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Stanford Report, June 2, 1999

Cat Network marks 10 years of protecting stray animals

BY LARAMIE TREVIÑO

It's been a purrfect decade for the abandoned and stray cats on the Farm.

Since 1989, when the volunteer-driven Stanford Cat Network organized and took on the daunting role of caring for the resident feline population on campus, the spay/neutering program has evolved into an endeavor that includes other animals left behind.

"We're really concerned about all the animal life on campus -- not just cats," said Carole Hyde, one of the network's founders. A core group of about 60 persons, most of them university staff, plus some faculty, students and community members, carry out the mission of promoting awareness of the responsible care and treatment of animals.


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The network, funded completely by donations, concerns itself primarily with:

A help line is available at (650) 566-8287 and a website, www.stanford.edu/group/CATNET.

Through an arrangement with the university, the network formed when the administration announced plans to trap the feral cat population on campus -- estimated at about 500 -- and ship them to the humane society.

Now, advice on pet sitters, reports of lost dogs and parakeets are all part of a volunteer's day.

When a tame cat is found, the network arranges for its board and then places advertisements seeking to reunite it with its owner or to find a new home.

As part of its awareness campaign marking the 10-year anniversary of the network, the group will distribute an informational letter to about 600 campus administrators to brief them on the services available. It includes a plea for assistance in locating animals in need of help and for volunteers.

And soon, an annual display advertisement will run in the Stanford Daily to remind campus residents leaving for the summer to contact the network for help instead of abandoning a pet.

Cat Network volunteers prefer to be the first contact when a situation arises involving an animal. Volunteers work closely with Crane Pest Control, the contractor enlisted by the university to rescue endangered animals and to handle transportation and delivery of dead or injured animals.

The university's cat population is at about 150; many are aged in the double digits. Hyde said litters are a thing of the past at Stanford since the current cat population is spayed and neutered. "We really don't have kittens born at the university anymore."

Most of the resident cats are extremely shy and maintain a low profile. Sightings are rare. "If they hear me, they'll come," said Ann Seiminara, a veteran volunteer. "Most of them are hidden unless a feeder calls out to them."

Members of the network marked their anniversary with a party last week at the Bechtel International Center. Cake and mugs were presented to the approximately 30 guests in attendance. SR