[Vision2020] Caturday (May 5, 2018)
moscowcares at moscow.com
Sat May 5 05:44:39 PDT 2018
A perfect storm of win - win - win just in time for Caturday.
Courtesy of the Lakewood Patch (Lakewood, Georgia) at:
In Georgian Court's Cat Room, Students Find Knowledge, Peace
A valuable resource for pre-veterinary students to get hands-on experience, and a haven for stressed students, It helps kittens, too.
LAKEWOOD, NJ — For college students, getting experience in their field of study is a critical element of their studies, whether it's so they can find a job after graduation or so they can get into graduate school.
At Georgian Court University, there is an unusual offering that helps students who are in the pre-veterinary program, one that gives them the opportunity to work hands-on with animals without needing to leave campus: The Cat Room.
The Cat Room, however, has another purpose it serves: giving students a place to come and deal with the stress that goes with being in college, which can be hard for students who've never been away from home, for students dealing with family problems or even for those just trying to figure out how to balance all responsibilities of school and work and navigating a whole new social life and structure.
"Students will come between classes or on their breaks," said Louise Wootton, a professor and chair of the biology department at Georgian Court and director of its sustainability program. "They stay for a few minutes or a few hours. Some days I have 40 or 50 students through my door."
The Cat Room, you see, is housed in a storage closet off Wootton's office. The cats and kittens accompany Wootton to work each morning, then return home with her to Brick Township every night. Wootton fosters kittens and cats as a volunteer with Calling All Cats Rescues, which is based in Toms River and takes in kittens and cats from the local area to place them with adoptive families.
But getting kittens to the point they are able to be adopted takes work. A lot of it. And that's where the pre-vet students come in, said Wootton, who has been teaching at Georgian Court for 21 years.
"They need animal hours, and that can be hard to get when you don't have a car," Wootton said. Kittens that come in to the rescue to be fostered often are very young and some have medical issues that require special care. Last summer, one of the kittens in Wootton's care was born with a cleft palate, which required specialized care to feed it.
"That's really useful for the prevet students," Wootton said. The pre-vet students assist with the work of cleaning the cages, bottle-feeding kittens who need that kind of intensive care, as well as socializing the more difficult cases.
"We just got a group of very young kittens in and they're very hissy," she said. So the cuddling and petting to help them feel nurtured and safe becomes critical to being able to place them in homes.
That's where the cuddle time from other students comes in as well: making the kittens feel nurtured and loved the way the mother cat would typically do in caring for her kittens.
It has a reverse effect as well, however: helping students take their minds off whatever stress they're dealing with so they feel calm, too.
"You can see the visible change in their faces," Wootton said. In at least one case, the cuddling meant the difference for a student who was thinking about leaving Georgian Court. The student, as many often do, had been struggling with being away from home, and was on the fence about finishing out her freshman year.
"I got this call from her mother one day and the mother told me it (the cat room) had been the lifeline her daughter needed to make it through that first semester," Wootton said. She said the student had been a frequent visitor and had mentioned in passing how she had a lot of pets at home and she missed them, "but I had no idea she was on the verge of dropping out." The student ended up staying, Wootton said. "And her mother donated to the rescue because she was so grateful for what the kittens had done for her daughter."
The Cat Room didn't always exist. And Wootton wasn't always involved in cat rescue. It started, she said, with an effort to deal with a population of feral cats on the Georgian Court campus. Wootton said they were operating a trap-neuter-release program about 5 to 6 years ago and there were kittens that needed care. Once the colony at Georgian Court was controlled, they had no more kittens.
That's when Wootton got involved with Calling All Cats, she said.
In the last two years, more than 130 kittens have come through the Cat Room and gone on to new homes, she said. Currently she has 10 kittens and two adult cats she is fostering at the home she and her husband share with three cats who are permanent residents. She had never fostered cats until they began the TNR program at Georgian Court, she said. "My husband didn't marry a crazy cat lady," she said, laughing.
The kittens are with her every day that she's at the university, typically 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays, with shorter hours on Thursdays and Fridays.
"I love what it does for the students," Wootton said. "They spend so much time focused on what they need to do (for themselves) but there's also a piece that to come and do something for some other living thing, that's transformative.
For students looking for more information on how to help out in the cat room, or if you are interested in finding a forever home for kittens, contact Wootton in the second floor of Jeffries Hall.
Calling All Cats Rescues can be found on Facebook at:
Photos . . .
Seeya 'round town, Moscow, because . . .
"Moscow Cares" (the most fun you can have with your pants on)
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