Trinity is not just a place for students to call home when they’re attending college; the campus is also the source of shelter for several cats on campus. Fondly known as ‘Trinicats’, these felines are adored by many students and staff members who approach them. Members of the Cat Alliance are responsible for caring for these animals on a regular basis by providing food, water and shelter. They also use the cats as opportunities to publicize information pertinent to issues on campus.

The Cat Alliance and their feline friends are making an important statement this political season with the release of their fall fundraising T-shirts. The shirts, which ask voters to “let their voice be purred” by voting DemoCAT or RepubliCAT, offers a non-human alternative for voters dissatisfied with the current nominees: the CAT party.

First-year business major and cat enthusiast Austin Bratton joined the Cat Alliance; he has found that the organization has helped him get involved on campus in his first semester at Trinity.

“I wanted to find a club to be a part of and The Cat Alliance was one of the most attractive options to me. I love animals, and I miss my pets at home too,” Bratton said.

Bratton feels personally responsible to take care of the cats since he shares campus with them, and he was thrilled by the introduction of the black-and-white Felix as the new CAT Party candidate, especially because he is one of the Murchison feeders. Felix is well-known on campus, which is why Cat Alliance chose him to be featured on the CAT shirt.

“I think it’s awesome because [Felix] lays out in front of Murchison all the time so everyone sees him and pets him when they’re walking by,” Bratton said.

The importance of politics especially surges during these election years; this is particuarly true for Bratton, as it will be his first opportunity to legally vote for one of the  presidential candidates.

“I will probably be voting DemoCAT, but I feel like I’m still  pretty ignorant of the subject of politics as of now. I think need to really brush up more on my politics before I commit,” Bratton said.

Mindy Morales helped lead and charter the Cat Alliance, which is not actually a university-run organization.

“The Cat Alliance is a separate 501c3 that we established a nonprofit organization for. We don’t receive any money from the university at all — everything that we do is done through fundraising,” Morales said.

Morales helped pioneer a safer and more ethical option to euthanizing cats called the trap-neuter-return program (TNR), which uses a scientific methodology to control feral cat populations in domestic areas.

“The cats are trapped, spayed or neutered, and then returned and made sure they are fed and healthy. It’s a thing, it’s not a bunch of crazy ladies feeding cats,” Morales said.

As both of the major party candidates have record low approval ratings, Morales felt that the introduction of a feline nominee would help add a humorous element to the unexpected events of the election so far.

“Felix would probably be an independent cat because he’s always been so independent,” Morales said, speaking on Felix’s particular political leanings.

The main focus of the advertising campaign is ultimately to encourage students to vote in this election, regardless of their affiliation.

“Nothing will ever change if people don’t participate in the process. One of the reasons our political process is in such turmoil is because so many people don’t vote or are what I call ‘lazy voters:’ they go out and choose one person because they’re one party or another without knowing what they really stand for or base decisions off of an ad on television or something on the internet. If we don’t become more involved, then the system is going to fall apart,” Morales said.

Shirts like those of the Cat Alliance both illicit humor and allow for a unique way to make a political statement; this allows those who are voting for the first time to proceed with the election process in a low-pressure way.

“By choosing either a DemoCAT or a RepubliCAT shirt, they can hint at their true political ‘a-feline-ation’ in a non-threatening way. Or — with either version of the shirt — they can simply make the statement that they think a cat, rather than a human, would be the best choice for leader of our country. The choice is theirs to make,” said Vee DuBose, designer and current president of Cat Alliance.

DuBose designs the CAT fundraiser shirts each year. In an attempt to stop the increasing number of feral cats on campus, DuBose actually helped found the organization in 2004 with Morales. Felix, while a very qualified nominee, is not the CAT Party’s first to be featured as the face of the CAT Party.

“In 2008, another controversial election year, campus cat Cheeky topped the CAT ticket. After a tight race, at least here on campus, Cheeky was ultimately defeated by current president, Barack Obama. This is an important election, but we in the Cat Alliance aren’t trying to make a serious statement by endorsing any of the human candidates,” DuBose said.  

Like Morales, DuBose also places a high priority on voting in these elections.

“Do your best to get yourself informed, and even if you don’t find any one candidate to be perfect, make a choice and vote for someone. Take advantage of your voting privilege and let your voice be heard in this election,” DuBose said.

The Cat Alliance has helped shed light on the important process of voting, and part of that process is making informed decisions. Voting guides like the nonpartisan one released by the League of Women Voters help provide a better understanding of the platforms of dozens of state, local and national politicians. This November, make sure to take part in this election cycle and buy a T-shirt from the Cat Alliance.

More information on the safest approaches to handling cats on campus can be found on Trinity’s website. Those interested in learning more about the Cat Alliance are encouraged to reach out to Mindy Morales for more information.