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It's nice being so close to my classes and all the activities that happen here. There is always something to do!
- Amanda Y. (Senior, Merrill Hall)
Aggie Cat Services
What is ACS? Aggie Cat Services (ACS) is a a committee of volunteers including faculty, staff, students, and community members. We are a non-profit organization that relies entirely on donations and committee fundraising. Our primary goal is to reduce the feral cat population on campus through a sustained and humane Trap-Neuter-Return-Mantain (TNRM) program.
What is a feral cat? Feral cats are domestic cats or the descendants of domestic cats that have reverted to a wild state. Feral cats are scared of humans are often only seen at night around dumpsters and other scavenging areas. Contrary to popular belief, feral cats are not aggressive or dangerous unless overtly threatened.
How did the cats get here? Most feral cats start as household pets that were abandoned by their human owners. These owners may have been well intentioned but were probably not prepared for the many responsibilities of pet ownership, including the cost of food and supplies, veterinary care, and the time commitment. The abandoned cats breed and spawn a generation of cats that have not lived as pets.
Where are the feral cats at USU? There a number of colonies on the USU campus concentrated near our family housing and Central Campus. The cats congregate around the feeding stations in these areas and give the impression of large concentrated populations. The reality is that the majority of these cats have been neutered and the overall population is being reduced.
Why care about feral cats? When managed appropriately, feral cat colonies can have a positive impact on our communities by keeping local rodent populations under control, but they can also create concerns of health and safety to human community members. Feral cats breed in large numbers and create groups of scavengers that fight and carry disease. Many feral cats are malnourished and frightened of humans. TNRM reduces the overall population while ensuring a healthy colony that will continue to control rodent infestation.
Why not just kill the cats? It is difficult to trap feral cats. Those not trapped and killed will reproduce at a rapid rate and the population will continue to grow. Cats from surrounding territories will also move in to replace the trapped cats. Feral cat colonies stay small because the breeding population is drastically reduced since the majority of cats are fixed. Cats are very territorial and an established colony will prevent new, non-neutered cats from moving in. It is also inhumane to simply kill feral cats since their very existence is due to human neglect.
How does TNRM work?
- To begin the process of creating a healthy colony of feral cats, Aggie Cat Services sets up a wooden feeding station in a predetermined location and provides dry food and water once a day. Well-fed feral cats will continue to hunt but in smaller numbers. They have stronger immune systems and are less prone to disease. They are also more likely to stay out of the garbage and off your porches.
- Once we have established a feeding pattern over several weeks, we remove the food for a day or two and set up live traps. The traps are out for limited period of time and are monitored at all times by a trained volunteer.
- The trapped cats are then taken to a local veterinary clinic and spayed or neutered. You can identify these cats by their clipped ears. The cats will be checked for disease and given their shots. Cats that are healthy and friendly to humans will be put up for adoption through a local shelter.
- Healthy but completely feral cats will be returned to where they were trapped and will continue to be fed as part of the colony. Unhealthy cats that pose a danger to other cats or humans will be held and treated and/or euthanized based on the severity of their illness.
- Through this process, a smaller colony of healthy, infertile cats is created. A typical colony can sustain 15-40 cats. The colony becomes conditioned to the feeding process and often shows up right at the appointed time. The volunteer feeder keeps track of the cats and notes any changes in behavior and/or health.
- For the feral cat program to work, it is important that cats are fed at designated feeding stations so colonies can be managed and avoid becoming a nuisance.