Update from #FortFaulsey Cat Colony on Pittsburgh’s Northside

Fort Faulsey is a community cat colony on Pittsburgh’s Northside. It has two “branches” with feeding stations, shelters, outdoor cat beds, and more. They are about 300 feet apart. I refer to the OG location as Fort Faulsey and to our backyard as the ‘branch campus.’

For decades, these cats and urban wildlife were drawn to a local home, first by it’s resident who was an animal spiritualist and after her death in 2001, they found refuge in her abandoned house.

When the house was demolished in 2021, they relocated to a nearby property where the owner allowed us to set up the resources. Slowly more of the cats showed up in our backyard, most move back and forth. They also visit a lot of other spots on the block, including a neighbor’s blacktop lot (for heat) and to a few of the local ladies for treats.

The colony has been stable (no kittens) for 3 years. It has about 13-16 regular visitor cats and another 10 occasional visitors on a rotating schedule. The cats coexist with groundhogs, raccoons, possum, birds, even a young adult male deer. We consult with wildlife experts to ensure the colony is causing no harm.

For example, cat good is not healthy for groundhogs, but keeping them away is nigh impossible. So we planted a distraction garden in our backyard – a glorified compost pile really – and it does seem to keep them busy.

We have the space regularly mowed. We’ve identified six other feeders/caretakers in an eight block area and know which cats are attached to those colonies. But they visit each other. I cringe each time I see Tony DiMera crossing the busy main street, especially when I know full well he has access to food at two locations on this side of that street. He’s neutered, he is a confident member of the colony, he does sprawl out on the outdoor cat beds. But there he goes …

It’s not an ideal life, but clean water and regular food combined with warm shelters is something. We don’t see evidence of significant fights or quarrels – there’s a hierarchy and we lean into it by using multiple feeding spots at each site. We spread the shelters out as well. I distribute treats and some canned food when it is donated to encourage positive interactions. We can tell by their behavior when a new cat is around.

Two cats, Oksana and EJ DiMera, are social. A half dozen talk to us, but keep their distance. Others respond to the arrival of food and tolerate us. Some still cower or are only seen on the trail cameras.

We always welcome donations of cat food and supplies. Feeding 13-16 cats plus other visitors 2x daily adds up.

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