Caring for Cats
Capstone project prompts student to take care of feral cats on campus
It’s about dinnertime and a large grey and white cat is anxiously waiting for Alex Brown to bring him some food.
Two calico cats are cautiously hovering nearby, but Jack seems determined to chase them away so he can get all the food.
Jack, as Brown calls him, wasn’t always so heavy, though. He was actually pretty thin when she first started feeding him.
Brown has been feeding Jack since September, when she became aware of the feral cat problem on campus as a result of doing her sociology capstone project.
As part of her research project on animal welfare advocates, Brown spent time making the rounds of Georgetown with Margaret Hollembeak, a volunteer with Georgetown Animal Outreach. Hollembeak feeds colonies of feral cats in Georgetown and also tries to get the cats spayed and neutered.
After Brown started feeding Jack, more cats started coming.
“I realized there were more than I thought,” Brown said. She is now feeding eight cats, several of which are kittens. She puts out several bowls each night so the other cats can eat without being disturbed by Jack.
With assistance from Hollembeak, Brown began trapping all the cats so they could be taken to the Austin Humane Society to be spayed and neutered.
Brown has been paying for the cat food out of her own savings and a new job as a nanny for a local family. She is trying to start a group that will feed the cats after she graduates in May. Several staff members volunteered to help her over Winter Break.
Brown also hopes to find a good home for Jack, who she said is “shy at first but very sweet most of the time.”
“Jack probably wouldn’t be good with other cats because he hogs the food, but if he was the only cat he would make a good pet,” she said.
Laura Hobgood-Oster, a religion professor who is active with local animal rescue efforts, said that while there have always been both “owned” and stray cats on campus as long as she has been here, Brown is the first student who has taken an interest in organizing a group to take care of them, get them all into one general location and make sure they are taken to a vet.
“It’s really neat to see,” she said.
Anyone interested in helping with the cats should contact Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org