Stray cat on campus deserves a home

The black cat that has been showing up around campus all semester is no stranger to the people walking on AJ’s Way every day.

She was first seen back in August by Alan Swigonski, director of the Waldron Campus Center, and Catherine Oakley, associate director of the Waldron Campus Center.

“We have no idea where she came from, but she has been spotted anywhere from around campus to West 14th street,” Oakley said.

The Waldron staff has been bringing out food for the young cat wherever she has appeared.

“There is one older woman that stops in [to Waldron] and asks about her at the desk from time to time, very concerned that she will not make it through a harsh winter,” Oakley said.

Many are worried for the cat once winter comes around. With Erie weather being unpredictable, a homeless cat gives animal lovers a reason to fret.

The Episcopal Church has also been keeping an eye on her.  A staff member there is willing to give the poor kitty a home once she is captured.

“I have a cat carrier in my office so that if and when I can get close enough, I can place the cat in the carrier and escort it to a happy owner,” Swigonski said.

The cat is already becoming close to peoples’ hearts. More than one person has given the cat a name.

John Chacona, media marketing and communications writer, gave the cat the obvious name of “AJ”.

“First of all, AJ (what other name could that cat have, right?) is a dear little creature, and obviously comfortable around people,” Chacona said. “That’s unusual for strays or feral cats, and it makes me think that AJ might have been in someone’s home once.

“I also know that cats who live outdoors in climates like ours have a life span of about three years, and although AJ seems well taken care of, it’s time to move inside.”

Some people have tried to pick up the cat, but it usually runs away.

“I got pretty close, but AJ is the Krafty Kampus Kat, and is far smarter than me—but not for long,”  Chacona said. “I have a blanket and a jar of catnip in my office.  It’s just a matter of time.”

Chacona is not the only one trying to catch the cat. Waldron campus staff is prepared for someone to catch the cat and has a crate ready behind the desk.

Stephanie Barnhizer, instructor in the philosophy program, is one of the many  who hopes that someone will scoop AJ up soon.

“Cats are more easily contained if one puts a blanket over them, and wraps them up in it,” Barnhizer said. “Not too tightly, but just enough so they cannot escape.  Most cats will calm down then.”

Students and faculty are being called to action to help AJ survive this coming winter.

“The compassionate thing to do is to provide this charming and friendly creature with a good home, and my understanding is that an employee or two have volunteered to provide that home,” Chacona said.  “There’s a crate at the Waldron front desk if anyone can manage to get close.”

Steve Caulfield, a sophomore computer science major, doesn’t see the cat as a major concern.

“It doesn’t bother anyone,” he said. “I think it’s smart and we don’t need to do anything about it. When the winter comes it will find shelter.”

Jessica McNear, a senior nutrition major, disagrees and thinks that the cat should have a home by winter.

“I don’t see the cat as a problem on campus,” McNear said. “However, I think it would be really nice for it to have a home before winter comes.”



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