About seven years ago, as Theresa Martin walked from the Temple stop of the Regional Rail, she noticed a stray cat in need of food and shelter – she quickly nurtured it.
Martin, a student services specialist and coordinator for the College of Engineering, noticed the multiplying number of cats roaming around Main Campus. She said she tried to care for the cats as much as possible, but it quickly became obvious that it was too much for her to handle alone.
“I always loved animals,” Martin said. “After seeing this cat outside, I started carrying food. Then it turned into a couple of cats, then a lot. Luckily, a friend of mine started helping out, too.”
Martin and her friend knew the stray cats around campus were an issue. Aside from their need of nourishment and a safe place to live, the population can breed without limit and increase the problem. Martin created a group on Facebook to reach out to Temple community, asking others to keep a look out for cats and help however possible.
The group, called ‘Temple Cats,” has almost 400 members, and Martin hopes it will continue to grow to help accomplish their goals.
Some of the members are faculty, such as manager of finance for general accounting Thomas Brauner, who said he has also fed cats on Main Campus.
Though feeding the cats may sound like a positive thing for the strays, the issue remains that the cats live on the street, as Brauner’s experience with one cat made clear to him.
“There was one cat who was very scared of people,” Brauner said. “Then one day he changed – he became friendlier and letting us touch him. He got to the point where we thought he would be adoptable. So we lined up a foster home for him and we were eventually able to trap him. But sadly, we were too late. He had a massive and deep infected wound and was in worse shape than he initially appeared. It’s sad, but at least he didn’t die alone on the cold streets. He got to go with dignity, with a loving rescuer by his side.”
One of the goals of Martin’s open Facebook group is to “get a better idea of how many cats there are in the entire area,” according to the page’s description. She hopes this will help to properly address the stray cat population. In most situations with the cats, Martin’s goal is to trap them and get them off the streets.
A major reason for trapping is to bring strays to a vet to get necessary shots and to spay or neuter the animal. This process is recommended by animal shelters and vets.
Surgery manager Adam Corbett from the SPCA is one animal caregiver who recommends trapping the cats in order to address the exponentially increasing number.
“When the trapped cats are brought here, they get vaccinated, spayed and neutered,” Corbett said. “That prevents them from getting diseases and producing more kittens, which means less feral cats if we release them back outside. Spaying and neutering also changes their behavior, which keeps them out of trouble, such as fighting with other species or other cats.”
Martin said she has taken a few cats to get spayed or neutered and vaccinated at the Girard Veterinary Clinic at 2806 W. Girard Ave. Unfortunately, she said, one of those trips was to help a seriously injured cat.
“There was this cat that had a tipped ear, meaning it had been trapped already and released back outside, but it was [injured] and bleeding,” Martin said. “It was very leery and ran from us a lot. Three friends and I came to the school for a couple of days at 4:30 a.m. to try to catch her. We caught her and took her to Girard [Veterinary Clinic], finding out she had a cancer tumor.”
Both the Girard Veterinary Clinic and the SPCA offer low-cost services for stray animals that need to be spayed or neutered. Jennifer, a receptionist at the clinic, said there are ways for these processes to cost less for frequent animal rescuers like Martin.
“Animal rescuers receive a certificate each time they trap and bring an animal here,” she said. “After so many times, the cost will range from $10 or less, sometimes free.”
Martin said she hopes students and faculty alike will use the “Temple Cats” Facebook group to extend the network of people helping the stray population.
“Helping animals and caring for them is the biggest [goal],” Martin said. “I hope to have more people aware and to help the cats.”
Karlina Jones can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.