There is a large problem that is occurring daily on the University ofWest Georgia campus. This problem has recently been brought up with the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and The Wild Things organization. Currently, the feral cats on campus raise risk for the well-being of students, staff and the campus environment.
UWG is taking action to deal with the problem of feral cats on campus. Many students have announced their concern because of the possible cat diseases some cats may carry. UWG has set a plan in action to lower the cat population and, in doing so, reducing the risk of the diseases possibly carried.
According to the ASPCA and the CDC, in the past 10 years, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is at an all-time high for the nation. Not only is there the issue of FIV, but feral cats can also carry rabies, toxoplasmosis, plague, parasites, feline leukemia virus plus a multitude of others.
“The rise in FIV and other diseases was the main reason that UWG amended its program to testing and immunizing the cats,” said Director of Risk Management/Environmental Health & Safety (RM/EHS) Matt Jordan. “Despite their cuteness, feral cats are wild animals. Their instinct is to fight viciously if they are cornered or if they feel threatened.”
Students have been trying to help with the cats for some time. However, one specific group has made an impact on the campus. The Pre-Vet society at UWG has tried to work with university officials to lower the population of the cats.
RM/EHS had to decline any lend of help from students due to liability, regulatory and operational issues.
“The university is reducing its feral cat population through sterilization,” said Jordan. “The most effective, and most humane, way to address the cat population is to prevent kittens from being added to the colonies. In the past few years, the university has reduced its cat population significantly through adoption, attrition and preventing offspring. There is also a Feral Cat Committee that is in development and will include the counsel of a local veterinarian.”
The university has practiced a Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR) program for several years, but due to concern for transmitted diseases, the university has modified TNR to a Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Release (TNVR) program. The overarching goal is to humanely reduce the cat population.
“The TNVR program is not only humane, but it is simple,” said Jordan. “University employees and volunteers working for Risk Management periodically trap the cats, then take the cats to the spay/neuter clinic for testing, vaccinating and neutering, and finally return the cats to their colonies.”