All about the cats that ‘meow’ Baylor their home

The cats on campus are unofficial mascots that enrich the lives of caretakers and students. Audrey La | photographer

Posted by Matt Kyle | Employed author

When students walk the Baylor campus, they are likely to see cats hanging in bushes, climbing trees, or napping in the sun. According to the cat handlers, around 100 cats call Baylor at home and live in many different colonies around campus.

The cats on campus are unofficial mascots that enrich the lives of the students and the caregivers who care for their health. Auderey La | photographer

Some colonies are small, like the two black cats that live behind the Castellaw Communications Center or the four kittens that live in the courtyard of the Draper Academic Building. Other colonies have up to a dozen cats, like the colony exploring the pipes and tunnels below Russell Hall.

Many of the cats on campus are named. Shadow and Junior are hanging out in one of the back corners of Castellaw. Panda, Leopard and Skinny Minnie call Sid Richardson’s bushes home. Midnight Fluff, Mama Cow, Grandma Cow, the Tailless Stumps, the cross-eyed Derp, Baby Derp and many other cats hang their hats under Russell Hall.

All cats on campus are looked after by various Baylor employees who, according to their own statements, are currently trying to put together an official Baylor student organization to better coordinate the care of the animals. Dr. Tim Campbell, a lecturer at the Department of Anthropology, said he feeds the cats at Sid Richardson and Russell Hall dry food and wet food every morning. He said a university-accredited organization would enable the cats to receive a higher standard of care.

“There are many different groups and different people who take care of the different cat colonies on campus,” Campbell said. “If we can all coordinate and set up feeding stations and feeding times, that’s good for the animals. More people on campus committed to cat welfare can help ease the pressure on individuals. I feed these cats every morning, but when I’m gone for three days who should feed them? A larger organization working together on campus could help maintain the standard of care for these animals. “

Campbell said the cat keepers tried to get elevated feeding stations that would prevent other wild animals like skunks, raccoons and possums from taking the cat food and they would be covered to protect the cats from the rain. The raised surface, about two feet above the ground, would allow cats to jump up and get at their food while other wild animals could not. Campbell also said that despite wild animals stealing the cats’ food, some of the cats have played around with possums and skunks.

Wild animals and stray cats are not an uncommon sight on college campuses. Dennis Nolan, Senior Director of Environmental Health and Safety at Baylor, said many universities – like the University of Texas, Texas Tech University, and Texas A&M University – have their own formalized cat programs for grooming the cats that live there.

Nolan said cats and other wild animals are coming to university campuses for food and shelter. In addition to feeding the cats, the cat coalition also has the cats neutered, neutered and vaccinated against diseases such as rabies through the Waco Animal Birth Control Clinic. It also sets traps to catch other wild animals on campus.

“You can’t get the cats to leave,” Nelson said. “You will always be on campus, but you can control the parameters and how they live there. By being spayed and neutered, getting their syringes, checking their feeding and feeding, they will actually take the place and keep other cats away. So it reduces your cat population in the long term. “

Carrie Kuehl, executive director of the Waco Animal Birth Control Clinic, said treating and vaccinating cats will help improve the health of cats and humans. She also said cats help improve mental health on campus by creating an “emotional connection” with Baylor and that the cats act as a natural element of pest control.

“There used to be a connection to the squirrels on campus,” says Kuehl. “I think that speaks to the need to have some kind of non-human connection outside of the classroom to calm the mind and nourish the heart. These are free range cats, so they will naturally improve their diet. In addition to nibbles, they’ll also eat things like mice, bugs, and things that could help make the campus a little more enjoyable. “

Many Baylor students said they love having cats on campus. San Jose, Calif. Senior Allison Laidlaw said she loves seeing the cute cats all over campus.

“There is a small community of cats over there by the Carroll Science Building and they had kittens a while ago,” said Laidlaw. “I feel like [it] It was definitely relaxing and wonderful to see them – just tiny little cats leading their best lives. “

Other students have made connections with the furry cats they see every day. San Antonio senior Hunter Hargett said he stops almost every day to pet Shadow and Junior when he goes to class in Castellaw. Keller Junior Georgia Bundick lived at the Heritage House for her freshman year and said she could see Shadow from her dorm window and would visit her several times a week.

“It’s really compassionate to see that,” said Bundick. “I like that everyone cares enough about Shadow to provide her with many good amenities. [The cats] Always make my day a little better It won’t necessarily change my whole day, but it’s really nice to walk to campus and run through drapers and see these little kitties. “

Shadow, sometimes called “Castellaw Cat”, has been an integral part of Baylor for quite some time. Ron Garrett, a TV engineer in the film and digital media division, said Shadow first appeared about 10 years ago. Together with John Cunningham, Senior Lecturer in Communications, Garrett has looked after and fed Shadow since they arrived. They upgraded Shadow’s bed from a makeshift plastic box to a covered bed, and gave Junior, who Garrett said first appeared about two years ago, a covered bed as well.

Garrett said Shadow was shy at first but warmed up over the years for faculty and students. While Junior is still pretty nervous, Garrett said that Junior warmed up for him and loves it when people caress him.

The cats’ names often have meanings related to their personality. Campbell said Grandma Cow and Mama Cow played maternal roles to many of the younger kittens, and Leopard loves hanging around up in the bushes with its feet dangling down. Campbell said Derp got his name because of his crossed eyes and a habit of falling into traps for skunks and raccoons over and over again.

The cats on campus are unofficial mascots that enrich the lives of the students and the caregivers who care for their health. Auderey La | photographer

Campbell said it was “against one’s morals” to leave the cats unconcerned. He said that Skinny Minnie was “skin and bones” when she was first caught, but is now healthy and well.

“I can’t starve animals who have no other choice,” said Campbell. “There are values ​​when cats run around on campus. People see a cat and it brightens their day. Then they go to class with a smile and we are more positive. You are here. That won’t change. That won’t go away. We should be good stewards of our furry little friends and help them. “

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