 cats living there.

What is the environment like where the colony lives?
Not a good area and it is basically a mess… pallets and old computers/ink cartridges everywhere. Just a real junky spot.

Feral Cat Colony

Can you describe what you do for the 20+ colony of cats?
I feed them twice a day – food/water – and have put about a dozen shelters on the property for them.

Have you ever taken in one that seemed adoptable?
I thought a few might be adoptable, but that truly isn’t the case. They are happy living where they are.

What is the hardest part about caring for them?
Hoping to adopt some out, but finding out that it is not possible.

What is the best part about caring for them?
Knowing I am giving them a better, healthier life, with no reproduction for any of them.

What would you say is the most common misconception about TNR?
Most people would turn their back and say… oh they are just cats… they live outside… it’s not my problem. In reality, it is the fault of humans for not spaying/neutering their pets.

Does anyone else in the community help you?
I have a rescue group that is helping me with the surgeries, and I’m pleading to the community for donations of food.

Have you encountered any criticism from anyone?
No, not at all… although most of my friends and family think I am a crazy cat lady. I AM! The owner of the property has been helpful with allowing me to do this – he is appreciative. What started out with just one or two cats has clearly become a bigger problem for him. People just drop off their cats at this location and abandon them.

What advice would you give to someone who is interested in starting a TNR program?
DO it… you will be happy that you did. Helping the voiceless and homeless cats is so rewarding.

About how much food does it take to care for the colony?
I go through about 40 lbs of dry food and about 100 cans of wet food a week.

Feral Cat Colony

How do you cover the expenses?
I have spent about $400 of my own money on food before I received some help from the rescue.

Is there a TNR kitty that stands out in your mind?
My sweet Lucky boy – my first one TNR’d. He is always there to greet me when I come to feed. He comes relatively close to me, and I believe he has since learned to forgive me (for the TNR). He has learned his name (I name all of the cats), and he responds to it. He now knows I am only there to help.

Are there any resources you can recommend regarding TNR?
Join some support groups on Facebook, local rescue groups are always willing to help, and the internet is very helpful in finding information.

Feral Cat Colony
Getting the cats used to the traps before setting them.

Do you have any pets at home?
I have two rescue cats of my own and a 12-year-old Lab/Springer Spaniel dog that we rescued from the pound as a pup.

Anything else we should know about you? 
I have always been one to help, and it feels so good to be able to help these babies!

A big thank you to Donna for caring for this colony of feral cats. Their lives are entirely better because of you! You can connect with Donna on Instagram and keep up with her progress. If you’d like to help Donna feed these sweet kitties, you can support Donna through her Amazon Wish List.

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  1. Bless you, Donna, for what you are doing! Thank you for caring about those cats and helping them. That is awesome that you have the property owner’s approval too.

  2. Really good read! I am rescuing a puppy soon that came from a hoarding situation. There was a pack of feral dogs there. We used to have a feral cat problem in our neighborhood due to neighbors not getting their cats fixed and not taking responsibility for the kittens. Luckily we were able to step in and help. We found the kittens all new homes and got the feral adults fixed with the help of our local humane society.

  3. Big thanks to Donna! TW works with a TNR where we live although she stopped feeding one colony after the neighbors screamed and threatened to call the po po. She’s just learned about a program they started in SF, CA called RTF (Return to Field) where they work with a shelter. When people trap the cats and bring them to the shelter, the RTF gets the cats fixed, etc and then returns them to the place they were taken from with the person who brought them in’s permission. Let me know if you want to know more about the program.

  4. TNR is one of the best things you can do for a kitty community. BIG kudos to Donna for taking a proactive stance on the stray kitty population!

  5. G-d Bless you. I remember when living in Israel there was an ordinance in our city that we had to leave water out at all times especially during the summer for the stray cats because of the heat

  6. Tuxie reminds me of someone, or some cat, but I can’t figure out who. I’m in love with Harley, who looks like one of my cats that I lost this year.
    Please let Donna know that there are substantially cheaper options for the dry cat food that’s on her wish list – still Amazon, sold by Amazon… the 3.15lb bag is $4 instead of the $12 she selected. And there are options for much larger bags, which I would happily gift to her if added to her wish list.

    1. Sorry to hear about Harley. It’s hard losing a pet, but comforting a bit when we see them in another animal. And thank you for the tips! I will certainly let her know. I think the WL is still new to her and I’m sure she would greatly appreciate any advice (and support)! You’re so kind!

      1. the wish lists are confusing me. i clicked the one for your previous post and even though i didn’t select any items from their list, amazon wanted to ship my order to them instead of me. tried Donna’s list again, hoping for the same results – but no such luck

        1. Hmmm, that’s odd. Maybe try closing your browser and opening it again fresh? I’ve ordered from Wish Lists before and haven’t had any issues with Amazon and addresses. But who knows?!? Technology, right?

  7. Thank you for all you do. We partner with and help rescues, shelters and animal welfare organizations (including transports, fosters, etc.) We donate 25% of our profit from custom pet portraits to help animal welfare organizations continue their mission of caring for animals. If you would like partner information please visit http://www.AndysPawPrints.com/partner-information.html and feel free to visit us on Facebook at Andy’s Paw Prints. We would love to help you continue your mission through our donations from custom pet portraits. Thank you for all you do for animals!

  8. Love this! The city I live in had a huge problem with feral cats. Luckily a rescue stepped in and started a TNR program here. It hasn’t been going on long but I’m sure it will really help control the feral population, as well as give the cats better lives.

  9. Thanks for this frank account of a challenging and complex situation. I’m glad the cats are healthier and much improved, overall, in their feral state. I admire all the great effort it takes to make this particular community happen.

  10. I’ve always admired people who do this and if fixing the cats is possible, it is possible to keep a colony under control. For decades, there was a colony behind the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, Canada but it was shut down a year or two ago when the last cat living there was rehomed to the one volunteer he’d come near. It was ‘victim’ of its own success.

  11. Excellent post, I love it! Kudos to Donna for TNR-ing the cats and to you for spreading the word about TNR. My sister TNR’d a group of cats that took up house under her porch’ the parents and kittens. it took a bit of work but she humanely trapped them all and spayed/neutered them. Now they live peacefully on the porch and some will come inside if it gets bitter cold. You are best to spay/neuter and leave the colony in place, if you remove (adopt out) any of them it’s a proven fact that more feral cats will simply move in to take the place of the ones that leave. You did the best thing possible for them by spay/neutering and continuing to feed them and provide shelters.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  12. How wonderful! She is an angel. This just warmed my heart. We had a feral kitty our other adopted cat brought home one day and he was wiiiild! My daughter eventually rehabilitated him and he has since been vetted, adopted by us, and now is an amazing friendly kissy kitty! Bravo to Donna! And thank you so much for a great blog post!

  13. She is truly awesome! I admit, I’m not well educated about cat welfare, but I think TNR is a great option for cats who really aren’t adoptable. I know that it is a tough life to be a feral cat in our area (cold winters and foxes are just two of the problems), but I think it wouldn’t be so bad in other areas, especially if you have a person like Donna helping out.

  14. Thank you to Donna- now following on Insta. They look beautiful and so important to spay/neuter. They are lucky you saw them driving by and took the time to care.

  15. Amazing story! Donna is a terrific woman. I really hope that she can find some more people and monetary help to care for that feral colony. It takes a lot of work to care for all of those kitties! Not everyone has enough heart to be able to do it.

  16. The day I discovered that I had a feral colony on my property, I had thrown some left over bread and dinner rolls out in the back yard for the birds. I looked out the window a few minutes later and saw a black cat grabbing one of the rolls and suddenly she was surrounded by kittens. She dropped the roll and went back for another while the kittens were fighting over the roll. One little black kitten kept being pushed back, and from the looks of the poor skinny baby, I didn’t think it was long for this world. That is when I started feeding these babies. Soon, they were coming up on the deck and eating, slowly filling out in weight and size. But my sweet little black kitten, where he put on weight still stayed smaller than the rest. Named him Skittles, because he was always darting here and there trying to get his fair share.
    When the snows began, and I worried about my new cat family and built shelters to keep them warm, but my biggest worry was my smallest member.
    Strangely my inside Senior cat kept talking under the door to the deck, and one morning as I opened the door to take food outside, in walks this little cat. He ran over to the food dish inside and my inside cats just moved back and let him eat his fill.
    I got busy doing one thing and another and forgot he was inside.
    When I finally remembered he was inside, I went to check on where he could be hiding, fully expecting for him to do that if trapped inside. But no, went into the living room and there he was sleeping with a couple of the other cats.
    Now, where he didn’t become friendly with us for a while, he was quite happy playing with his new friends and having a warm place to sleep and a full tummy. Slowly he can around started asking for petting like the other cats and settled into a new life.

    1. What a sweet story. Thank you for sharing it! And what a lucky little guy to be welcomed into your home.

  17. Donna continues to do ameowzing work! She just stumbled upon a large TNT group to care for! May be time for an update interview! Between her THE work and fosters!!! She is an angel! ❤