There is one big difference on campus this semester. The Eastern cats, as many have come to call them, have disappeared.
For the past several years, these cats have become part of the community for some students and staff.
“These cats were my pets away from home,” junior Chelsea Zimmerman said. “I’ve spent hours just spending time around them and taking pictures.”
Concerns over the cats’ safety on campus arose last semester. According to Zimmerman, rumors of someone drowning the cats had drawn her attention.
At this point, she went to work to try to help the cats by creating a Facebook note to bring awareness about the cats. She also used this as a means to raise money to help the cats.
Zimmerman brought her concerns to Bettie Ann Brigham, Vice President of Student Development.
“We have always been concerned over the years over stray animals that make their way into our campus,” Brigham said.
Over Christmas break, arrangements were made with the Delaware County SPCA to help out with the cat situation.
According to Donna MacIntosh in Plant Operations, the Delaware County SPCA was the only shelter that responded to their emails.
“They told me they would accept the cats and they would be evaluated and put up for adoption depending on their adoptability and health,” she said.
Many shelters refused to take in the cats due to their feral status. Feral, or wild, cats are not trainable and often have rabies or other dangerous diseases.
“Keeping the cats on campus would be irresponsible and inhumane,” Brigham said. “Our primary concern is student safety.”
Sadly, all stories do not have happy endings. As of Jan. 31, all the cats were deemed unadoptable and/or diseased and were put down.
“It is unfortunate that the cats were euthanized,” MacIntosh said. “We had hoped for a much better outcome.”
“There was hope for one who was more friendly; however, that one was diseased and could not be saved either,” Brigham said.
“I feel that Plant Operations did the best we could and gave the cats the best chance for survival by taking them to the SPCA,” MacIntosh said.
“I will miss these cats,” Zimmerman said, “but as my heart is aching, I know that I did what was best for them.”