Author: Jing Si; Translator: Riley Peng @ Animal Dialogue
First Published on Animal Dialogue, 06/29/2017
It’s graduation season again! What are your graduation wishes? At Fudan University, a group of students was planning on helping the stray cats in the south part of campus find mates.
Most people who have wandered around Fudan’s campus know that this is a “Cat University.” The campus is dominated by varieties of cats: the academic cats in Guanghua, the lazy cats in the dorms, the cat beauties you’ll see after returning from late-night study sessions… Guess what? You’ll even spot a cat on the backseat of your bike! There is a popular saying on the Internet that goes, “You should just be a Fudan cat in your next life. You will be well-fed, sun-bathed everyday, and will even receive hugs from cute girls.” Doesn’t being a Fudan cat seem the most wonderful thing in the world?
However, the back side of the happiness is the invisible risks. Because they lack competitions and had abundant food resources, they were able to reproduce quickly led to a drastic increase in the Fudan feline population. This gave rise to competition for food and survival as well as diseases transmissions.
In order to alleviate these problems, the School of Life Sciences Class of 2013, together with Fudan University Stray Cat Care Club and Blue Ribbon (a stray cat care organization in Shanghai), started a three-step program to improve the quality of life of Fudan felines.
How does the “Three-Step” program work?
1.Control Fecundity: Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR)
2.Standardize Feeding: Set up fixed feeding stations with cat food
3.Long-Term Monitoring and School-Wide Education
What is TNR?
Trap Neuter Return, or TNR, is a more humane method of curbing stray cat and dog population than euthanasia.
–Humane Trapping Method: if the cats are human-friendly, they can be held in the arms and placed into the traps. For cats not so friendly, box-traps are the best option. Use food to lure them into the trap, which is safe for both cats and humans, and something everyone can easily do.
–Sterilization: by spaying and neutering these captured cats, we can effectively control their population. Professional vets from pet hospitals will complete this step. They will examine a corner near the tip of the cat’s ear to see whether it has already been sterilized or not to avoid repeating the same surgery.
We contacted the two biology-majored founders of this program – Zhuoyuan Zhang and Yifei Pan – and chatted with them about their impressive graduation wish.
Q: Please introduce yourselves!
Zhang: I’m a Fudan senior majoring in biology, and a second-grader when it comes to animal rights.
Pan: I’m a Fudan senior graduating this year.
Q: Why did you want to start this program?
Pan: It’s mainly because while the number of cats perching outside our dorms has exponentially increased, they have a very low survival rate. At the same time, these cats live in bad conditions, often circling around the garbage bins on campus looking for food. They also disrupt the ecological balance here. Zhang had mentioned to me earlier that Fudan’s student club concerning about cat issues wanted to spay or neuter the cats, but because of insufficient funds, they couldn’t implement this on a large scale. Luckily, I had some related experiences, and considering I can seize the chance of graduation to get more money, I decided to begin this program.
Zhang: My roommates and my next-door dorm mates also wanted to launch a nonprofit project for the cats before graduation, so we didn’t hesitate much. The benefits for the cats are the main reason, just as written in our promotion pamphlets.
Q: Who are responsible for carrying out TNR?
Pan: Students from the School of Life Sciences and the iHeart Club trapped and released cats, while professional vets took care of the neutering.
Q: Which step is the program at right now?
Zhang: Many cats have already been spayed and neutered, but we are still in the TNR process now. Most of the cats who came back from surgeries looked good.
Q: What obstacles have you encountered in your program so far?
Pan: The first problem is funding, and we still need to communicate with the university and complete administrative procedures. Another tricky thing is catching the cats, which are very smart and don’t often enter our traps.
Zhang: I agree that funding is our first problem. In my junior year, Teacher Bian (a cat-loving faculty at Fudan) tried to catch the cats and then get them neutered. I contacted her and recommended Blue Ribbon Volunteer’s Society to her. Later, because of insufficient funds, she stopped her ventures. Thus, when we began to consider this charity project, the first thing that we worried about was funding. We wanted to gather donations from classmates or get sponsored by companies. As of now, most of our funding comes from public donations and the Class of 2017 Fudan University Graduation Dream Show. In fact, we still run short in terms of financial resources right now.
Next is our publicity. Many students don’t really understand what TNR is and think it cruel (in fact, some even protested against us when we were advertising our project in our class). But our leaflets contained information about TNR and the benefits that cats could get from the project were logical (quite obviously), many people expressed supports after we organized a seminar, as well as during our subsequent off-line discussions.
Q: What other thoughts do you have about this project?
Pan: I consider this a very meaningful project. We can seize this opportunity to enhance our campus environment and the living conditions of cats, as well as to improve our campus administrative regulations. We also want this to be a present for our alma mater before graduating.
Zhang: I realized the importance of co-operation. Individual heroes are rare, but we should all try our best to do as much good as we can. Also, when you consider a deed meaningful and good, don’t hesitate, just go for it.
A few words from the editor: Although Spay and Neuter may sound cruel to some, it is in fact a very maturely-developed and commonplace surgery, bringing countless benefits to individual felines and the environment. We spend so much time caring for our virtual and real pet cats at home, but why don’t we consider sparing some of our love for these homeless cats living by the garbage bins?