ACU’s Facilities and Campus Management Department has come up with a plan to keep the campus safe from an overpopulation of cats. They are calling it the Feral Cat Initiative.
For many years ACU has struggled with cats wandering in and remaining on campus, but actions are finally being taken. With a new Trap-Neuter-Return program, campus management will humanely capture the animals, have them spayed/neutered, vaccinated for rabies and then returned to campus.
Corey Ruff, executive director of facilities and campus management, is a main advisor for the initiative.
“TNR stabilizes the feral cat colonies, improves and protects their lives, and benefits the campus and the feral cats,” Ruff said. “Many of these feral cats on campus are the offspring of stray cats that have been abandoned.”
Ruff said Dr. Dale Hembree, a local veterinarian, is partnering with the program by taking the cats to his clinic and determining whether they are in good enough condition to be spayed/neutered. Each cat is then ear-tipped for identification and given a rabies shot. The entire process is completed within a matter of hours, ending with the cats’ return to campus.
ACU Police Chief Jimmy Ellison is aware of the growing problem, despite not being directly affected by it.
“There are some people that think the cats are cute. And they want to feed and take care of them,” Ellison said. “But they wouldn’t want 50 stray cats living out on their back porch at their home. So why do they want them living in the alley on campus?”
The purpose of the program is not to immediately eliminate the feline population, but to control it. Another step in this plan is to regulate the food supply of the cats.
Marty Farmer, the facilities management’s carpenter, and his students are currently building stations that will be filled with food and water for the cats. They are also in search of people, perhaps those who are already feeding the cats, to volunteer as feeders specifically for the program. Through these actions, the cats will be encouraged to hunt rodents, snakes and birds as if they were in their natural habitat.
Any one interested in helping by volunteering their time, skills or money for the program can email the group at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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