A clowder of cats on the College of the Rockies Cranbrook campus is at the centre of controversy.
The colony, which is home to 14 feral cats has been on the campus for a decade, managed by volunteers with the East Kootenay Community Animal Response and Education Society.
Now, the college is looking to relocate the home, citing an increasing negative impact on its campus.
The society has since started a petition to get the college to rescind this action before the end-of-March deadline.
The cats are “healthy, have names, individual personalities, and are strongly bonded to one another,” the online petition states.
“The cats are all spayed, neutered, vaccinated, microchipped. Their food, water and shelter that has been provided to them through the volunteer colony caretaker, at their own personal expense for the entire duration.”
The society argues that relocating the cats “would be inhumane, cruel and not acceptable!”
As of March 23, the petition had garnered 20,213 signatures.
In a series of tweets on March 20, the college said that in the last six months “we’ve experienced increased impact on our operations and our ability to maintain a safe learning and working environment for students and employees.”
This, accoridng to the college, includes reports “over the years” of contamination from feces and urine.
“Unintended consequences of the colony have seen cats taking shelter in the vehicles in our auto trades programs which have been contaminated with cat nests, feces and in some cases deceased animals. This has caused us to write off two vehicles that had been used for training.
“Last fall, we asked the current caretaker of the feral cat colony to provide a humane plan to relocate the colony with College financial support. Sadly, no solution was provided.”
The college’s president, Paul Vogt, has met with a local animal support group who could be the answer to finding a new location.