Killing cats or saving lives?

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Karina Coleman

Senior CUH student Michelle Hamilton-Golis shares a photo with the Hawaii Cat Foundation protesting "Chaminade Kills cats."

Calling it “animal cruelty” is an understatement compared to the signs and shouts of the community protestors in front of the Chaminade University campus on Oct. 19, alleging that “Chaminade kills cats.”

For more than 20 years, community volunteers have been taking care of the Chaminade’s wild cat population. According to Kapono Ryan,  director of Communications at Chaminade, roughly 100 cats (20 kittens and 80 adults) live on campus. But as of May, Chaminade has issued a complete stop to all the volunteers from feeding the felines on campus.

Liability concerns, increased feeding messes around campus, growing concerns of the campus community, and fears of the public releasing new cats onto the campus were deemed problematic. Therefore, the cat feeding privileges were revoked, causing the local cat feeders and cat lovers in the area to become outraged.

Community protestors, consisting of local cat feeders and cat lovers, formed in front of Chaminade University on Oct. 19, voicing their passionate opposition through angry signs and angrier words.

“The president of the school, Bro. Bernard Ploeger, never answers my emails or letters,” said Elaine Dos Santos, vice president of the Hawaii Cat Foundation. “I know he’s avoiding me, and that’s why we’re taking a stand, because Chaminade is killing cats.”

Chaminade has refuted these claims from the Hawaii Cat Foundation.

“Chaminade has been working with the Hawaiian Humane Society and a partner organization to ensure the shelter and care of these feral cats,” the university announced in a press release on Oct. 19. “The new partnership promises a good outcome for those in the community who are concerned about the welfare of the animals as well as those who are concerned about health and safety due to their presence.”

 But the protestors were adamant about what they perceived as Chaminade’s mistreatment of the felines on campus.

“Chaminade has no right to take this away from us,” said James Nelson, local community volunteer and cat feeder. “(Chaminade is) cat killers. These poor animals are suffering every day from no food, water, or even hot, warm milk. They need to eat just as much as us humans have the privilege to.”

This is not recent news, according to Ryan. For a long time, Saint Louis School and the Marianist Center of Hawaii have both held a policy prohibiting the feeding of the feral cats, and Chaminade is now in alignment with the overall policy, she said.

One of the 100 Chaminade cats on campus. (Photo by Remi Kohno)
One of the 100 Chaminade cats on campus.
(Photo by Remi Kohno)

Chaminade said it has made the decision to prevent volunteers from feeding the cats because of its concern for the people in close proximity on campus. With the many local wild cats living on campus, the university is concerned because it’s unsure if the animals have been vaccinated, so they could possibly have fleas, ticks or another health issues.

Maintenance staff at CUH has been ordered, during shifts, to help group cats and transport them to the Humane Society. There, the Humane Society will determine the health of the cats and whether or not they can be managed. The volunteers for the Hawaii Cat Foundation disagree with this policy as they see these cats as their family and not just animals to be taken care of.

“Not giving those cats the right to eat, or be taken care of, isn’t Christian at all,” Dos Santos said. “All cats deserve the right to live.”

What others are saying about it:

**From Michelle Hamilton-Golis, a Chaminade senior: “Every time I’m walking back to my residential hall on campus late at night, there’s always a ton of cats every where, and I don’t like it.”

**From Karina Coleman, a Chaminade senior: “Why are they (the protesters) so amped about cats? We are not killing cats. If so, where I have been, because out of my three years here at Chaminade, I have yet to see a cat being hurt for that much.”

**From Michael Anderson, a community volunteer with the Hawaii Cat Foundation: “Lil Billy (a name given to one of the cats on campus), I love him, we share a bond, a love and a connection. The fact that Chaminade is trying to end this, I’m upset and that’s exactly why I’m here to stand for the rights of those cats that are not harming anyone.”