Campus group promotes spaying and neutering of feral cats

Students living in USF’s residence halls aren’t the only ones who call USF home. About 200 feral cats live on campus, too, and Students for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (SETA-USF) are hosting a fundraiser in front of the Marshall Center from 9 a.m. — 4 p.m. Wednesday to prevent cat overpopulation by raising money to spay and neuter feral cats on campus. Last year the group raised $200 cash and 200 lbs. of cat food, according to Kris Dotson, SETA-USF’s adviser.

“I’m hoping for the best,” she said, “because every year (donations) have gone up.”

This is her fourth year participating in the program, which encourages the Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) method.

According to Alley Cat Allies at , the nonprofit organization which developed National Feral Cat Day, “TNR is a comprehensive, ongoing program in which stray and feral cats already living outdoors in cities, towns and rural areas are humanely trapped, then evaluated, vaccinated and sterilized by veterinarians. Healthy adult cats too wild to be adopted are returned to their familiar habitat under the lifelong care of volunteers.”

Dotson said that she has 12 cats of her own and feeds and takes care of 25 feral cats.

She said she’s mostly been successful, although there was “one female I couldn’t catch who had kittens.”

Though it seems like spaying and neutering cats is an uphill battle in reducing the cat population, Dotson said there has been progress.

“Margaret Martinroe, part of the women’s group Cats on Campus, told me that this is the first year on campus that no baby kittens have been born,” Dotson said. “There are 90,000 cats in Hillsborough County and more than 100,000 feral cats. I’d like to try to get them all spayed and neutered.”

That goes along with Alley Cat Allies’ objectives because “the cost of sterilizing and returning a feral cat is less than half the cost of trapping, holding, killing and disposing of a feral cat. TNR protects public health and advances the goal of reducing the numbers of feral cats in the environment.”

At Wednesday’s National Feral Cat Day fundraiser, SETA-USF will be passing out educational literature, selling water and raffle tickets for $1 and accepting donations of either dry or canned cat food. Some of the prizes include a twin-size blanket with cat designs, jewelry, Christmas tree candles and Yankee Candles.