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Letter to the editor: Celebrating Stanford cats

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The pioneering TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) program of the Stanford Cat Network featured in The Daily (“Cat tales,” May 9) has succeeded in humanely reducing the campus homeless cat population from 500 in ’89 to a few dozen healthy, feral (unsocialized) cats through spay/neuter, adoption and natural attrition. It also has been a personally-fulfilling and mutually-enriching journey, as it has evolved and adapted to assure continued care of the cats. The seemingly endless supply will continue, until we spay/neuter our pets, reducing the population of unwanted animals to match the demand of loving homes for them.

Despite being tired or busy or the weather being dismal, the cats must be fed. I welcome the peaceful, restorative routine of my daily feeding rounds for my feline friends. I feel personally violated and concerned for the cats’ safety when feeding stations are disturbed by intruders. Ours is a mission of compassion for these cats who are victims of our human shortcomings.

Rescued tame newcomers need a comforting, secure holding place until foster homes are found. Recuperating feral cats need a quiet, safe place to recover. We are committed to no kill, and we find adoptive homes for healthy, tame cats who are positive for infectious feline leukemia. Our new enclosure was finished just in time to also provide a home for Milton, feral so unadoptable. He could not roam freely on campus; he had nowhere else to go. Now, he still enjoys a sheltered life outdoors, where volunteers visit and care for him using isolation techniques to protect him from disease as well as other cats, whose health is not compromised. The FeLv virus is fragile, but it compromises the immune system of its host. Know that the homeless cat population from which most of us adopt our pets and into which others lose or abandon them – a revolving door – is a generally healthy population.

Cats lost or abandoned by students do account for some of the several newcomers, a fact on residential campuses nationwide. You seek companionship but may assume a responsibility that is too much for your busy lives in transition. That is why we urge you, “Don’t Adopt” in the fall, then “Don’t Abandon” in the spring, in emails forwarded by Housing. There always will be needy pets to adopt when you are ready for that commitment.

The SCN always needs volunteers, and we have urged you to help us. More students volunteered to feed, when there were many cats to see. We see fewer volunteers now that there are fewer cats. Volunteers must feed on faith that watchful cats are there depending on them. Our intervention makes the difference for the cats’ survival.

SCN volunteers can’t be everywhere. We need the Stanford community to be alert for cats that need help and to know to contact us to intervene and rescue them.

We invite you to visit our website catnet.stanford.edu.

 

Carole Miller

Co-founder, Stanford Cat Network