Frogs and cats are coming together throughout the 109 area in an unexpected way through the FACT organization.
“FACT is Frogs and Cats Together,” Cari Alexander, TCU’s music and media librarian, said. “It’s a group dedicated to the humane care of the feral cat population on TCU campus which includes the philosophy of trap-neuter-return or TNR.”
Trap-neuter-return, an idea originated in England in the 1990s, is a process when feral cats are trapped, neutered or spayed, and then the cats get their ears “tipped,” Alexander said. Tipping involves clipping the top of the cat’s ear as a sign that the animals have been neutered or spayed. This is done to avoid re-trapping cats that have already been fixed. Afterward, the cats are released back into their original trapping location where they gather into colonies.
“The cats gather into colonies and we manage them through proper diet, clean water and other care as the cats allow,” Alexander said. “By gathering our cats into colonies on campus and fixing them, we decrease their tendencies to roam, fight, get into trash, spray or breed more of themselves.”
Alexander originally became involved with FACT when she began working as the trapping coordinator at the University of North Texas. After coming to TCU in 2003, Alexander began practicing trap-neuter-return on and around the TCU campus. Seven years later, the organization has expanded to help several dozen feral cats to about 20 on campus.
The organization has two set goals for the program, Alexander said. The first is to keep the feral population under control and the second is to try to educate the TCU community about responsible pet ownership.
FACT is not an official TCU organization, but is comprised of about six TCU staff members.
“We’re staff-based and we have to be because students are too transient,” Alexander said. “This group has to be very solid and stable to keep the problem under control. We take these little felines lives very seriously, so we’re here regardless of holidays, summer vacation, weather issues, whatever.”
Although the cats are considered to be feral, they are not dangerous or unhealthy. They are happy with their outdoor lives.
“We’re working to change the ordinance to make feral care legal,” Alexander said. “Right now we are a "pilot project" and gathering feral caregivers around the area together so we can do this more effectively. When it comes up for public hearings and council vote next year, we would really like to have citizen support.”
“The best thing that [people in the surrounding neighborhoods] can do now – and they don’t have to become officially involved – is to observe their surroundings,” Alexander said. “We need to know where [feral cats] are being seen and a description so we know if new cats are appearing on campus that we need to fix. People can help us by spreading the word that trap-neuter-return works and support our efforts to become an official entity on campus.”
FACT is always looking for community support and assistance. 109ers can show their support by contacting their city councilperson.
Those interested in getting involved with FACT or those looking for more information may contact Cari Alexander at firstname.lastname@example.org.