Volunteers create winter shelters for campus cats

Cozy kitty on its winter home. Grace Everett | Photographer

By Matt Kyle | Staff Writer

Last week, the Office of Missions and Public Life partnered with the Waco Animal Birth Control Clinic to recruit volunteers to build emergency winter shelters for the campus cats before Winter Storm Landon hit.

Doriann Beverly, senior coordinator of community service, said a mix of Baylor students and staff as well as McLennan Community College students came together to help build the emergency shelters.

Beverly said the building for the shelters was done last Tuesday morning in order to have them ready before the rain began Wednesday evening. She said the turnaround was quick, as the approval for the winter shelters was given Monday and volunteers were recruited the same day via the What’s New BU newsletter.

Beverly said the shelters were made by cutting holes in covered plastic bins and insulating them with styrofoam and straw.

“Last year, several people brought things to campus, and they were cardboard boxes, blankets,” Beverly said. “Those things tend to soak up moisture and retain it, and then it’s hard to keep the animals warm. So what we use instead is a shelter that’s made out of a big Rubbermaid bin. The cats generate their heat from their bodies, and it gets trapped inside the little houses with them. And there you have it, they can stay warm and dry.”

Beverly said some of the cat colonies did not need shelters, as they live near spaces where they can stay warm.

“Some colonies we know that the cats have shelter because they’re located near a building that has underground entrances, and they can go in there and get warm,” Beverly said. “Or the ones that are near the transformers outside of the parking garages — those are really warm areas, so they can go over there. But then there are other areas that are outside of buildings that are just kind of near parking lots and don’t really have a lot of options. So those are the ones that we focused on.”

Micah Mitchell, a graduate apprentice in the Office of Missions and Public Life, said he volunteered to help out the cats when he was informed about the shelter project by Beverly.

Mitchell said helping the cats opened his eyes to the types of needs around campus. He also said it is inspiring to see how Beverly cares for the cats on campus.

“It’s not something that I had ever really previously thought about before,” Mitchell said. “Doriann has been helping out with those cats a lot. She’s amazing. It’s just really cool to see how she cares for [the cats]. Putting effort into caring for those things, I think can do a lot for people in general. It just kind of gives you a better holistic worldview.”