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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Nonprofits strive to house local feral cats

An issue has been scratching at Bryan-College Station for years – controlling the feral animal population.
With shelter space becoming increasingly limited and stray animals being euthanized to compensate, a number of organizations in the area are doing what they can to keep feral animals out of the shelters.
Amy Wells, Brazos Pets Alive operations director, said she and the other members of the nonprofit strive to make the community a no-kill zone and to ensure that 90 percent of the animals that enter shelters make it into a loving home.
“We always know there are going to be some cases that we can’t help, whether it’s for aggression or for serious medical issues, but our goal is to get those 90 percent into homes,” Wells said. “And for our organization, we don’t have a shelter location, we don’t have a location at all – we are all foster-based. So our ability to save animals is all based on people opening their homes to us.”
BPA works with area shelters to get animals out of the shelter and into foster care as soon as possible. Wells said if a foster cannot be found for an animal, then that animal cannot be put into the program and will remain in the shelter with the chance of being put down.
“We try to intervene when we can to try to prevent animals from going into the shelters,” Wells said. “It’s really people contact us and say, ‘Hey, I’m open to fostering.’ They tell us what kind of animal they’d like to foster, and our organization does both cats and dogs. We’ve even had a rabbit in our program that got adopted.”
BPA focuses on high-risk animals – kittens and puppies, injured animals and adult cats with upper respiratory infections or colds.
Wells said people are often wary of fostering newborn kittens and their mothers because of the time commitment and effort they believe is involved.
“Nursing moms right now are our biggest need and a lot of people think they’re a lot of work – they’re really not,” Wells said. “All you need is a bathroom or a spare room and the mama does all the work. You feed mama and mama feeds the kittens and takes care of them.”
Shelby Stephens, sophomore biology major, is fostering a cat and said it is a perfect match for her as a student.
“Honestly, as far as cats go, they’re kind of the perfect college pet because they really don’t require that much commitment as much as a dog would,” Stephens said. “With cats you pretty much just have to lay out everything and maybe feed them two or three times a day. And of course they need the love and affection that you give them when you’re home, but it’s really based on your schedule.”
Stephens said her commitment to her foster cat, Simon, stems from the hope she has for him to one day have a permanent, loving home.
“I’m pretty attached to him but I also have in mind that in the future he’s going to have a family that’s going to be there all the time for him and just shower him in love and toys and everything and that’s all I’d ever want,” Stephens said. “So that’s what drives me to keep doing it, to just keep that in my mind.”
The Aggie Feral Cat Alliance of Texas is a student-run organization that manages feral colonies on campus and distributes some stray animals on campus to people willing to foster, like Stephens.
Stephanie Freeman, student coordinator of AFCAT, said after determining that the animals brought in do not already belong to someone else, AFCAT begins its process.
“We do the vaccination, we microchip and then the flea prevention. And of course we do the spay and neuter,” Freeman said. “Once we’re done with the spay and neuter, we give them a couple of days to recuperate and recover, and then we send them back out to wherever we find them.”
Freeman said the kittens found on campus become good candidates for foster care and are socialized as soon as they enter AFCAT care.
“We try to shower them with love and affection once they get here because that’s a lot easier to get them a little bit more domesticated in that way because if mama’s wild, then they’re going to be a little wild,” Freeman said. “So some take a little longer than others, but for the most part within the first day we have our kittens purring.”
For individuals who have come across a lost pet, Wells said they can post photos of the animals on the Brazos Lost and Found Pet Facebook page to give the pet’s owners a chance to find them and avoid putting the lost animal through the shelter system.
“If they can keep it for three days just to give people a chance to find their animal, that makes a huge difference,” Wells said.

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