With Stan State’s campus closure, the community cat-lovers may be wondering how the campus cats have been fairing. 

Stan State has been eerily quiet this semester – no bustle of activity, no wave of students racing from class to class, and for the cats on campus, very few visitors.  Here is the latest update from AdvoCATS, the campus organization that cares for our many feline residents, the current number being around 13-20 cats.

In case the AdvoCATS are new to you, here is some background info provided by Mami Trussel, the coordinator of AdvoCATS as well as the administrative support coordinator for strategy planning and enrollment management innovation in the Enrollment Services at Stan State: In January of 2016, The Campus Cat Management and Care Committee was formed with the support of a former University administrator and animal lover. What was initially a committee dedicated to managing the campus cat population and sharing information and updates about them, gave rise to a separate, more active group.  They provided loving care, feeding, financial support and advocacy for the campus cats and became the inception of the AdvoCATS. After about 15 years of care via a group or an individual, the official AdvoCATS group was established.

Trussell says that the status quo has been maintained with the cats despite the pandemic stating, “COVID-19 has not changed our routines for their needs, daily feedings, veterinary and tender loving care, etc.” 

Of course, the absence of students on campus has presented a notable lack of attention for the cats. “Tony, one of our most social cats, is missing the tons of attention he used to enjoy when our campus was open for classes,” Trussell says, adding, “We do our best to give him lots of extra love. It is very sweet to see students come to campus to visit with Tony, they are missing the cats and he misses them.”

The campus cats are beloved by, and beneficial to, students and faculty alike. They provide a much-needed calming presence amidst the hustle and bustle of a school semester. Rachel Grimshaw, a professor of 11 years in the English Department says, “I’ve always found the presence of the cats on campus to be a comfort. Countless times, I’ve sat on a bench or in the grass petting one. I think a lot of people probably don’t pay the cats much mind or spend any time with them, but I know there are a ton of people who know the cats and love them. I do think having them on campus affords opportunities to de-stress.”

Mariposa Cox (senior, Chemistry) conveys her love for the campus cats, stating, “The cats are so awesome! I first found out about them my freshman year when someone was petting them, but I didn’t talk to anyone until I bought a pen during a fundraiser. I always felt so much less stress after petting Tony and Daisy...such a nice opportunity to be able to get some cat love and de-stress before tests.”

Stephanie LeQuia (junior, Child Development and Psychology) found out about the AdvoCATS immediately after her first visit to campus, when she went home and researched all of the organizations on campus.  LeQuia empathizes with everyone that is missing out on seeing the campus cats, “Sometimes I think about the people living at home during COVID that don’t have pets.” LeQuia says, “I think the campus cats helped a lot of people and it’s too bad not everyone has pets at home.”

Before the life-altering outbreak of COVID, this year was already a difficult year for the AdvoCATS with the loss of Daisy. Daisy and Tony have possibly been the two most recognizable and friendliest cats on campus, having taken up residence outside of the Mary Stuart Rogers Educational Services Gateway Building. Daisy was tragically attacked and killed by two dogs on February 27 of this year.

Not long after the widely mourned loss of Daisy, another campus cat by the name of Hope went missing in March. Hope has sadly not been recovered. The rest of the campus cats are still receiving optimal care, though. In the midst of sadness there are always blessings to be found. 

Anyone can lend a helping hand to the campus cats. Volunteers are welcomed by the AdvoCATS. They can feed and protect the cats, help with special projects, outreach, fundraising, and donate if possible. The AdvoCATS is self-funded, so any donations (e.g. monetary, gift cards, food, bowls, shelters, bedding, veterinary care gift cards) are encouraged.  Support for the AdvoCATS is an essential part of their success on campus.

Many students may be enjoying time with their own pets at home presently, but rest assured that your animal fix will certainly not dissipate once in-person learning resumes.  Just like everyone else, the campus cats are waiting for life to return to normal, likely fitting in some extra cat naps in the meantime!

DISCLAIMER: The campus cats receive tremendous care from the AdvoCATS, but that is not meant to be interpreted as any kind of solicitation for additional cats being brought to campus.  Integrating new cats on campus can be a very complicated process, and at times detrimental for all cats involved.  Please practice responsible pet parenting!

  You can follow the AdvoCATS on Instagram at @Advocats_csustan and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/advocats.csustan for updates.

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