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Orange Cat Needs a Great Home

We would like to find a home for Orange Cat. He is the last of our brood of random orange alley cats.

He needs a private farm, estate-like house with a pet loving couple or person where he can have his insulated custom house and his own area away from obnoxious dogs. He’s domesticated and needs to be fed daily. Outdoor cats are not meant to be unfed–they are not lions with an abundance of gazelle running around.

He gets lots of attention–a few minutes a day in the winter, but more time in the summer when we do yard work and gardening. He loves attention and is very friendly but loves treats!

He is very social, has his claws and needs them to be an outdoor cat to protect himself.

He is HIV Cat Positive, which hasn’t really meant anything to us; he seems completely no different than our other cats except for the fact that he has gastro problems. We built this house for him because he was outside and all alone, always getting into garbage. He wasn’t healthy, so we started feeding him and taking care of him.  I think he goes to the bathroom in the two empty lots next to us…he is smart enough not to go around his house which I find amusing. Cats are smart that way–the way they bury things.

He was the major stud of the neighborhood, and a big alpha cat who likes to fight. Now he is fixed, wanders a lot less, and fights a lot less as well. Occassionally I see a scratch on his nose or ears but its usually from a female. The vet says he is in good shape and his teeth are doing well. He has his microchip, has his claws, and all his shots; they were given to him at Treehouse Foundation.

I would take him inside if I didn’t have cats already, but he is a fighter and very alpha, so that won’t work since our cats are all male.

I’d like to find the ideal situation for him, which would be a private house, fenced-in private yard where he could live, and yes, he totally lives in his house at night when it’s cold. I have straw in there and a little micro fleece bed. Straw works best because it stays dry.

He gets fed every morning around 8 or 9. He is domesticated and needs love and comfort, and we bring him inside when the weather is under… or when a blizzard is coming.

Let me know if you have any interest!

Photos: CMR Interiors


Buy Made in America

Last week they had a story on ABC on a couple who wanted only Made in the USA for their home. Not an easy task and certainly a more expensive endeavor. But a worthwhile assignment.

Typically cheaper goods are made over seas………and that is because U.S. labor does cost much more than in countries where they don’t have the same rights, freedoms and basic same labor laws. There are many furniture manufacturers who tried manufacturing overseas but the quality just wasn’t there. Those companies who tried to make a go of it in China, India, have returned and are back on the East Coast.  And its true. You can see the difference if you are an experience buyer of quality goods as I am. The handcrafted furniture such as lines like David Iatesta are second to none when compared to lines from Europe and especially China or India.

The Merchandise Mart in Chicago is full of stylish boutique lines where the artisans make the goods right here in the USA.

Appliances &  Plumbing Fixtures

1. Blue Star Ranges: My personal favorite!  Made in PN. Like way more than my Wolf Range.

2. Wolf

3. Subzero: WI

4. Thermodor

5. Jenn Aire

6. Delta: Not all parts are made in America but they are still manufactured in Indiana.

7. Newport Brass: Made in California

6. Kallista (a higher end division of Kohler for plumbing fixtures):  Gorgeous!

7. Kohler

8. Just Sinks: Great stainless steel sinks made here in IL    (

9. Maytag & Whirlpool : Still manufactured here (yet many parts are now made overseas and a certain percentage of goods)

High End Lighting:

1. David Iatesta   (most stunning chandeliers)

2. Urban Electric Co :

3. Remains Lighting:   Made in Brooklyn

4. Niermann Weeks:  Made in Millerville Maryland

5. Urban Archeology: NY

6. Nancy Corzine lighting:  Made in Carson California

Custom Cabinetry & Custom Crown:

1. Janik Custom Millwork: Hodkins IL (off I55) Refurbish old bars, fix &  repair larger projects, and can make custom Crown Molding. They don’t take on kitchens

2. Woodmode:  Cabinets Made in Pennsylvania

3. Romar Cabinetry :  IL      Many a Hinsdale house does have Romar cabinetry and buying here in IL creates revenue-which makes your taxes cheaper!

4. Star Moulding & Trim Co: Chicago, IL   Company makes any size custom mouldings and can duplicate if you need to copy something for an older home

Ruthie & Charlie -Adopted at last.

I am so relieved to have Charlie and Ruthie adopted by such nice people. This is not good weather for cats since they often get dehydrated and ill in subzero temperature. This lovely woman found Charlie from the Hyde Park Cats blog. She and her husband came to get Charlie and one week later I had coaxed them into taking his sister as well. I got the update the other night and both are sleeping together happily–in a very large Victorian style home in Hyde Park.

Penny checks out her new digs

Now their mother, Penny, needs a home so she can get out of this nasty weather. We started building a cat condo for our condo cats three weeks before Charlie and Ruthie were adopted. It has a few finishing touches (corners of the house need cladding) and I have to put straw inside, but other than these small details, it’s ready to go outdoors.

Orange Cat loves the lady cats-- but these girls fight him...his nose is often like this.

This house is framed out, then tyvec was put over it, then rigid insulation and foam for any cracks, then caulked seams, concrete board on the sides of the house, marine finish on all the wood, sisal on the leg and tar paper and roofing shingles. We are waiting for the plastic flap door and I’m going to be straw in the bottom of the house or a cat bed. Straw works better than anything because it dries super quick and stays fresh. Anything else stays wet and damp and is not good for the cat.

Penny on the left, Ruthie right

The roof comes off so we can clean out periodically. I think Orange Cat (who is HIV+ but very healthy) & Penny would not be able to share since she can’t stand him but I could  cut another door and make two units in there instead of one larger one.

I just got bought a heated dog bowl from amazon for our  front porch because cats get dehydrated easily and must have water or they can get sick. So this will stay on my front porch and I will feed them on the shelf under the house. The Cat Condo entrance is high enough to keep out the raccoons.

If anyone is interested in a sweet female cat–who is about 2 years old, has her shots and is fixed, let me know! I think Penny is perfect for someone who only wants only one pet . She is an attention hog and doesn’t like other cats and is scared of dogs.  Thanks!

Photo Credit: CMR Interiors

A Day in the Life of Ruthie and Charlie

This is my first group of ferals that I trapped to fix and am raising. What I find interesting is how instinctively stealth these feral cats are at killing birds, mice, snakes, and squirrels. These cats are fed plenty…so they don’t do it for hunger. I think the cats were outside from foreclosures and general animal irresponsibility which I don’t relate to at all. Some of the folks down here say I should not fix the cats….because then they will not hunt down the rats. This is so not true. Cats hunt just about anything smaller than them that moves.


One day Ruthie and Charlie’s mother Penny brought me a squirrel after I fed her a can of tuna. A Squirrel…that’s right. And when I got upset she ran off with him. After that I saw Charlie one day pounce on a robin while doing yard work. That freaked me out as well. Now it’s all old hat. I find their “gifts” all over in the back: dead birds, snakes, squirrel tails, you name it. It’s just the outdoor life of being a feral cat. I try to protect the gardener snakes from Ruthie. The other day I pulled up in the parking lot and found her “playing” with a teeny tiny baby gardener snake (who was adorable). Her version of playing with him is pawing him with her razor sharp claws and trying to eat him. Ugh!  His little tail had been removed. So I picked him up to put him back in the lawn so he had a chance to escape her and have a full life.


I don’t know what Ruthie and Charlie do all day. I just hope they stay out of the road.  During the summer I would be out watering the lawn and would see them napping together up in this old train tracks embankment, together in the grass. Ruthie is very dependent on her brother Charlie. Because she is so shy. So I hope to get them adopted by someone who will appreciate them both.  I often see them coming down the trees from this embankment to eat around 5pm. They like the privacy this area gives them and probably the protection.


The food bowls are always dirty and greasy from raccoons.  So I am having my carpenter build a feeding station that is elevated that I can put out for these cats. Raccoons can’t jump so it will work out great. I’m doing something similar with the cat condos which I am also building for some of the neighborhood strays which will have shelter. When it’s really cold out I heard that solar pool blankets work to warm these houses well.

Cat Vs. Dog for the Home?

I have been on both sides of pet ownership and care for quality  homes.  Sometimes my clients are considering a first pet and want my advice after they just spent a huge investment on their home design, and are leary of bringing a pet into the mix. My recommendation is always “Start with a cat if you don’t have the allergies”.

Martha Stewart says “if you hate cats, it’s because you never owned one”. I  agree. As a child we only had dogs. My parents were anti cat. Now my parents have two cats and a dog and every time the cats walk into the room, their faces light up. It’s ridiculous how happy they are with cats….all I have to say to them is “I told you so”.

The coming in and going outside all the time routine obviously leads to general grime in the floor and the house, and a general dog odor in the house. In regards to cats, my clients also ask me about the litter box and allergies. Litter boxes are a controlled environment; you put it in the bathroom  so it’s easy to clean out. And it needs to be cleaned regularly in order to not have an odor. We have ours hidden in a cabinet with a door for the cats.

So no, it’s nowhere near the major work of dog walking, potty training, and with a dog you must work around their schedule. The whole carrying around baggies full of dog doo until locating the nearest garbage or having to pick up dog doo in the yard regularly–well its not cool as it seems when shopping for that perfect dog.

You definitely have to make sure that you have no pet allergies before adopting a cat.  Its’ not fair to the cat to just discard them like garbage if you find you are allergic. Sometimes a cat rescue will let you take care of a cat temporarily to test this but most people know if they have cat allergies already. The Siberian Cat is supposed to be good for people who love cats, but not the allergic reactions that come with them.  Do your research on this one.

8 more advantages on cat vs dog ownership:

1. Cats are quieter. There will be no barking at 4 a.m. in the morning and naturally a cat’s meow is a lot softer than a dog’s bark. Your neighbors will appreciate this. It often annoyed us when we got a kitten because young cats play more at night than older cats. I have trained my cats by putting them into the bathroom until they calm down and slowly they learned to just chill out at night.

2. Cats clean themselves. Cats do such a great job of cleaning themselves that their hair doesn’t smell and they do not need to be bathed unless they are very old and sickly.

3. Cats have a litter box. There is no need to let the cat out at 5 a.m. or to go take the cat for a walk. Even with minimal training, cats know what a litter box  from day one and how to use it. All you need to do is clean it out once a day for solids and 1-2x weekly for the rest.

4. Cats can be left alone for a couple of days. Cats are  independent but don’t assume they don’t long for attention and love. If traveling, do not leave for longer than 2 days with food and water. They too miss their owners and sometimes get anxiety and stop eating until the owner comes home. Then they show their disapproval by hiding under the bed when you come home to show their disapproval.

5. Cats work with any schedule. If you’re a busy executive constantly on the go or have a leisure lifestyle, cats are great because they don’t need constant attention yet are very affectionate if treated with love and respect.

6. Cats are not obnoxious when it comes to greeting strangers. When a dog is excited, it barks and jumps to greet. Cats will be aloof or even afraid initially of strangers and then will come out to do investigating when all seems normal.

7. Cats cost FAR less in daily maintenance and yearly vet bills. In the lifetime of a pet, cats usually cost about $2,000 -$5,000 less than a dog when you take into account everything from vet bills to food needs.

8.  Cats are very trainable, just like dogs. They often learn just as quickly as a dog.

For responsible dog owners, by all means have your precious puppies, but I only want to clear up the misconception so many people have about our feline friends. Just open your mind to the possibilities of giving a cat a good home. They are quite compatible with dogs . Takes about 1 week to acclimate them most of them time but of course this depends on the type of dog you already have in the home. There are far more cats out there at shelters now and you would be so pleasantly surprised at how quickly you fall in love.

If you live in the Chicago area and are looking for a cat to rescue and give a good responsible home, please contact the ladies at the Hyde Park Cats.

They do TNR for Feral cats in the University of Chicago area and have many wonderful cats who have been domesticated and fostered to choose from. I have 3 cats in my alley that I and my husband have been caring for who are all nearly domesticated and need homes before winter. Please contact me if you are a super responsible person without allergies and we can set up a meeting to see the cats. Thank you!