The cat's out of the bag
Club gives feral animals a home on campus
Published: Monday, November 30, 2009
Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 21:07
At one time or another, you have probably encountered one or more of the feral cats that live on the Texas A&M campus. You might have wondered, "Where did it come from?" or "How many of these suckers are out there?" or "Shall I pet it?" or "May I have it?" Well you've got questions, and Aggie Feral Cat Alliance of Texas has answers.
A feral cat is a cat that is too wild for regular human contact. Feral Cat Alliance of Texas is a volunteer group made up of Texas A&M students, faculty and staff dedicated to providing care for and long-term management of the feral cats on A&M's campus. The organization also provides educational information about responsible pet ownership in order to help reduce strays, a common source of feral cats.
The focus of the alliance's activities is to take care of existing feral cats and to take steps to lower the feral population. One of the ways this is accomplished is through humane capture, testing and release of feral cats on campus. By spaying or neutering captured cats, the group has helped bring the campus feral population down. This means more cats are in domestic settings than in the wild.
"It really helps us that people know we take care of the cats on campus and that we aren't just running wild and crazy," said Allegra Lamison, a second year veterinary student at Texas A&M and the president of the alliance.
The alliance uses a TNR (trap-neuter-release) system. The cats are caught in traps, identified, tested for diseases, vaccinated, spayed or neutered and then re-released to the location they were captured. Often, the alliance allows senior veterinary students the opportunity to perform these operations.
The alliance also establishes feeding stations for the cats at locations on campus. Volunteers provide meals to the cats and observe them daily. The locations of the stations vary from year to year. As of now, there is a cat regularly fed at the Biological Sciences Building East building (the cat is aptly named BSBE), two cats in the greenhouse across the street from BSBE, and another two near the West Campus Library. There are also colonies of cats being fed at more remote locations like riverside campus locations and Graham Road.
Another part of the alliance program involves providing foster care and rehabilitation for kittens and socialized adult cats. These cats are allowed to be adopted by qualified owners. The alliance also regularly provides information to the community about responsible pet ownership and the problems that pet overpopulation can cause.
However, because the feral population is so much lower than it was in 1998 (when the alliance began), activities differ from what they used to be.
"We don't have as many members doing some of the old activities as we used to. We used to have a very large feral cat population problem on campus and we had a lot of members because we had a lot of cat colonies, but we have made a really big dent in the cat population on campus. There are, I think, less than 100 [cats] on campus right now. So we've gotten our undergrads more involved and reached out the community. There are a lot of cat shelters around that we collect donations for and foster."
Lamison said the alliance accepts help from nonmembers.
"We are always looking for people to help us with our community service projects," Lamison said.
Aggie Feral Cat Alliance of Texas
To get involved, e-mail
afcat.tamu.edu and ask to be put on the alliance's listserv, or call