Many students have noticed an increase in cats trotting through UCA campus – so much so, that both the Echo Online and The Fountain have published satirical articles on this very issue.
The cats generally remain out of sight during the day. At night, students have reported seeing a large number of cats roaming campus.
“I see cats on campus almost every day,” Sophomore Chloe Zedlitz said. “I’ve seen people feeding cats or attempting to. The cats are skittish and don’t like for people to approach them.”
Kevin Carter, an employee of UCA’s Physical Plant, said, “If you walk around on campus in the morning, before students show up, you’ll find cats retreating and hiding all over the place. They see you and hide under bushes, or go into a storm drain.”
Some have tried to take cats home, but have not had luck domesticating them.
Zedlitz said she has known people who have tried to adopt stray cats off campus.
“I have several friends who have tried to take in a stray cat but the cats are typically feral and don’t adapt to being someone’s pet very well,” Zedlitz said.
Students say they see cats most often near Burdick Hall at nighttime when things start to calm down on campus. Sophomore Jimmy Martin has noticed the cats when going to and from classes.
“There is an infestation at Burdick, and it’s most noticeable at my 6 o’clock class. I’ve noticed that some part of faculty is feeding these cats,” Martin said.
Cat sightings are not limited to Burdick and have occurred all over campus.
“The times I have seen cats on campus, they were near McCastlain and Bernard,” Junior Alex Doolittle said.
The number of stray cats on campus has begun to cause problems for faculty at UCA.
Carter said cats are being caught in the department’s traps purchased to catch and relocate larger animals like raccoons and opossums.
Carter said since these larger traps have recently been capturing cats it’s been harder for the department to obtain animals for relocation.
Additionally, the physical plant workers who maintain the grounds often find cat excrement in the flower beds, under bushes and the like during routine maintenance.
Carter said no ill feelings are meant towards the cats, but setting food out for them is leading to their procreating at an increasing rate.
Food that is meant for cats is often eaten by animals other than the intended cats. So, while the food has contributed to the well-being of the cats on campus, it also supports populations of other animals.
There is a program at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro that spays and neuters cats captured on campus. A local Jonesboro veterinarian volunteered his services to fix all stray cats found so the population there does not get out of hand. As of yet, there is no such program at UCA.
“I know there’s a cat that won’t leave my house. It had kittens,” Martini said, who lives a block away from campus.
More cat sightings can be expected as the weather gets warmer.