Though the universityâ€™s official mascot is the Tiger, some less fierce four legged felines have become near and dear to the Trinity community. Some are friendly, letting students pet and play with them. Others are shy and quickly scamper off when someone walks their way. Regardless, the campus-famous Trinity cats (affectionately known as Trinicats) are giving Leeroy a run for his money when it comes to being top dog â€” or cat â€” in the hearts of students and faculty.
The Trinicats first appeared on campus twelve years ago. University staff was constantly having to turn the cats over to animal shelters, and it seemed that as soon as one was gone, another would appear. As an alternative to consistently leaving the fate of the cats up to the shelters, Trinity staff looked into and eventually adopted the Trap-Never-Return method, which was first established by faculty at Texas A&M.
The Trap-Never-Return strategy involves trapping the cats and having them neutered so that they will not be able to reproduce. Eventually, the cats are returned to be fed and cared for by the members of an organization or school. Upon seeing the success that Texas A&M and Stanford University had Â dealing with their stray cat situations in this way, Mindy Morales, Cad Technician and one of the Cat Allianceâ€™s founding members began implementing the strategy at Trinity. Â By having the stray cats neutered and returned to campus, Trinity aims to care for these furry friends in a healthy, humane way.
Initially a separate non-profit organization run by faculty and staff, the Cat Alliance began in an effort to take care of the cats.
â€œFor a while, we were this cool, underground club that eventually became popular,â€ Morales said.
At first, the idea was not welcomed by a receptive student body. Today that attitude has changed and the cats are loved by many. Students also are now part of the Cat Alliance. Morales hopes that even students who are not cat-lovers can appreciate the work the Cat Alliance does and the positive impact they have had on campus.
â€œOver the years, there has been an immense amount of appreciation and support of the student body in their relationship with the Trinicats, and we now have more volunteers than we can give out shifts at a time throughout the year,â€ Morales said. â€œEven cat haters should love us. The cats arenâ€™t sick, they are healthy and displaying positive emotions around the campus.â€
Students in the Cat Alliance take turns feeding cats at different stations around campus.
â€œWe couldnâ€™t do this without students. We have ten feeding stations, and the cats are fed seven days a week, including holidays and summer. The Cat Alliance is a labor of love that is scientifically based,â€ Morales said.
For some students, taking care of the cats brings them a feeling of home while theyâ€™re away from home.
â€œI knew I would miss my cat back home, and I joined Cat Alliance because I realized that this would help me with that loss,â€ said first-year Catherine Worley. â€œI first cats I fed were Fiona and Flora at Marrs McLean and they were both very friendly and full of energy from the moment I met them. To be a part of a club that takes pride in providing a humane and healthy way of having the cats live on campus is very rewarding.
Over the last four years, the cat population at Trinity has stabilized and the campus is now home to twenty two cats. From time to time, the Cat Alliance sees cats pass away, which is a sad occasion, but they are excited when new cats that wander on to campus and find a home at Trinity.