While doing some teaching for Pacific New Media at the University of Hawai’i I was staying at Lincoln Hall on campus.
The campus itself is delightful: it contains numerous diverse buildings, large and small, and trees and bushes galore. There are wide open pathways, huge spreading trees, and most surprising of all, abundant cats lazing in the sun or feeding at food stations scattered round about. Oh, and in spite of the cats, birds, many quite tame.
While I was delighted to see cats on campus, apparently the whole thing is quite controversial. Some want the cats exterminated, while others feed them:
A story last year in Ka Leo, the Manoa campus newspaper, described the cat colonies as “a UH community mainstay”.
David Karl, an oceanography professor, feeds the cats regularly on campus.
“If nobody fed them, they would be in the garbage cans, they would be over at Paradise Palms [cafe]. … They would be a huge problem,” Karl said. “And if UH could exterminate all these cats, there would be rats all over the place.”
These are wild cats — some have been abandoned by locals, others arrive from nearby neighbourhoods.
While many places try to deal with feral cat problems by killing the cats, here they’re working on control by neutering, in a programme called TNR:
Trap/neuter/return, commonly referred to as “TNR,” is the only method proven to be humane and effective at controlling feral cat population growth. Using this technique, all the feral cats in a colony are trapped, neutered and then returned to their territory where caretakers provide them with regular food and shelter. Young kittens who can still be socialized, as well as friendly adults, are placed in foster care and eventually adopted out to good homes.
[Via : Neighborhood Cats | What is TNR?.]
The cats were very timid — I had problems catching a decent photo of any of them. They’d run off and hide as soon as I came near. That was quite a contrast with the birds who would often be almost underfoot.
My photos above have been heavily photoshopped. The smallest doesn’t bear enlarging as it was actually out of focus. 1] There were half a dozen cats being fed by a kind staff member. My arrival scared several away. 2] I spotted food and water bowls below one building — with a cat waiting nearby. 3] You see cats all over — this one was lurking on a roof, in amongst some shrubbery.