Susan Woodhouse has a long history of saving animals. During childhood fishing trips, the 1989 graduate often surreptitiously freed the fish her father and brother caught. Her first communion pictures show her holding an abandoned cat her family nursed back to health. During her University days, she spent weekends trekking through Norwood and Evanston, backpack loaded with cat food, feeding the homeless cats.
But last year, Woodhouse took her fondness for felines to another level when she helped found Community Catalyst TNR Network. The organization’s goal is to ultimately eliminate the population of homeless cats—which Woodhouse characterizes as an epidemic—through a program of trapping, neutering and releasing. Adult feral cats—those that have always been wild—are returned to their natural environment or a safe alternative, where they are monitored and fed by volunteers. Domestic strays and kittens under eight weeks are placed in foster homes while the organization tries to find permanent homes for them via its web site, www.communitycats. petfinder.com. In 2004, the organization neutered 150 cats and found permanent homes for 70 kittens or stray adults.
A former teacher and social worker, Woodhouse earns a living with her family’s real estate appraisal business. “My parents don’t blink an eye when I show up with a litter of kittens,” she says. “That’s a perk I can’t give up.”