They stroll along the school corridors, hang out in the cafeteria, take naps on empty benches, and observe the people entering the building like self-appointed security guards. These cats somehow managed to find their way inside the campus, looked around, and decided to stay. They are called campus cats and almost every campus has them.
The University of Augsburg in Germany has a daily visitor known simply as Campus Cat. The friendly feline helps students relax by giving them cuddles. He has become very popular on campus that a Facebook page dedicated to him was created. “Caring about the students is the main goal of the Campus Cat besides sleeping, sleeping, sleeping. A lot of students say Campus Cat helps to relax or chill before tests, papers, exams,” the campus cat secretary told boredpanda.com.
Benefits of Having Cats on Campus
They help keep the rodent population under control. Campus felines help keep pests out of campus by keeping rodents away from buildings and other areas where food is stored.
They are great stress relievers. Campus cats are a great way to reduce stress, promote well-being and help curb the rise of mental health issues on campus. It has been proven that pets can reduce stress and anxiety, help lower blood pressure, improve immune function and increase happiness. Samira Istfan Dabbous, a psychology professor at the Lebanese American University, says students’ mental health benefits greatly from having cats on campus. “Animals reduce anxiety and stress because they release a chemical that works on reducing the stress,” says professor Dabbous.
They provide entertainment. With their curious nature, cats can create a friendly atmosphere while students are studying. Additionally, students who are not allowed to keep a pet cat at home can have the joy of being with cats while they’re on campus grounds.
They encourage community activities. A shared love for cats can encourage students to organize group activities such as stray TNR, stray cat feeding, bring-your-cat-to-campus day, and promoting animal welfare awareness on social media, among others.
They provide a sense of purpose. Caring for campus cats promotes a sense of community and gives those who care for them a feeling of purpose.
While there are several benefits to letting cats stay on campus grounds, their population should also be held in check. Pet and stray animal overpopulation are one of the major problems that face animal welfare advocates today. To prevent cat overpopulation on campus, some universities have partnered with Non-Government Organizations to help them with TNR programs. De La Salle, Ateneo de Manila, and Adamson are just some of the universities that have a TNR program in place.
TNR, which stands for Trap-Neuter-Return, is the best solution to curb the rising number of stray animals. In TNR, stray cats are humanely trapped or captured, taken to a vet clinic to be neutered (male cats) or spayed (female cats), and returned to their place of origin after a few days. This way, no female cat on the campus will ever get pregnant again. It’s easy to identify spayed or neutered campus cats – they have clipped ear tips.
Benefits of TNR
TNR carries with it several benefits not only for the cats but for the university as well. TNR can effectively manage the campus cat population. In an 11-year TNR study at the University of Florida, it was observed that the number of cats on campus decreased by 66%, and after the first four years of operation, no new kittens were produced. Additionally, a TNR-supported cat colony will help keep unfixed stray cats away.
TNR enhances the health of the cats and eliminates unpleasant cat behaviors such as fighting with others cats and constant meowing. Neutering or spaying helps cats gain weight and enhances the condition of their coats. Leading cat biologists and TNR pioneers Dr. Jenny Remfry and Peter Neville studied a feral cat colony in London and discovered that after neutering, the cats were more loving toward one another, spent more time in groups, and engaged in less fighting.
Tips for students, faculty, and university personnel who are interested in organizing a TNR for their campus cats:
1. Form a group of like-minded individuals. Organizing a TNR program is a huge undertaking and you need all the help you can get.
2. Reach out to an animal welfare group that provides TNR. These groups will additional information on how to start the process, as well as information on how to maintain a cat colony. TNR is just the first step in caring for and maintaining a cat colony.
3. Coordinate with your university officials.
About the author: Rowena David is faculty member at College of Computer Science in the University of Makati, is a freelance writer (Tagalog short novels), admin of Philippine Pet Lovers Society Facebook page, an animal rescuer and animal welfare advocate.