Campus organization seeks to help feral cats

The number of cats on campus has declined recently with the help of oncampus organization Frogs and Cats Together.

The program was started seven years ago in 2004 by Cari Alexander, a librarian at the Mary Couts Burnett Library.

The objective of the program is to trap, neuter, and return feral cats living on and around campus, and aim to better control the feral cat population.

“Frogs and Cats Together is a more humane way of treating animals,” Alexander said.

FACT is a staff/faculty organization due to the nature of tasks involving the trap, neuter and return method and the transience of students.

Alexander said she had only been at TCU for one year when she was contacted by UNT’s Feral Cat Rescue Group to start TCU’s FACT.

“I was the trapping coordinator for UNT for two years and a feeder for three years so I knew what feral cat maintenance was all about,” Alexander said.

Alexander said she had to photograph cats on campus for three months to convince TCU administration that there was a feral cat problem.

After convincing administration about the program, the FACT organization was given the green light. Getting the cats spayed or neutered was imperative to controlling the population, Alexander said.

“Because cats are not breeding, natural [selection] thins out the cats,” Alexander said.

Alexander said if a colony is completely eradicated then more cats will move in. This process is called the Vacuum Effect.

Brooke Long, a sophomore geology major and president of the Environmental Club, said as a cat owner, she was concerned about animal care and treatment.

Long said she has two cats, who are both two years old.

“If you take in a cat, you should definitely take care of it and treat it with the same due respect as humans,” Long said.

Alexander  said since she started the program seven years ago, the numbers of animals living on campus has decreased steadily.

“At first we trapped every month. The second year we only trapped when someone spotted a new cat or a litter of kittens on campus,” Alexander  said.

When the program began, there were 34 cats in Worth Hills, she said. The group catches between one and five cats each time it sets traps.

“The last mass trapping we did was before the stadium implosion last year to remove the only living colony under the stands,” Alexander said.

There are an estimated 10 cats living on or near campus being maintained by FACT.

College campuses are ideal locations for feral  cats because colleges have the essential food, water and shelter that allow the cats to survive oncampus, Alexander said.

Because of their territorial nature, most cats never leave and create a long-term colony, making it time-consuming to trap and remove the cats from the campus.

Joe Rodriguez, a senior biology and Spanish double major, said that both domestic and wild animals should be cared for.

“I think that we as humans, being a dominant species and controlling the ecosystem, have an obligation to do what’s necessary to make sure our environment is safe and clean,” Rodriguez said.

There are steps that need to be taken so animals and humans can exist together peacefully, he said.

Alexander said People for Animal Well-being (PAW), advised by Dr. Carol Thompson is a group that frequently assists FACT.

For more information on how to get involved, contact Cari Alexander at [email protected]

Both organizations will be hosting their annual National Feral Cat Day on Oct. 17 in front of the library.