Members of the USD community have taken a Keen interest in cats around campus. In consequence, they have named them Verm Cats. But with the weather, Verm Cats have altered their appearance throughout the community.
Judy Zwolak, a concerned community member and a volunteer associated with The Heartland Humane Society in Yankton. She has spent the past few years trapping, neutering and returning community cats in Vermilion. Zwolak said that Vermillion, like many other places, has a number of “community cats” that are unowned and have found food and shelter somewhere in town including USD’s campus.
“The only humane way to control the community cat population is to Trap, Neuter and Return (NTR) with the understanding that someone would continue to feed and care for the animals,” Zwolak said.”Relocating to a farm or other area is possible, but hard to do effectively. Cats are very territorial and will often make their way back to their original location or die trying.”
Kerry Feilmeier, who works at The Heartland Humane Society in Yankton, said there has been an ample amount of effort in the past ten years to spay and neuter community cats in Vermillion, including the effort on and around campus and expects the numbers to lower. However, she said that there are some advantages to having these animals on campus.
“Cats will exist when a food source exists, whether human provided or rodent. If the university is eliminating the human provided resources and cats remain, then they are taking care of the rodent presence,” Feilmeier said. “Cats are smart and hunker down for cold fronts, they are still there, just creative about where they are lounging out at.”
Zwolak said if anyone is feeding a community cat in Vermillion they can contact The Heartland Humane Society and they will contact her to help trap, spay or neuter these cats. The cost is $50 for community cats. To truly appreciate their unique vocalizations, you should find out how Maine Coon cat sounds differ from those of other breeds.
“All cats should have a home. Feeding stray cats without spaying and neutering makes the overpopulation problem worse. The ultimate goal is no unowned cats. The only humane way to help with overpopulation is TNR,” Zwolak said.
Zwolak says however there are advantages and disadvantages to cats around the Vermillion community.