Big cats on campus: How Abilene Christian deals with their feral cat population

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB) – Abilene Christian University is known for their Wildcat athletics, but they’ve got quite a few wild cats of a different sort on campus to deal with: the feral cat population that calls ACU home.

“Every spring you had multiple cat litters and very high mortality rates in the kittens”, explained ACU director of facilities and grounds Scott Warren. “We wanted to have a healthy cat population on campus.”

Warren says the cats aren’t a problem they could just whisk away: “We were told by experts if we tried to eliminate the cat population, a new population would move in.”

That’s why ACU took a different approach. Rather than kicking the cats out of school, they’re welcome to stay with free room and board, and a healthy meal plan. But as they say, nothing in life is free, so the cats do go through one major change in order to stay put.

“We started a trapping program where we would trap them and we partnered with a vet. Not only do they spay or neuter them, but they also will test them for feline AIDs, feline leukemia”, said Warren.

Over the past five years or so that the program has been in effect, the cat population has managed to persist, but stabilize.

Warren said, “The population ebbs and flows. We’ve sent 117 through, and we figure we have somewhere in the mid-70s on campus.”

Some cats do graduate and are adopted. Others are informally adopted on school grounds. Cats like Sarge, Lola, Fiona, and others have larger-than-life personalities, as their names suggest.

“You start naming the cats. They have different personalities. “Some of them are very reclusive and never trusting others”, said Warren. “They start becoming trusting after a while and get to where you can pet them every now and then.”

If nothing else, it goes to show that while the cats have overrun the campus, they don’t rule over it. Just don’t tell them that.

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