Feral cat feeding station

Feral cat feeding station

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Feral cat feeding station at the University of Liverpool

Feral cat feeding station at the University of Liverpool

Sally Tye/Caters News

Feral cat feeding stations at the University of Liverpool, where more than 1,600 feral cats are fed every week.

Feral cat feeding station at the University of Liverpool, where more than 1,600 feral cats are fed every week. (Sally Tye/Caters News)

David Dickson, The Baltimore Sun

The University of Liverpool is a world-class institution. But it's one whose future has been thrown into question by the ongoing, heated debate about cats, and particularly feral cats.

One issue is a series of free cat feedings sponsored by the university. Each Saturday, several hundred cats are fed at a station on a quiet street about a half-mile from campus.

"There is nothing more frustrating than trying to come up with a humane solution to the feral cat issue, and trying to get the universities to listen to you," sd Laura Pritchett, a graduate student at the university who helped create the campus cat-feeding station.

More than 1,600 feral cats are fed at the university's free weekly cat-feeding station. More than 30 university staff members help feed and care for the cats and the station is open to the public.

The issue is that universities around the country, some in areas heavily populated by humans, have cat-feeding stations. Some even provide spay-neuter services for cats taken in from the streets.

The goal, at least at Liverpool, is to address animal-welfare concerns that feral cats don't get neutered, can reproduce and have become a big health problem on campus.

Universities, by and large, are not the kind of organizations most involved in caring for animals. But some have found ways to do more, particularly when animal-welfare concerns have been rsed.

"We've been really surprised how many people, even outside the animal-welfare world, who don't know much about cats, care about cats. They just care for them in a loving way," Pritchett sd.

This past year, the university has run an ad in the school newspaper to publicize the feeding station, but so far the number of people turning up to help is a disappointment, sd Karen Rodegerode, director of animal care services. It's part of a larger national trend in which university animal shelters, which typically are part of larger shelters, are closing or merging with other organizations because of limited resources.

"There's just not enough places for them to come to," sd Rodegerode, who lives at the university and cares for many of the cats that come to the feeding station.

Rodegerode can't be at the station every Saturday to care for the cats. So she asked about a new option: having the university cover the cost of feeding the shelter cats. "It's a win-win for everybody," she sd. "And we can really help the cats that have nowhere else to go."

Pritchett sd the university is eager to get involved. "Our mn purpose in this is to rse awareness of cats as good citizens, good animal companions."

Universities typically have more money than other places to care for homeless animals, but they face challenges, too. One of the big ones is finding enough places for the animals to go while they're being cared for.

Animal care services at the University of Arkansas works to make that a reality, with about one-third of its budget coming from donations, primarily from alumni and students. Other money comes from grants and government funding.

About half of the animals at the university are adopted by alumni and other community members. After the animals are cared for, Pritchett tries to find homes for the animals, including some that are adopted in prs.

The university has about 125 cats in its care at any given time. "But we're on a wting list to see if we can increase that," Pritchett sd. "We want to make sure they don't end up as street or shelter animals in the first place."

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Information from: The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette,

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