SU Cat Partners Provides Care for Feline Friends
Photo by Lanie Tunnell
By: Julie Swets
By now, you have probably fallen in love with the myriad of charming cats you’ve seen around our campus.
The Cat Partners of Southwestern University (CPSU) has been taking care of these campus cats since Alex Brown officially founded the organization during her senior year in 2011. When Brown noticed a couple of cats living around the forest near the DLC parking lots, she began to implement a program called Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR) in order to control the rapid population growth and improve the health of older cats and newborn kittens alike. At the time, Brown was also feeding these cats and giving them appropriate vaccinations.
“The overpopulation issue has been an interest of mine since I was a child volunteer at my local animal shelter,” Brown said. “There were threats that the cats were becoming a nuisance and would be taken to the animal shelter to be put to sleep, and I wanted to prevent that from happening.”
Now, CPSU has grown to include three campus feeding stations that are upkept by SU students, faculty, staff, and community friends even over the summer and official holidays to serve the colonies of the eight documented feral cats at SU: Gray Mama, Earl, Gaia, Mr. Socks, Super Cal, Mustachio, Madeline, and Squinty. During the 2015-2016 school year, the organization logged over 1500 volunteer hours.
To provide optimal care for these cats, CPSU has reached out to multiple Georgetown institutions from the program’s beginning.
“Georgetown Animal Outreach (GAO) was invaluable in helping us get started, transferring trapped cats to appropriate veterinary hospitals to have them spayed/neutered and get their vaccinations, and then returning them back to me so I could release them on campus,” Brown said.
Another vital partner to CPSU is the Georgetown City Animal Shelter. “They provide discounted spay/neuter services to residents in the City, including Cat Partners. Two of our campus feral cats (Earl and Gaia) were spayed and neutered there recently for a deeply discounted price,” CPSU’s faculty advisor Kelly Lessard said.
Over the years, CPSU has made quite an impact. Since August 2015, five adult cats have been spayed/neutered, three feral cats received necessary veterinary treatment, and 28 kittens were neutered and adopted out.
“Our three colonies are strongly established and new cats are becoming rare. Trapping of strange cats and kittens has gone from a flood to a trickle. Life has gotten much easier,” Lessard said.
While providing invaluable care for the animal world, CPSU, through years of dedication and hard work, has also benefitted its members.
“For students who’ve had to leave their animals to come to college, it’s a fun way to have a connection with animals again without even having to leave campus!” Brown said.
Goals for the future of CPSU include increasing human socialization among the campus cats, fundraising to ensure medical care for the cats, and encourage use of the TNR method, rather than Trap and Euthanize.
“Having the opportunity to take care of a pair of darling kittens with my sister was so awesome!” SU alumna Lilly Dennis said. “I’ve never felt able to adopt an animal permanently, just because I don’t know where I’ll be in a couple years, but having the chance to foster kittens was perfect! I miss them so much!”
Joining the Cat Partners is easy: Just email Kelly Lessard, and you can feed, look after, and advocate for the cats and kittens that add so much to Southwestern’s personality!