Volunteers keep campus cats healthy,
reduce overpopulation problem
By Britney Munguia
Sophomore Danielle McNeil has found a passion for improving the lives of cats on campus.
McNeil is an active member of the Campus TNRM for Feral Cats Program, which humanely reduces the feral cat population that has been an ongoing issue on the Texas State University campus. TNRM is an acronym for Trap, Neuter, Return and Maintain.
“I actually stumbled into being a member of TNRM by moving into an apartment complex with a large feral cat population,” says McNeil. “I met Silke Ortiz, a very prominent member, who was feeding the colony. I quickly became absorbed with her work and decided I wanted to help with the effort as well.”
Previously, the Facilities Department would trap the cats, which would be destroyed at the San Marcos Animal Shelter. TNRM provides a humane way of dealing with the colonies, McNeil says.
Feral cats are trapped, neutered, ear-tipped, vaccinated, micro-chipped, returned to their home and maintained with food and a little “TLC.”
The idea behind TNRM originated from Stanford University ‘s program, the Stanford Cat Network.
“We trap at nights during feedings and try to trap just before the trip to Emancipet so as not to stress them out,” says McNeil.
Emancipet provides free and low-cost spay/neuter services, which reduces out-of-pocket costs for TNRM volunteers. TNRM receives no financial support from the university, but does accept donations through PayPal.
Adoptable cats and kittens are sent to the San Marcos Petsmart, where PAWS Animal Shelter handles the adoptions. Kittens are considered prime candidates for adoption. Unfortunately, many of the feral adult cats spend their entire lives outside, making them too antisocial to be re-homed.
“The re-homing process usually involves lots of word-of-mouth and the use of Craigslist,” says McNeil.
McNeil has re-homed six kittens and even kept one for herself.
TNRM is an all-volunteer organization composed of staff, students and faculty who donate time and effort. Since it was established in August of 2004, TNRM has helped more than 200 cats and has reduced the feral cat population on campus.
“I am often called crazy cat lady by a lot of my friends,” says McNeil. “But, truth be told, I only have one cat myself.”