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Mildcats keeps watch on ASU’s feline population


November 13, 2007

He was homeless, living off his wits, and sleeping in a tunnel on ASU’s Tempe campus. And just when it just seemed that his luck was about to run out, someone found Raymond and took him to a place with food and clean water.

A doctor’s visit was next. But for Raymond, there was bad news. He tested positive for feline leukemia.

Raymond is one of the feral cats that are cared for by Mildcats, ASU’s cat-rescue organization.

Mildcats members found Raymond living in a tunnel near the Ritter Building, trapped him, took him to the veterinarian for neutering and shots, and released him near the Moeur Building, where he would be safe from construction activities.

Raymond accumulated a number of fans in the six months or so that he lived near the Moeur Building, according to Carmen Febus, the treasurer for Mildcats and a research technician in the Nutrition Department at the Polytechnic campus.

Millie Kowalski, a library specialist in Archives and Special Collections, was one of them.

“Many times when I would feed him, students would ask about him, then tell me their stories how they would visit him,” she says. “One day Raymond was sitting quietly at a picnic table, looking up at a student who was busy working. I called him by name a few times, then the student picked up his head and asked, ‘Do I know you?’ Turns out the student’s name was Raymond, and he didn’t know the cat was Raymond. He told me he often came to study and sit with Raymond.”

When several people expressed interest in adopting Raymond, it was back to the vet for feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus tests.

“I about cried when they told me he was positive for feline leukemia (FeLV),” Febus said. “I thought it was so unfair!”

Though feline leukemia isn’t an automatic, immediate death sentence, it would turn out to be more difficult to find a home for Raymond than Febus originally thought. But Daniel Gerwig, a music composition major who recently returned to school, and his family stepped up to the plate.

“My wife and I have extensive experience caring for FeLV kitties,” Gerwig says. “Though we have other cats, we know the precautions that must be made.

“I’ve truly missed visiting Raymond since the day he left campus. It would be an honor if I could help prolong his life, even if only for a short while.”

Sadly, Raymond isn’t the only FeLV kitty on the campus. Casanova also has the disease, and he has no feeling in his left paw – which, Febus says, “makes him a three-legged cat.”

Just as his name implies, Casanova, too, is looking for love.

Anyone interested in adopting Casanova, or helping support the feral (homeless) cats on the Tempe campus, should contact Febus at (480) 727-1737, or visit the Web site www.mildcatsatasu.org.