A new wave of feline vagabonds has crashed on campus, landing one student in the hospital. Lindsey Sirianni, a sophomore psychology major, was bitten by a stray kitten after trying to pick it up.
“I saw the kittens on the side of the road between Finch and Nease and I thought they were cute, so naturally I went to pet them,” Sirianni said in an email. “They seemed a little scared but not vicious. I then tried to pick one up, and it did not like that, so it hissed and bit me. So basically it was totally my fault.”
Sirianni didn’t think much more of the incident until she told her friends, who suggested she go to the ER, where she received several rabies shots.
“The shots were pretty painful and my muscles bruised a lot and were swollen from all of the injected liquid. After the initial shots, I had to go back three more times for more shots and still have one visit left,” she said.
Sirianni couldn’t participate in her PE course because of the bruising, soreness, fatigue, and dizziness associated with the treatment. Now she keeps her distance.
“So basically I know the cats are really cute and all, but don’t try to pick them up,” Sirianni said.
Alicia Wong, a senior exercise science major and cat adoption counselor for Joanie and Suzie’s Cat Adoption, also has experience dealing with the strays around campus. Last fall, Wong took four kittens on campus to a volunteer caretaker.
“They were found in the bushes when you drive from Nease to Finch,” Wong said in an email, “Two other people had initially found the kittens and were trying to figure out what to do with them. I offered to take them because I so happened to be on my way to the adoption center.”
Kathy Conner, PLNU’s horticulture and grounds manager, said how exactly the cats became residents at PLNU is a mystery.
“We don’t know exactly [where they came from],” said Conner, “There are lots of canyons around campus that they may be living in.”
According to Conner, the cats weren’t a problem until a couple years ago, but taking the strays to be neutered and spayed resulted in much lower populations in the area. The population spikes after the feral cats have had litters in the spring and summer, but returns to normal over the course of the year.
“And that’s through attrition [a gradual reduction of strength], whether it’s the health of the cat, or the predatory birds. I think we also have a coyote population in the area,” Conner said.
If students do see the cats around campus, they are asked to call the Physical Plant.
“If one does start hanging around, call [the Physical Plant] and we can work with our pest control company to set up some humane traps and get them out of here,” said Conner.
Conner warns against interacting and keeping the cats as pets.
“They are wild animals,” Conner said. “We do not want to encourage students keeping cats in the dorms.”