During the Christmas Break of 1994 the Environmental Health and Safety Department at The University of Texas at Austin contracted a pest control company to trap and remove feral (undomesticated/wild) cats from campus. Only a few faculty members were informed of the plan. Over a two-week period 14 cats were trapped and transported to the city pound where they were deemed unadoptable and euthanized.
When faculty, staff and students returned from the Christmas holidays word of the tragic event leaked out and spread quickly over UT's electronic bulletin boards. Many people voiced their outrage over the University's inhumane extermination practice (later referred to as "The Great Cat Round-Up of 1994"). It was soon discovered that Miss Priss, a feral campus cat who had previously been caught, neutered and returned back around the W. C. Hogg Building by a staff member and fed every day for eight years, was listed among the missing.
Articles regarding the incident soon appeared in The Austin-American Statesman and the UT student newspaper, The Daily Texan. The administration and Environmental Health and Safety responded by stating the reason for their action dealt with the liability aspects of the wild cats. Another concern was that feeding by employees and students not only caused other undesirables such as rats, mice, and raccoons but that they were also receiving complaints regarding the stench of cat food and urine odors around particular buildings.
On February 1, 1995, the entire University community was invited to attend a special "cat" meeting called by Jan Shrode (UT staff member), Beveral Williams (UT staff member and Austin Animal Advisory Commission member), and Karen Medicus, Executive Director of the Austin Humane Society/SPCA. The purpose of the meeting was to approach the administration with two items; (1) to urge them to immediately stop their trap and kill policy, and (2) to suggest a more humane alternative for controlling the population of feral campus cats. We offered to organize a group of volunteers who would assume the responsibility of the cats and implement a non-lethal population control and management program commonly referred to as "TNRM" (trap/neuter/return/maintain)".
The Austin Humane Society/SPCA volunteered to assist The Coalition. They supplied vital information regarding feral cat population control programs and offered to accept our socialized kittens and place them up for adoption at their no-kill facility.
At that time, identical programs had been in place on other college campuses and were extremely successful at controlling the number of feral cats which proved that workable, viable alternatives to extermination did exist.
UT's President Berdahl consented and on April 20, 1995 The Campus Cat Coalition was established on the UT-Austin campus.
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