The Eldert Street TNR cats have all been released … in our yard.
We had been thinking that our neighbor was overly burdened with cats she wasn't even sure she wanted, so we decided it was worth the gamble to release the cats in our yard. The cats, although territorial, should be able to figure out where they were from and could decide if they wanted to stay with us or go home. So when they were ready we set them loose and noted that nearly every cat seemed to know right where to go (the hole in the chain link fence in the back) so I suspect many of them had already been over here).
Within a couple of days we started seeing some of the crew hanging around in back. Phinneas, the orange tabby, was most prominent. He and Annie the calico, would even come right up to the house to peer in at us! Nifty, the kitten we trapped separately, also decided to stay, moving in to one of the outdoor shelters we have around the yard. Others have shown their face, but the final group has yet to reveal itself. Our neighbor has reported that some of the other cats have returned to her yard, so our theory seems to be working.
Once we know how many are staying in our yard, we can make arrangement for winter. We already have a lot of cat houses, but more may be needed. I will try to get the neighbor to set some in her yard, too, since god knows where her cats have been living through out the winter.
Overall, the whole project has come through incredibly well, and we are very grateful to our friends who helped make it possible. We fixed 8 females and 7 males, which means there are countless kittens that will not be born. I was surprised how many females there were, that's a lot of kitten factories shut down! But there is still a mother cat out there, the neighbor is tracking her and will alert us once the kittens start to show themselves. Then we will grab them all and the Eldert colony will be a thing of the past.