It’s been an incredibly busy summer at the Tree House Humane Society, the no-kill shelter that for 40 years has been a strong protector of Chicago’s cat community. The shelter has had an influx of kittens and adult cats along with the many injured and sick felines that they take in and nurture when no one else wants them.
Many factors have played a roll in the up tick of intakes – fewer adoptions, more need to take in cats in the bad economy and a very large increase in stray cats. They’ve also seen a dramatic increase in the number of very sick cats that have been dumped on the doorsteps at both shelter locations. That’s just a tip of the iceberg when you also take into account the work the organization does in the city’s growing feral cat community.
“Our niche has been to take in the sickest cats or hardest cases (shy, FIV+, senior kitties),” says Jenny Schuelter director of development for Tree House. “We nurse them back to health and give them a chance at finding a home. Because it takes so long to heal them and in many cases build up their spirit, we often care for them for a long time until the right adopter comes along.”
In the last year according to Schuelter, there were 77 cats dumped at Tree House but in two months this summer alone, over 40 cats, many of them very sick or severely injured, were dumped at both the Uptown and Bucktown locations. While some of the cats and kittens were so ill they could not be saved, others have needed extensive medical help for a variety of issues from dehydration and starvation to ringworm, upper respiratory infections, diaphragmatic hernias and more.
“One sweet cat that was dumped was Moon Unit,” adds Schuelter. “He was emaciated and had an upper respiratory infection and his blood work showed that he had fatty liver disease, which meant his body was breaking down his fat reserves to stay alive. Although his chance of survival was slim, he’s quite the fighter and a mix of food, medication and fluids put him on the track to recovery. He’s now been diagnosed with ringworm and needs treatment and isolation before he’ll be recovered enough for adoption.”
The large number of very sick and injured abandoned cats has put a strain on the organization’s emergency fund and they are now appealing to donors to help out so they are able to save more cats. Because Tree House is a no-kill shelter, people who can no longer afford to care for a sick or injured cats or kittens have been dumping the animals there when the shelter is full so that their pets won’t be euthanized at another facility.
The increase has a very negative impact on the organizations two shelters because it fills up isolation wards and leaves little room to care for current residents that may need extra veterinary care. The sick and potentially contagious cats may also threaten the health of current shelter residents. Admission is often halted after a large abandonment because of lack of space and possible contagious diseases, which prevents other, healthier cats from being admitted. If you’d to pitch-in to help the cats at Tree House, you may donate online or send in donations to the Tree House Humane Society, 1212 West Carmen, Chicago, Illinois 60640-2999 and specify emergency medical fund.
Petfinder has designated September 17 – 25 as “Adopt-A-Less-Adoptable-Pet Week” to help promote the many animals that have a hard time finding a home due to their color, age, illness or other factors. I’ll also use this week to highlight some programs developed by shelters to help these animals find a home and to shed some light on this overlooked group – like those needing extensive medical treatment at Tree House and other shelters.
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