What is a “feral” cat?
A feral cat can be defined as any cat too wild or un-socialized to be kept as a pet in a typical home. These cats are often born in the wild. It is important to remember this because, if you try to touch them, they may bite! Often these cats can be identified by a notched ear. This painless surgical alteration shows that the free-living cat has been spayed or neutered.
Have you seen feral cats on campus?
At Texas A&M University, colonies of feral or un-owned cats live on campus property. While the exact numbers are not known, the population is estimated to be in the hundreds. There are reports of feral cats in multiple locations around campus, some examples include: Kyle Field football stadium, the campus power plant, Physical Plant parking lot, Sbisa Dining Center, Biological Sciences Building East, around campus dormitories, and in and around trash dumpsters.
Many of the feral cats at Texas A&M were originally owned pets of students and neighbors of the university. These well intentioned owners were probably not prepared for the many responsibilities of pet ownership, including the cost of food and supplies, veterinary care, and the time commitment. A growing feral cat population is the result of generations of breeding among the campus’ existing cat population.
Typically, cats are expected to have multiple litters of four to eight kittens per year. Many of these cats are not socialized or tame and can therefore not be placed in homes.
What is AFCAT?
The Aggie Feral Cat Alliance of Texas (AFCAT) is a volunteer group of students, staff, and faculty from the TAMU campus. AFCAT’s main goal is to work closely with the university in order to provide care and long-term management of feral cats on campus. In addition, AFCAT tries to decrease one potential source of feral cats – local strays – by providing educational information on the costs and commitment of responsible pet ownership.
The AFCAT program is modeled after Stanford University’s highly successful and humane effort to control and manage feral cat populations on their campus. Initially, a small-scale version of the AFCAT program was implemented at Texas A&M University’s dairy barns. This trial was effective at controlling the feral cat population and provided natural rodent management.
The AFCAT program has the following 5 key parts:
- Community education regarding stray overpopulation and responsibilities of pet ownership
- Humane capture of feral cats on campus, identification, testing for infectious diseases, vaccination, and spay/neuter
- Cats that are able to be socialized and tamed enter foster homes and can then be adopted out to forever homes through a careful screening process
- Cats that are not able to be socialized and tamed are re-released to be monitored and maintained at designated feeding stations
- AFCAT volunteers provide meals and observe these cats daily. For this reason, we ask that you do not feed the cats.
How you can help:
If you have information about stray cats on campus or are interested in becoming a campus cat feeder/caretaker, please contact us. If you are interested in adopting an Aggie feral cat, please email us for additional information.
Phone: (979) 845-2351
Mail: Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences TAMU 4458
College Station, TX 77843-4458
New community partnership:
Due to the cooperation received from campus volunteers, senior veterinary students, and a long list of supporters, the AFCAT program has been largely successful in controlling the number of cats on the A&M campus. However, the A&M campus is not the only home to feral cat colonies. The success of AFCAT sparked the interest of several Bryan/College Station community members who recognized the need for a feral cat management program in the Brazos County area. In order to promote the non-lethal control of feral cat populations in the Bryan/College Station area, these community members decided to form a similar organization called Brazos Feral Cat Allies.