As the Dumb Friends League and other organizations have started to set up shop on the CSU Spur campus this year, one group of existing residents has taken us all by surprise – a small colony of community cats, found living in the basement of the historic Livestock Exchange Building near the National Western Complex.

We estimate three to four free-roaming cats have been living together on the grounds of CSU Spur for some time, although there may likely be more. Each year, outdoor cats tend to start breeding when the days become longer and warmer, resulting in large numbers of litters arriving between the spring and fall – also known as “kitten season.” This period typically brings an influx of kittens in need of loving homes to animal shelters like ours during the summer months.

 As luck would have it, this “CSU Spur colony” of cats now has a caring and supportive neighbor in the Dumb Friends League. In January 2022, we opened our new Veterinary Hospital at CSU Spur to provide access to donor-subsidized care and unique learning opportunities for underserved communities in the Denver Metro area. At the time we discovered these cats, something truly serendipitous was underway – Metro Denver CAT, one of Colorado’s most respected feline welfare organizations, was about to join the League family on the CSU Spur campus.

Since its inception in 2016, Metro Denver CAT has been committed to connecting the local community with vital, no-cost services for pet and feral cats, such as spay/neuter surgeries, vaccines, microchips, and resources for outdoor feline management. Through their experience in Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) services, the organization has trapped nearly 4,000 feral cats, connected them to partner veterinarians to be spayed/neutered and vaccinated, and returned them to their territories. By formally uniting, Metro Denver CAT and the League are leveraging our combined resources and expertise to positively impact cats’ lives – both (very) near and far.

On a sweltering morning in June, Metro Denver CAT, the Dumb Friends League, and our partners at CSU Spur met in the darkest, lowest level of the Livestock Exchange Building to set humane traps filled with mackerel to lure the feline residents. These initial efforts ultimately led to one cat receiving vaccinations and a spay/neuter surgery at our nearby veterinary hospital before being returned to the colony. “We do not feel that these cats are ‘homeless’ or ‘stray,’” said Craig, Community Liaison for our Metro CAT Street Team. “[Truly] feral cats [often] prefer to live outside and can be happy and healthy doing so.”

Now, weeks later, Craig and the Street Team continue to check on the colony, setting traps for any remaining cats to receive the veterinary care they need. Spay/neuter services are a vital step in supporting feline well-being and quality of life. According to Craig, these procedures help prevent overpopulation, which, in turn, reduces the number of homeless cats brought to shelters and keeps feral cats from having to compete for food and resources during kitten season and all throughout the year.

The Dumb Friends League is thrilled to have experts from Metro Denver CAT on our team. By enriching our longtime partnership, the League will ensure the continued impact of this critical work for Denver’s owned and community cats – including those in our own backyard.

*Photo by Kevin Samuelson