By Christina Meiser
After initially facing denial by SGA in September 2015, the FSC Campus Cat Club bounced back to become officially approved in April 2016. The club wasted no time putting together two successful events in their first full semester as an officially-recognized student organization.
The FSC Campus Cat Club is separate from the actual feral cat program on campus. The program was spearheaded a number of years ago by Safety Dispatcher Nan Holleyman. SPCA came in and rounded up the cats, spaying, neutering and vaccinating the felines through a process known as TNR, or Trap, Neuter, Return. The cats are fed every day and given regular flea treatments in addition to medical attention whenever it is needed.
Specifically designed to be a support group for the program, the club does not intend to participate in feeding or direct interactions with the cats. Instead, the FSC Campus Cat Club’s primary focus is fundraising to offset the costs associated with the constant and careful care the cats require. Managing a colony of 30 cats can be quite pricey.
In January, Heckle, one of the black cats by Edge Hall, nearly died. He was diagnosed with a blocked bladder, having arrived at the vet on death’s door. After his initial vet visit, Heckle had to be rushed back to the vet on multiple occasions due to complications that could have turned deadly if they had not been caught quickly. Heckle’s vet bill totaled out at over $1,100, which was paid off through generous donations in addition to an off-campus yard sale that was thrown together last minute.
Medical emergencies such as Heckle’s only confirm the need for a club to support the campus cats. The FSC Campus Cat Club conducted two fundraisers this semester. The first, called Cat Club Candy Craze, was held Oct. 6 in the Undercaf Breezeway. Participants were able to pay a small fee to guess the amount of candy provided in three jars. There were M&Ms, Skittles and jellybeans to appeal to a broader spectrum of candy lovers. FSC Biochemistry major Benjamin Sund won both the jellybean and M&Ms jars. Mark Haver, another student studying environmental science, won the Skittles jar. The Candy Craze raised $60, giving the Cat Club a successful fundraiser with which to kick off the school year.
Cat Club recently held a huge sale, which yielded nearly $600. The Cat Club Yard Sale was held Nov. 20 at the Honeyman Pavilion from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m., although volunteers were there as early as 6:30 a.m. to set everything up. The fundraiser was carefully put together and planned out over a number of months. Donations of all sorts were collected, individually priced and stored until the day of the sale. From mugs and cups to books and clothing, and even homemade treats, everyone who visited the sale found something they liked.
The profits from the sale will go towards supporting Project Bojangles – a major task the cat program will be taking on to get all the campus cats’ vaccines updated.
Mr. Bojangles was one of the most popular campus cats to reside at Florida Southern in recent memory. He was a stunning black and white tuxedo – small in physical size but with a heart and personality bigger than life itself. Students, staff and faculty alike loved him. Shortly after classes got out for the summer, Mr. Bojangles went missing. For almost a week he was nowhere to be found, until he appeared back on campus the evening of May 11. By the following morning, it was apparent that something was terribly wrong and Mr. Bojangles was immediately rushed to the vet. Unfortunately, x-rays revealed that he had suffered numerous fractures in his tail and pelvic area, and the decision was made to prevent any further pain.
Through the passing of Mr. Bojangles, those in charge of the cat program were able to meet a vet willing to assist them in revaccinating all 30 campus cats, and so the project was named in his honor. The FSC Campus Cat Club will continue to hold fundraisers during the spring semester to continue to support Project Bojangles as all the pieces begin to fall into place.
The Cat Club has about 80 members in their Facebook group, FSC Campus Cat Club. There are over 500 “likes” on the main Facebook page, Cats at FSC, which is also on Twitter and Instagram. The club created an Amazon wish list as well, to which the response has been well-received. The club is always looking for new members, who can reach out to any of the social media outlets or shoot an email to email@example.com.