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What happened to the cats on campus?

Former FCaMP volunteer and Cat’s Meow Adoption Center founder Michelle Corella sets a food bowl out for feral cats Wednesday, Feb. 24, on the NMSU campus. Despite added challenges brought on by COVID, the feral cat population at NMSU remains well cared for. (Photo by Santana Ochoa/Kokopelli)

After New Mexico State University’s Feral Cat Management Program disbanded in 2017, some may be wondering what happened to the program and the cats that lived on the Las Cruces campus.

FCaMP was a volunteer program at NMSU that stabilized and reduced the on-campus feral cat population by spaying, neutering, vaccinating and microchipping the cats, and then returning them to campus where they can live freely.

The program started in 2002, but program director Michelle Corella had to end it after she could not find someone to take her place as she prepared to retire from NMSU in 2019.

Corella said that the majority of former FCaMP members are still actively feeding and caring for the remaining cats as feeding stations are still active at different areas around campus.

“We will continue to [work] until all of those kitties, who were part of our program, are gone. There are roughly 30 kitties remaining, and most of them are pretty old,” Corella said.

With FCaMP being disbanded, Corella founded and currently manages The Cat’s Meow Adoption Center, located at 2211 N. Mesquite St., near East Madrid Avenue. The Cat’s Meow Adoption Center was founded in October 2014 and houses cats and kittens in foster care waiting to be adopted.

Corella said that while the FCaMP program and Cat’s Meow are similar, they are two separate groups, each with its own mission.

Kim Jokinen, a worker at Cat’s Meow, said that problems and needs associated with the remaining on-campus feral cat population do still arise. Corella is often still contacted since most of those cats are already chipped under FCaMP, but Cat’s Meow steps in and takes over from there.

Feral cats gather at a feeding station on campus. Despite added challenges brought on by COVID, the feral cat population at NMSU remains well cared for. (Photo by Santana Ochoa/Kokopelli)

“We take them in, get them health care, get them spayed, neutered, we give them their vaccines and get them ready for adoptions to hopefully good, loving, forever-homes,” Jokinen said.

Corella indicated that since COVID-19 has impacted different advocacy groups and shelters around town, Cat’s Meow has had many more cats coming through its doors than usual.

“Historically, we would facilitate about 100 feline adoptions annually; last year we did almost 300,” Corella said. “So far, it looks like this trend is going to continue in 2021. We are doing the best we can to keep up, but we hope that the flood slows down at some point. It’s been a good ride. It’s taken a long time, but that’s how Trap-Neuter-Return works, as long as you do it properly. If you take care of the kitties, it does work.”

2 Comments

  1. julie leonard

    you guys rock! glad to know you and have you in my life!

  2. Good read!

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