Elusive Canyon Matriarch Captured
This week, Ms. Tuxedo Patches, the canyon’s feline matriarch, was finally spayed after over a year of effort on the part of campus staff.
Throughout her tenure in the canyon, Ms. Tuxedo Patches has birthed more kittens than campus staff has been able to keep track of, posing a significant problem to environmental health of the canyon. According to the Portland Audubon Society’s Wildlife Care Center, a local wildlife rehabilitation organization, cats are responsible for nearly 40% of the injured animals they take in. Since many birds in the canyon are migratory, their deaths can have significant impacts on ecosystems beyond Oregon. The spaying of Ms. Tuxedo Patches represents a significant victory in Reed’s effort to humanely decrease the amount of environmental harm the canyon cats are able to do.
Ms. Tuxedo Patches has been living at Reed for the past two and a half years, since she herself was a kitten. Since then, campus staff has recorded the birth of four litters of kittens, and it is possible that more kittens could have been born without their knowledge. The first two litters were captured by facilities services and were rehomed; only one kitten escaped from the third litter. The kitten that got away from the third litter – Pretty Kitty, a large orange tabby cat – was captured in November. Ms. Tuxedo Patches’ fourth litter, consisting of three kittens (now five months old) remains in the canyon, and all of the cats are now completely feral. All of the cats occupy the space under the gas shed near the Cerf Amphitheater, and have been extremely elusive during efforts to trap them. With Ms. Tuxedo Patches spayed, there are now only three known canyon cats with the ability to reproduce, averting a potential feline population explosion that might have been devastating to Reed’s avian community members.
Ms. Tuxedo Patches still roams her home turf today, but she now bears a newly clipped ear – the universal mark of a spayed or neutered feral cat. Her continued life in the canyon will be a persistent reminder of Reed’s commitment to environmental consciousness and humane-feline relations, something that will surely resonate strongly with a student body that has been variously described as cat-friendly, or even cat-loving.