The Baker Orange

Campus cat catchers control feline population

Story by Heidi Jo Hayden, Writer

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The stray cat population of Baldwin City seems to have skyrocketed over the past few years, and many students as well as staff and faculty members have noticed. Mass Media & Visual Arts Department Assistant Kathy Elliott has taken it upon herself to help keep the current feline population healthy and prevent it from growing.

Elliott has focused on the cats living behind the New Living Center, and students appreciate her efforts.

“It’s always interesting seeing the different cats hanging around the NLC,” freshman Camden Wheatley said. “But I’m glad someone is stepping up and trying to do something about the excessive number living back there.”

Elliott began this project last April.

“Originally there were just two litters we started taking care of,” she said. “Both of those litters were born last spring, and we made sure not to take the kittens from their mothers too soon.”

Elliott began taking the mother cats to the Humane Society of Greater Kansas City. There the cats were given the standard vaccinations. Once the kittens were old enough, Elliott would take them there as well.

Some of the kittens were spayed or neutered at that shelter and had their ears clipped so that later, when she took the kittens back to where she got them, Elliott would know which cats had already been spayed or neutered and she would not put them through another surgery.

With the help of her husband, Elliott also took the kittens to the Great Plains Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), a no-kill shelter.

“Before we took the kittens to the Great Plain SPCA, they stayed at our home for quite some time,” Mark Elliott said.

The Elliotts had foster families help take care of some of the kittens, because it was too difficult to bottle-feed all of them at the same time when they were younger.

The cats had their own room in the Elliotts’ home from the time when they were taken off the streets until they were released after being spayed or neutered. The kittens spent most of their time at the Elliotts’ home sleeping, but when they were awake, the Elliotts said the kittens enjoyed engaging in play fights and always hurried to be first to the food bowl at dinner.

“It was always funny to watch them run out of the back room in the house and fight each other for the food,” Mark Elliott said. “They would just pile around the bowl and there would be a few of them squished under the others.”

The Elliotts spent enough time with the kittens this summer to share fun and memorable experiences with them. Throughout the summer, they formed a strong bond with the kittens.

“I love animals,” Kathy Elliott said. “That is why I took this project on, and I cared deeply about all of them. It was hard to see the kittens go to their foster homes, but I did keep one of them.”

Elliott’s devotion to helping the cats of Baldwin City has not gone unnoticed on campus.

“I think it is a great idea to have the cats spayed and neutered,” sophomore Olivia Allen said. “I just hope people will give some of these cats a home off of the streets.”

Elliott said that 15 cats have been adopted so far.

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