Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Daytona Beach campus is home to several colonies of cats. Some are friendly while others avoid people. Before we moved into the new library in 2018, I sometime sat outside the temporary library during lunch. Often I would be surrounded by cats and I usually gave them some of my lunch: fish, turkey, and chicken. Around that time, some students, with the support of faculty and staff, formed a club to help feed and care for the campus cats. They called it P.A.W.S. or the Protecting Animal Wellness Society.
P.A.W.S. placed and maintained a few feeding stations around campus. Periodically the students trap and release cats after getting them their checkups, shots, and spaying or neutering. They foster kittens and find permanent homes for cats that are suitable for adoption. For wild cats, they return them to campus.
Students run P.A.W.S. but we faculty and staff help support them financially. Each year I give a few hundred dollars. Normally, students keep the feeding stations filled with food and water, but during this Winter Break when most students are away from campus, local staff were asked to sign up to feed the cats. Because I would be in town, I volunteered to take several evening feeding times.
My first time feeding the cats was Monday, December 16, 2019, directly after leaving work. I had been given a list of instructions along with the combination for the several locks on the feeding station. I found the station against the rear wall of the fitness center. Although the cats still had dry food, they gathered around me, eager to get their dinner of wet catfood. On this occasion, only one silver-striped cat let me pet it. But I refilled the bowls with dry food, portioned out the food from the can, and cleaned and refilled the large water bowls. I counted six cats.
I was scheduled for the following evening, but the weather was rainy. Patty, the P.A.W.S. staff coordinator, texted me to say that she had looked after them at lunchtime so it wasn’t necessary to go in the rain. So I missed one feeding.
My final scheduled feeding was Wednesday, December 18. Because this was a half-workday, I had to return to campus in the evening. At least the weather was good. Again the cats swarmed around me while I prepared dinner. This time, three black / black and white cats let me scratch their backs while they waited. Fed and watered, I locked the station and snapped a few more photos. I think there were five cats this day.
Read more about P.A.W.S. from these sites:
- Avion – Club Spotlight: P.A.W.S.
- Daytona Beach News-Journal – Embry Riddle PAWS Helps Cats on Campus
- Facebook – Friends of ERAU PAWS
If you want to donate to P.A.W.S., go to https://givingto.erau.edu/paws.