The omnipresent feral cats on the USF campus are often called a nuisance. Students can be seen walking past them and throwing looks in their direction that say, “Why are they allowed to fester on our campus?”
The bowls of cat food set out by USF staff and individuals who drive onto campus just to set out food are often the targets of such glares. And what many students don’t know is that veterinarians from the area surrounding USF spend considerable time capturing such cats, spaying or neutering them, giving them shots against all sorts of illnesses they can potentially carry and then release them again on campus.
This may appear questionable as time and money is invested into what most students consider an eyesore they would rather get rid of altogether.
But the reason for such practices is a simple one: Having a controlled and reasonably healthy cat population on campus ensure that diseased cats are prevented from moving into the area.
Cats are territorial. The ones present on campus will defend their territory against others. If the cats on campus were to be captured and taken away, it would create a vacuum that would soon be filled by cats moving in from the areas surrounding the campus. If this was to happen, it would become impossible to ensure that the cats on campus do not carry any diseases. Considering how many humans are present on campus, this is not an option as such cats could potentially pose a health risk.
Because of such migration, it is also impossible to keep the campus entirely free of cats. Instead, volunteers elected to ensure that the cat population at USF receives health check-ups and food in an attempt to make them safe.
Students may not like the cats they see on campus, but the alternatives are even less appealing.