Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Caring for Cats on Campus

It was love at first sight for Cathy Kost and David Eisenberg. The three feral kittens had appeared outside their offices at Evergreen Valley College (EVC) seemingly out of nowhere. The kittens looked vulnerable, in desperate need of some tender loving care. Cathy and David immediately adopted the kittens and named them Misha, Jasper and Rocket. That was ten years ago.

Now Cathy and David look after a colony of a dozen feral cats on the Evergreen campus. Over the years, the two long-term EVC employees gave away several cats for adoption, mostly to faculty and students.

They unfailingly feed the cats every day at 7:30 AM and at noon. “As soon as they hear my truck coming down the hill.” says Cathy, an administrative assistant in the Language Arts department, “my feline charges line up, meowing excitedly for their first meal of the day.”
She and David, a professor in the Computer Instructional Technology department, come to the campus every weekend as well. “We can’t let them go hungry on Saturdays and Sundays!” They have been buying bulk cat food out of their own pockets for a decade now.

“They are feral but they are also tame,” says David. “Cathy and I can pet them but most other people cannot. They know us as family.”

The cats rest and sleep in empty spaces under the buildings and in the hills around the campus. “They obviously know how to take care of themselves,” says Cathy, “because when I come every morning, they are fresh and ready for the day!” Several cat food bowls line the side of a building that has been cleared of vegetation just for the cats.

Cathy and David take under their wings any cat that people dump in the campus. A custodian once brought over a cat he found in a garbage can. David has rescued several abandoned kittens from in front of the school gym and some from outside the campus as well. The two employees have also trapped a few of the cats.

They also neuter the cats. Sometimes they put a few up for adoption on Craigslist and give them away only after being convinced that the potential owners are genuine cat-lovers who will give them a safe and nice home. They once gave a cat to a teacher’s sister who was battling cancer and who needed to care for a living while she underwent treatments.

“The cats are good for the campus,” says Cathy. “Right now, a company called Sunpower is installing solar panels in the surrounding fields. When they first dug up the ground, rats, mice and gophers invaded the campus. Were it not for the cats, we would have had rodents all over the place, in classrooms, offices, libraries, just about everywhere. These cats can hunt real well. Thanks to them, we have a rodent-free campus!”

It is said that the best way to express gratitude for life is by selflessly caring for other living beings. Cathy and David have been caring for feral and abandoned cats at the EVC campus for a decade now. They do it quietly and with love, in spite of their busy schedules. If you are feeling down, if it seems that the whole world is turning against you and you are about to give up your faith in humanity, come and see Cathy and David feeding some happy cats.

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