Animal rescue group to build feral cats ‘a warm place to live’
By Judy Masterson email@example.com October 21, 2013 5:10PM
The animal rescue group WAGS, Waukegan Animals Getting Saved, aided by community volunteers, will build four houses for feral cats on Saturday, Oct. 26, Make a Difference Day. The houses feature front and back entrances and a liftable roof.| SUBMITTED PHOTO
Visit WAGS on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/WaukeganAnimalsGettingSaved. Donors may click on the yellow “GIVE” button on the page to make a contribution to the Holiday Cat Shelter Drive.
Updated: November 23, 2013 6:12AM
The animal rescue group WAGS this week is launching an effort to build little houses for feral cats.
Alison Graham, founder of WAGS, Waukegan Animals Getting Saved, is organizing what she hopes will be the beginning of a new kind of housing boom, an ongoing effort to construct shelters for the city’s feral cat population.
“If someone sees a dog running outside, 10 people will drop what they’re doing and try to catch the dog,” Graham said. “But there are plenty of cats outside and nobody does anything about it. Cats are considered disposable. We’re used to seeing them outside.”
WAGS has worked with Spay and Stay, the nonprofit that traps cats, neuters or spays them — clipping an ear to flag them. An unfixed female can birth three or four litters per year and WAGS estimates that hundreds, maybe thousands of abandoned cats roam the city.
“If we simply ‘round up’ the cats to get them off the streets, the shelter would not be able to house them and most of them would end up being euthanized,” said WAGS volunteer Terry Backis.
WAGS also supports the care and feeding of feral cat colonies, an approach already undertaken by volunteers throughout the city, who trap feral cats, transport them to vets for spay/neuter and socialize and adopt the ones they can. Those cats that are truly feral are fed and watered “while they live out the rest of their short lives outdoors.”
The small shelters, which can be made of wood or other materials and insulated with straw, provide a home base for basic needs, warmth, especially in the colder months, and a haven from predators.
WAGS members and AmeriCorps volunteers will gather at a home in Gurnee on Saturday, Oct. 26, Make A Difference Day, to build several shelters using plans publicized by the feline education and rescue group FIVer Cats, which refers to feral felines as “community cats.”
The small wood houses with liftable roofs are elevated above snow level and include both front and back entrances/exits, giving cats an escape route.
Graham noted that AmeriCorps volunteers usually work for Habitat for Humanity.
“They build houses for people,” she said. “It’s wonderful they’re using their skills to build houses for cats.”
WAGS hopes to attract more volunteers and donors for its feral cat shelter project, the focus of its 2013 holiday drive. In previous years, the group purchased 44 raised beds for dogs at the Waukegan animal shelter and solicited donations for vet packages, including shots and neutering, for abandoned animals.
“We’re trying to get many, many more of these houses built and identify more caretakers who can use them,” Graham said. “Our goal this holiday season is to make sure every stray/feral cat has a warm place to live.”