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Plan Devised for Control of Feral Cats at Valley College

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

The message coming out of a Wednesday town hall meeting on feral cats at Valley College was unmistakably clear: Spay (or neuter) the strays.

About 65 people gathered at the Campus Center to question college administrators and animal activists about their plans to cope with an estimated 50 to 100 cats living on campus.

Valley College President Tyree Wieder convened the meeting to ease tensions between maintenance workers and a loosely organized band of cat caretakers. Each side has accused the other of sabotaging its efforts to control the campus cat population.

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By the end of the hourlong session, however, both sides had agreed to a proposal by the animal rights group Actors and Others for Animals to limit the number of cats on campus.

Wednesday was the first time both sides had discussed the matter face-to-face, school officials said.

Initially, there were a few heated exchanges.

“Why do we need the cats here?” bellowed Kevin Curtin, the campus’ electrical supervisor. “This is a working place and we don’t need cats!”

Another man wondered aloud why stray cats were being fed and sheltered, although rats would be exterminated posthaste.

“You aren’t going to get rid of the cats because you can’t,” said Joyce Pieper of Woodland Hills, who advises institutions on how to manage feral cat populations.

While an overpopulation of stray cats can be a problem, she said, once their numbers are reduced, they keep other cats away and limit rodents.

Under the feline control plan, volunteers will set up cat feeding stations at designated sites rather than scattered throughout campus.

Additionally, cat caretakers will work with animal activists to seek funding from national foundations to pay the costs to feed, trap, sterilize and return the felines to campus. As it stands now, college officials said members of the faculty and staff are using their own money to have cats sterilized. The procedure usually costs $40 to $45. Animal activists estimate that a healthy female cat can have a litter of four or five kittens at least three times a year.

Also, volunteers will ask cat food manufacturers to donate dry food to the college.

Wieder said the plan would be implemented immediately and given a six-month trial.


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