Texas Tech trying to lower feral cat numbers

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Updated: 8/23/2013 8:12 pm
Ferals have found food and security every night on Texas Tech's campus since the early 90s. But that security will soon come to an end. Mary Hatfield is the president of the West Texas Humane society who funds the Texas Tech Feral Cat Program.

"The cats have been there a long time and there are many fewer cats than there used to be because over these years we've been trapping, neutering and spaying." Hatfield said.

Despite valiant efforts by the Feral Cat Program, Tech's spokesman, Chris Cook, said the population is not under control.

"Animal services with the city of Lubbock has come in and they set traps. Once the cats are removed there, they're taken to the shelter." Cook said.

Feral Cat Program volunteers say removing the animals' food and security they have had for so long is inhumane and will cause bigger problems. Sean Chilcote is a volunteer. Hatfield said it's very difficult to remove feral cats.

"It would create what is called a vacuum effect. Which basically would mean if there's no cats there then a lot of the rats would come, with rats come disease. Then other cats would come that are not a part of the program so they're not vaccinated, they're not fixed. So it would just create a big mess."

Cook said the health and safety of those on campus is a top priority, but with the current population of ferals, it is at risk. Especially for kids who play outside the Childhood Research and Development Center.

"It does take quite a bit of resources every morning to clean the urine, feces, vomit and other things that are in those areas that could be hazardous to children." Cook said.

The feral cats on Tech's campus are not like your typical domesticated house cat. They are wild animals who usually run away from people.

"They're going to be in the bushes, they're going to be hiding. They're very solitary. I've been a volunteer for a year and I barely even see them." Chilcote said.

Tech is swamped with complaints about cats trapped under buildings. Cook said trapped animals are being rescued as soon as possible. The last thing the university wants is to do any harm. If you see a cat in need of rescue from under a campus building, you can call the Tech Physical Plant at (806) 742-3314.
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