The Mason Cat Coalition is a dynamic and ever-changing group of students, faculty, staff, and alumni at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. The Coalition began rescuing abandoned campus cats in September 1994 and has now rescued nearly 1,000 cats and kittens from Mason’s campus, other campuses, and other areas of the community. The Mason Cat Coalition was founded by Joan Ziemba and Andy Showers and a cadre of approximately 45 volunteers and campus supporters.
In the beginning the mission of the Mason Cat Coalition (MCC) was to spay/neuter and place, when possible, cats left behind by students or dumped on campus by people in the surrounding community. In 1994, based on the reports of staff feeding abandoned cats near their offices and buildings, there were an estimated there were then approximately 300 cats on campus. Kittens were being born behind refrigerators in the biology lab, in the seats of the heavy equipment in the facilities yard, under bushes – cats were reported everywhere.
With a little research, the group formed a committee, established feeding stations, recruited station managers, developed a network of volunteer feeders and trappers, built weather shelters and feeding stations, and enlisted the assistance of local veterinarians.
Fourteen years and approximately 450 cats, 25 weather shelters, and 20 feeding stations later, the George Mason University campus now has a stable and aging cat colony of approximately 30 cats too cantankerous to place in homes and healthy enough to live out their lives in a peaceful and relatively safe environment. Volunteers continue to feed at the 12 feeding stations throughout campus and 8 in the surrounding community, and report any new sightings, the occasional infected cut or scratch is treated with antibiotics, and those cats old enough to mellow are placed in homes.
The mission of the Coalition has now extended into the community where Mason students also live. Here too, MCC volunteers helped build weather shelters and feeding stations located in the surrounding communities, and within a few years, several hundred more cats had been rescued.
Some recent MCC successes include:
- More than 40 cats living in the extended backyards of an elderly woman and her neighbor were rescued or spayed/neutered;
- A dozen cats were rescued from a side-road residence that backed-up to the campus;
- A townhouse development in another community where we provided weather and feeding shelters protects 62 cats and 22 kittens;
- A dumpster near a Chick-Fil-A harbors another half dozen cats;
- The neighborhoods of Mason Cat Coalition volunteers and their friends have helped an almost countless number of cats and kittens over the years.
- Reading about an American woman in Mexico helping cats and dogs on an island off the coast, one director collected the needed medications, bedding, and donations and went to Mexico to assist. This year she hopes to bring her veterinarian with her for spay/neuter assistance.
The MCC has also assisted at other university campuses. When one director went to the George Washington University Virginia Campus in Loudoun County, she discovered cats abandoned by the residential community surrounding the campus. The Coalition helped a network develop there and it has already spay/neutered a dozen cats and found homes for several.
The MCC has never received funding from the university and relies solely on donations. The Coalition has no paid staff and all volunteers work full-time at other jobs. They raise funding through events and drives to pay for life-saving surgeries, medical treatments, flea and tick treatments, and shelter supplies.
The Shelter of the Week grant will help to provide weather shelters in many communities, replace dilapidated feeding stations, and provide spay/neuter services and medical care.