It’s the Cat’s Meow: Coalition Cares for Abandoned Felines

Posted: January 8, 2010 at 1:02 am, Last Updated: January 8, 2010 at 10:13 am

By Robin Herron

Feral cats Bert and Ernie are best friends. Photo courtesy of the Mason Cat Coalition

Thanks to the volunteers of the Mason Cat Coalition, feral cats Bert and Ernie, Rocky and Bentley, Mia, Annie, Catnan and Masey can be assured of regular meals and a warm shelter on the Fairfax Campus.

According to Becky Nemeth, manager of the switchboard and kiosk in University Information and one of the Cat Coalition’s coordinators, the group’s recent call for volunteers over the holiday break netted a new crew of people willing to feed the cats. The cats are fed once a day, seven days a week, all year long, “in rain, snow and sleet,” says Nemeth.

Nemeth says the population of feral cats has been stable for the past couple of years, but since the group was founded in 1974 by former employee Joan Ziemba, the coalition has rescued and treated more than 250 cats and kittens.

In the past 15 years, the group has raised more than $12,000 in contributions, which are used primarily for veterinarian services. All the cats the group cares for have been captured, spayed or neutered and vaccinated. Each one had the tip of their ear clipped to mark them; then they were released back to their “territories” on campus.

The "Lot A" kitten was rescued and eventually adopted. Photo courtesy of the Mason Cat Coalition

Over the years, some of the cats have been tamed and adopted. In fact, Nemeth says proudly, the group was involved in a “rescue” just before the holidays that resulted in a successful adoption. A black and white kitten was found wandering near the Lot A foot bridge. The student who saw the cat contacted the coalition; Nemeth and Suzy Wiedemann, business and project manager in University Information, went to the area and left food for the cat. Other volunteers were later able to capture the cat, and Kirsten Jennette, systems engineer in ITU, took it home with her. And here’s a happy ending: the student who originally spotted the cat adopted it.

Although there were enough volunteers to cover the holidays, Nemeth says there is always a need for more. In addition to purchasing food and leaving it out for the cats, volunteers build shelters out of wood or other materials, such as plastic storage containers. When construction on campus displaces the cats, volunteers have to find the cats and establish a new feeding station and shelter area. And when new stray cats are discovered, they must be trapped and taken to the vet.

For those who are interested in providing monetary support, a foundation account has been established; specify Mason Cat Coalition: account #110016. Even payroll deduction can be used to donate.

For more information, contact Nemeth at or Colleen Bauer, associate registrar, at

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