Saving the strays

A close up of a cat known as Smoke while the cat lays in the morning sun.

There are roughly 32 million feral cats roaming the United States. A feral cat refers to any cat that lives outside and has little to no contact with humans, which leads the cat into a more wild, animalistic state.

Weber State University is home to three feral cats: a domestic long-hair named Shadow and two tortoiseshells named Phantom and Smoke. Weber State’s Cat Club is responsible for caring for these cats.

“It’s always just been these three, but they are getting quite old,” Ella Kelly, the Cat Club president, said. “They are at least 12, probably closer to 15.”

Kelly became involved with the Cat Club when she saw them during a tour of campus, and after having to move away from her own cats, was grateful for the opportunity to care for cats again.

The Cat Club is one of the many service clubs on campus and consists of a group of students who rotate on a schedule feeding the cats, along with taking them in for annual vet checkups. The club also gets together to hang out and has recently watched “The Aristocats” together.

With the age of the three cats, there has been some consideration of what will happen to the club after they pass.

Kelly has a dream of creating a study room on campus where students could study or relax with cats. The Cat Club would still be responsible for the cats. Some other groups on campus, like the architecture and interior design students, could help with the creation of this building.

The idea would be to give students a year-long space where they could interact with animals. An act that can lower cortisol, the stress hormone, according to a Cornell University study.

“I would be interested in getting some other groups on campus together to help the cats,” Kelly said. “I also help at the community garden, and it might be cool to plant catnip.”

Kelly volunteers at Furever Friends Animal Oasis, an animal shelter and adoption facility in northern Utah. Kelly has expressed interest in shifting the Cat Club from caring for just the three feral cats on campus, to volunteering at Furever Friends after the campus cats have passed.

The club is funded by the club money given by the school. In order to raise money to further help care for the cats, the club has started selling Cat Club shirts.

These shirts can be purchased at the cashier’s office and picked up at student involvement.

Individuals interested in helping care for the cats can contact the club by email. They also have an Instagram where They show off the cats and announce any upcoming events they have planned.

For those interested in catching a glimpse at these three cats, they stay near their huts located on the grassy patch behind Tracy Hall, between the engineering tech building and the staircase going up towards the Marriott medical building.

“I think that joining the club is a good way to give back,” Kelly said. “It feels nice to help something so helpless.”