Until you have loved an animal, there is a part of your soul that remains asleep. Further, until you have done something for someone who can never repay you, then you have not lived. Everyone deserves a place to call home, and stray animals are no exception. They also would like to be treated with compassion since, like many scientific studies have proven, animals have feelings too. Therefore when a couple of women learned that their campus administration was planning on killing the stray cats, they intervened. Here is the story of how two women saved 200 campus cats through a program that began in 2002.
How the FURR program came to be
It can be annoying to have stray animals keep crossing your path, especially when you are in a hurry. It gets scary when darkness has fallen, and you are on your way to your room and hear the leaves rustling; you think someone is out to get you only to see a cat emerge from the bushes. Well, that is what students who live at Northgate Apartments have become accustomed to for the past few years. The spotting of animals across campus grounds became so frequent that they even named one orange cat, Pizza. Pizza quickly warmed the hearts of students, and they began leaving food outside of their apartments for Pizza and his friends. One girl even made a bed for him to lie in whenever the chilling cold became too much to bear.
However, the number of cats have dwindled in the last few years. The reduction is not because of being killed, although the thought had crossed the mind of the campus administration. There is a time when about 200 cats were roaming around the campus, and it was not a pleasant sight. To get rid of the mess, the administration decided to catch the cats and kill them. However, two women, Natascha Techen and Lisa Hartman, along with other university employees, could not bear the thought of eliminating the helpless animals. Consequently, Lisa established FURR (Feral University Rebel Rescuers) to prevent overpopulation. As if godsend Natascha had arrived in the same year and she offered to be an animal trapper.
How do they prevent the overpopulation of the animals?
Through the trap-neuter-rescue (TNR) program that the university approved and FURR facilitates, the stray cats were saved. Since the stray cats have already established their various home on campus, Natascha and her colleagues go to trap them in their homes. The cats are then taken to Oxford, where there is a veterinary clinic that vaccinates and spays or neuters them. To ensure they keep track of their cats, they cut the tips of the ears, and once they heal, the cats are released back to their homes. However, apart from neutering or spaying, they have placed over 100 cats in foster homes, and currently, only around 30 cats remain on campus.
Besides controlling overpopulation, the FURR program ensures that the felines are well-fed through various feeding sections. Still, the food is budgeted for; hence, they avoid wastage by making sure that there is nothing left over for raccoons to eat in the evening. Taking care of the stray cats also demanded that they keep the feeding locations a secret; not everyone liked having the cats in campus, so they used to be poisoned. Moreover, as part of maintaining the safety of the felines, Natascha and her colleagues check on them regularly so that any sick animals are given the necessary medical care.
They are not the only university to care for feral cats
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) faced a similar problem of having 100 stray cats on campus. Consequently, in 2008, they began a program, Husker Cats, to control the population through TNR as well as adoption and foster. So far, the program has been successful after the university was encouraged, seeing that the students got to learn about compassion and civic responsibility, according to I Heart Cats. Husker Cats wanted to reduce the cat numbers, and they were able to do so through fostering. Although they still have rare cases of kittens on the campus grounds, they place them in foster homes until they can be adopted. They also encourage donations to facilitate their efforts since $50 is enough to feed a colony for a month, while $100 will cater to spaying or neutering.
In the University of Georgia, they founded Cat Zip Alliance and Campus Cats program in 2007 to cater to the feral cats on campus. One cat named Mr. Nicks was born a stray, and the university not only vaccinated and neutered him, but he is also fed every day. He is not the only one since the campus takes care of 50 feral cats. The University of Essex also boasts of Pebbles that has been roaming in the school since 2010, long enough to get him an undergraduate degree and master’s degree. Pebbles, however, had an owner, but after being in the university, he kept going back, so they adopted him.
Are all feral cats on campus grounds safe?
The University of Malta had the unfortunate experience of its stray cats being killed or injured. Although some deaths are accidents by speeding vehicles or due to hunger after owners who do not want them anymore, let then out hoping they die, others are outright murders. According to Insiter Online, as reported in 2017, some cats were poisoned, injured, and drowned. Another cat was run over several times and stoned to death, which makes you wonder if there is humanity left in some of us.
Security guards of the campus suspected bikers who would go to the university after students and lecturers left. The bikers not only posed a threat to the animals but also to university lecturers who avoided lecturing on weekends. Fortunately, these cases are not the norm in many universities. After all, cats are adorable, stray, or not, so they feel at home whenever there are shown compassion.