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ACU launches unique study of campus cats

Students from Abilene Christian University’s Department of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences will be conducting research on the feral cats around the university’s campus for the next several months.

Under the direction of faculty members, students have captured and collared seven cats on the ACU campus. These collars are equipped with radio monitors.

Jim Carpenter, head of the project, says there are two goals with this research. One is to educate students on how to come up with a study, implement it and analyze the data. And two, get a better understanding of where the cats go, what times of the day they are most active, and how territorial the cats are with each other. He says the most important part of this study is comparing the neutered cats' territorial behaviors with those that have not been neutered. “That may then lead to a larger study in the future where we’re gonna be capturing more cats and tracking a larger group of cats to see if we can get a better answer to that.”

Carpenter says there has been research on feral cats before, but practically no research has been done on a university campus, or a Trap-Neuter-Return site; ACU is both.

The students are set to finish up with this research sometime in April, but Carpenter is hoping he will be able to keep it going for about a year.