Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is Tree House Humane Society?

A: Tree House Humane Society is a humane organization that is best known as Chicago’s first cage-free cat shelter, started in 1971. Tree House exists to help stray, injured, abused, and abandoned cats. We also offer a wide variety of programs to help animals and the people who live with them. Please call our main desk number at 773-262-4000 if you have questions. 

Some of our programs include:

Volunteer Program – ext. 123

Junior Volunteer Program – ext. 123

Humane Trap Rentals, TNR assistance, Spay/Neuter – main desk

Cat Adoption Center – main desk

Development – ext. 120

Outreach Events – ext. 123


Q: How did Tree House get started?

A: A small group of caring people were concerned about the lack of services for animals in Chicago. They held meetings, planned, and organized. They also took in needy strays and cared for them in their own homes. Once their ideas began to take hold, they formed the organization that would take the name of Tree House Humane Society. You can read more about it here


Q: Are you all volunteers?

A: No. We have a dedicated full-time staff that helps us care for our cats and run our programs 7 days a week. We also have over 200 hard working, dedicated volunteers working side by side with our staff. Volunteers work in every area of Tree House from direct care for the cats to data entry. Members of our Board of Directors are all Tree House volunteers, as well.


Q: Do you have dogs at Tree House Humane Society?

A: No. We are not licensed to have dogs on our property. Although we do not shelter dogs, we do offer humane education programs that encourage kindness to all animals. We also assist low-income families with food with our Pet Food Pantry, and we will be serving dogs with our upcoming Veterinary Wellness Center in 2021.


Q: How much does it cost to adopt a cat from Tree House Humane Society?

A: Tree House Humane Society’s current adoption fee is $95 for adult cats, $125 for a kitten (cats under 6 months old), and $225 for a pair of kittens. Adoption fee includes spay or neuter surgery, a microchip, and complete vaccinations. 


Q: Where do you get your operating funds? Do you receive government grants?

A: Tree House Humane Society is funded by donations, adoption fees, and merchandise sales. We do apply for private and corporate grants when we can, but we rely on the generosity of caring individuals for the majority of our funding. We do not receive any government assistance.


Q: Can I adopt an unspayed/unneutered cat?

A: No. With more than 4 million unwanted cats and dogs euthanized each year, we cannot allow any Tree House Humane Society cat to be adopted out prior to spay or neuter.


Q: Do you house FIV-positive and FeLV-positive cats?

A: Yes! We see no reason not to. Our FIV-positive cats are integrated into our normal colonies. Our FeLV-positive cats are in colony 1. Come visit and see how amazing they are! Our counselors will discuss with you all of the specifics of their care to see if one will fit well into your home. 


Q: I would like to admit my cat to Tree House. Will you take him?

A: Tree House Humane Society’s focus is to aid sick, injured, and abused stray cats. And as such, we cannot take owner surrenders. We must place priority with those cats that have no one to speak for them! If you would like to call Tree House Humane Society at (773) 262-4000, we would be happy to direct you to a shelter that might be able to assist you. We frequently recommend calling Chicago Animal Care and Control or Anti-Cruelty Society, both of which are in Chicago.


Q: There is a stray cat in my alley. Will you take her?

A: Admissions are handled according to appointment availability and shelter space. Please call our reception desk at (773) 262-4000 and let our staff know about the cat’s situation.


Q: I am in a new relationship and my new partner does not like my cat. Will you take my cat?

A: It might take time to introduce your cat to the new person in your life. There are several ways to introduce the new person in your life to your companion animal. With time and a little patience you and your new partner can both enjoy the company of your cat together. Tree House can offer you advice to help introduce your companion animal to the new person in your life.


Q: Do you ever turn animals away?

A: Our model cage-free Adoption Center is designed to rescue and rehabilitate sick and injured strays – those that would face immediate euthanasia at many other shelters. Because of the vast number of stray and unwanted animals, no shelter could possibly take them all. That is why Tree House Humane Society attacks the homeless animal problem on all fronts – with spay and neuter services, humane education, behavior counseling, assistance for low-income cat and dog owners, as well as sheltering.


Q: I supported you with a donation, but then you refused to admit a cat I found. Why should I continue to support you?

A: Our services are limited only by our resources. We would love to take in every homeless animal, but unfortunately, that is not realistic. We consider many factors for admission including socialization, health, quality of life, and resources. It is very hard to say no, but we owe it to the animals we already shelter to be able to provide proper care for them. We are sorry for not being able to take the animal you found, but please remember that withholding donations from us will only mean that we can do less – the more resources we have, the more we can do.


Q: I would like to volunteer at Tree House Humane Society. What do I need to do?

A: Please visit the volunteer section of our website. There you will find numerous opportunities that hopefully will interest you. If you have specific questions about a volunteer position, do not hesitate to email our Volunteer Coordinator.


Q: My cat … (scratches my furniture, urinates out of the box, bites, etc.). What can I do?

A: Cats are complex creatures! There could be many reasons for your cat’s behavior. It is always a good idea to first consult with your veterinarian if your cat displays a new, odd behavior. You can also call us at 773-262-4000 for more assistance. 


Q: I have heard some really (good/bad) things about Tree House Humane Society. Are these things true?

A: At Tree House we are very proud of our service to the cats and the community! You should stop in for a visit and see the shelter for yourself. We love to show off our shelter and our great cats! We are open for adoption Thursday thru Sunday from 12 pm to 6 pm or you can call 773-262-4000 to arrange a tour.


Q: What is your position on declawing cats?

A: Tree House Humane Society does not support declawing. Scratching is a natural activity for cats and should be directed towards items intended for that use, like a scratching post or pad.


Q: My animal is in need of emergency care. Can I bring him to you?

A: Tree House is not set up to be an emergency clinic and cannot assist with emergency care. Please locate your nearest emergency clinic.