I applaud Texas Tech’s goal of reducing the feral cat population on campus as described in Monday’s issue of The Daily Toreador. Such a goal is a step in the right direction, but more action is needed. A cat colony on campus offers few benefits to the Tech community. Feral cats are documented vectors of toxoplasmosis, hookworm and rabies, among other diseases. The health risks posed by the cats are as real as they are preventable. Further, feral cats are efficient predators and research has shown they feed on wildlife even while being fed by humans. A recent report by The Wildlife Society states cats are responsible for the localized extinction of mammal, bird and reptile species.
I am a cat owner. Cats have been family pets for much of my life. A marked difference between most family pets and the cat colonies of Tech is that the latter imposes real ecological and health risks. Our university has limited feral cat management options and such an emotionally charged issue offers no solution that will be unilaterally supported. The time has come to evaluate solutions rationally, not emotionally. Eliminating the “return” in the current trap, neuter and return policy would be a responsible and beneficial change. Captured cats should be taken to animal shelters and made available for adoption by individuals who value their companionship. Lauren Sanderson of the Feral Cat Student Association suggested contacting Chancellor Kent Hance and President M. Duane Nellis if something should be done. This letter is just that: an appeal to dismiss emotional biases and accept the realization that feral cats have no place on campus.