Updated: Oct 18, 2021
What was once a cat colony is no more as carnivorous canidae fill their bellies with the cat population at Valley.
By Luis Flores, Ava Rosate, Ashley Castaneda and Alua Karatay
First came the howling, then the shrieks. Valley College’s feral cats were stalked and hunted by coyotes as they fell victim to the urban food chain.
Dating back to 1999, Valley homed an abundance of undomesticated cats that lived on campus among students and faculty. The population of cats, which once consisted of 50-100 stray felines at its peak, has almost completely vanished. Now the population consists of two or three cats who are rarely seen on campus. Despite students, faculty and community members providing the cats shelter, stray coyotes fed on the feline population and slowly reduced their presence to nearly zero. The vanishing of all the cats is believed to be caused by coyotes straying onto campus, feeding on the felines.
“There’s no more food left for the coyotes to eat,” said maintenance staff Travis Marshall. “The gardeners found cat remains in the bushes.”
Marshall said he has seen two cats left on campus which hang out on roofs to avoid the coyotes.
Care for the cats started decades ago according to Anthropology Professor Rebecca Frank. A former campus carpenter, built cat shelters 15-20 years ago. Frank has been supporting the cats for roughly eight years along with Linda Manning, a member of the Valley Glen community and maintenance operations member Tom Lopez who retired before the campus closure.
During their peak in 1999, campus personnel and cat caretakers gathered in campus center voicing disagreements and planning out means to cope with the growing feline population, according to a 22 year old article from the LA Times.
After meeting and discussing population control solutions, both groups agreed to spay the cats, preventing population growth on campus. Valley President at the time Tyree Wieder, implemented the plan immediately and gave it a six-month trial, which proved ineffective decades later.
“The population was not under control,” said Frank. “Most of the cat population lived under the bungalows.”
Students complained when cats wandered into the athletics sand pit and used it as their litter box. In a last ditch attempt to control the cat population in the bungalows, Manning put birth control in the cat’s food which contains megestrol acetate, a contraceptive which prevents female cats from going into heat and becoming pregnant.
Despite complaints, students, faculty and community members showed support by sheltering the cats along with donating food, medicine and supplies.
To this day, the community still tends to the few cats still living on campus.
Valley student Jasmine Xocoxic started her first semester on Aug. 30 and says she hasn’t seen any cats.
“The coyotes come out at night” said Xocoxic, however she has not seen any during the day.
Decades of the feral cat population living on Valley’s campus sees its end coming at the hands of wild hungry coyotes.
— With contributions from Marcos Franco and Isaac Dektor