About five years after rescuing two kittens from a flood, a local bed-and-breakfast owner in West Campus has made it her goal to help as many cats as possible and find them forever homes.
Christina Huizar and her boyfriend Patrick Parker created the Cats of West Campus Facebook page three years ago to find homes for stray cats and get them neutered, vaccinated and socialized. So far, they have found homes for a 12 cats and trapped, neutered and returned many more.
“Stray cats don’t have a voice, so we have to be their voice and advocate for them,” Huizar said. “We are here to show that they are smart, loving, beautiful creatures who deserve to live in peace and dignity.”
Parker said one of their goals is to socialize the cats so they can find them a lasting home. The couple socialized and rescued one cat, who lived at the corner of 22nd and Nueces streets for years, right before developers tore down the apartments near where he lived.
“At first I kind of felt like it was a ‘Fake it till you make it’ type situation, like we were just hanging up a shingle and pretending to be a rescue organization,” Parker said. “Now it feels more real because we really do it. Every day we’re out there feeding and socializing kitties.”
Huizar said they also want to spread awareness of the importance of the “trap-neuter-return” method and vaccination to prevent overpopulation and the spread of diseases. Parker said a cat that has a clipped ear has been fixed and vaccinated.
“West Campus and UT would be overrun with stray cats if it wasn’t for the tireless work of trappers and great organizations like the Austin Animal Center,” Huizar said. “If we can open anyone’s heart to the worth of a feral cat, we’ll feel we have done our job.”
While the group has no official members, there are volunteers who help feed the cats and find possible foster homes.
“Living in Austin is great, because everyone is so passionate about animal welfare that we constantly meet like-minded individuals on our daily cat rounds,” Huizar said. “Knowing there are other people who also care about these overlooked cats encourages us to keep doing what we’re doing.”
Yu-Sheng Lo, an engineering mechanics graduate student, has been volunteering with Cats of West Campus since 2016. Lo said if the cats are happy, he’s happy.
“I feel sad for cats or other animals that can’t speak for themselves,” Lo said. “Those cats need to be fed, and (feeding them) can stop them from searching through trash for food, which makes a mess.”
As for the future of Cats of West Campus, they are looking to expand their foster program and get more volunteers.
“I figured it would fail miserably, but it was worth a shot,” Parker said. “I told Christina if it only helped one cat, then it would be worth it. It’s been successful beyond what we ever expected because it’s helped us find volunteers and people to foster and adopt the kitties.”