By KIERAN MULLARKEY
There are household cats wandering around campus. Most are seen around Willard Hall, Mercer Hall and on College Avenue near Seacobeck. A few have even been sighted around the UMW Apartments.
Where do they come from?
Most cities have stray cats, but Fredericksburg has a major problem with stray cats and it’s getting worse. The City of Fredericksburg Animal Shelter states on its website that, “Fredericksburg has an existing and growing problem with stray and feral cats.”
It is unknown exactly how many of these cats inhabit the surrounding woods and streets near campus; however, this growing population has made itself visible to UMW students.
These cats have made their presence known, but go about their own business without disturbing anyone. “I’ve seen a cat around Mercer [Hall] a few times. Junior Corey Lipp said, “She’s never bothered me.”
When I lived in Willard last year, I saw a similarly described cat nearly once a week. Not much has changed since last year; this cat is still on the loose. Other cats have been spotted meandering around that area without an owner in sight. Without an owner nearby, this cat, along with others seen around Seacobeck are in great danger.
Car traffic on College Avenue, Sunken Road, Campus drive, and the cul-de-sac behind Willard and Woodward endanger these cat’s lives.
Students are worried about the well-being of these animals. “Being a cat lover, I’m worried about [cats] getting hit by cars.” Senior Derek Roberts stated. Senior Casey Custer feels similarly. “I hate to say it, but sooner or later they’re gonna get hit by someone’s car,” she said.
It is only a matter of time before one of these cats gets hurt, but there is something we can do.
Most of these cats are probably strays since Fredericksburg has a known problem of stray cats in the area.
It is also likely that some irresponsible pet owners are not keeping a keen eye on their cats. These streets get a lot of traffic, so cat owners should be aware of the potential dangers around campus.
We cannot control the stray cat population or irresponsible cat owners, but we can take certain precautions when a cat on campus is spotted. You can drive slower when on campus, check underneath you car when backing out and keep an eye out for “lost pet” signs in case you see a lost cat.
Small steps such as simply being aware of nearby cats when driving can save a cat’s life. If we are more cautious and aware, we can better protect these cats on campus.