Florida Southern College Builds “Dorms” for Cats
While college students these days may spend a little too much of their free time looking at cats in their free time, felines don’t tend to rank high among lists of dorm room essentials. That isn’t stopping officials at Florida Southern College from constructing Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired “dormitories” for cats on the college’s campus.
However, while the phrase “cat dorms” has caught on with students, it may not be the most accurate word to describe the buildings; the “dorms” in question are in fact a set of six small concrete structures, approximately five feet tall and three feet wide. FSC is currently building a tourism center on campus that use Wright’s usonian designs as an homage to the architect, who left the college many of his designs in his will, and materials leftover from the center’s construction will be used for what the college is referring to as “cat safes.”
So, why build houses for cats on a college? The answer lies in the sheer number of feral felines that have been roaming the campus and in the surrounding town of Lakeland, where an estimated 300,000 stray cats currently reside. With the local SPCA armed with $50,000 in grant money, the cat safes will double both as shelter and as a means of trapping the cats so they may be spayed or neutered, given shots for diseases like rabies, and tagged for later identification.
Alpha Chi Omega, a sorority at FSC, will be in charge of maintaining the cat safes, raising money for food and additional supplies, and otherwise aid the SPCA in providing care and aid to the stray animals.
“Right now they [the cats] are kind of on their own,” said Larissa Town, the vice president of philanthropy at Alpha Chi Omega and an FSC freshman. “They’re feral, so they’re afraid of us. They’re not aggressive or anything. They’re skittish.”
If successful, the spay and neutering program will help lower breeding rates among the feral cats, as well rerstrict where they roam, and, given the territorial nature of the animals, Terry Dennis, FSC’s vice president of operations, believes that these factors will lead to a decline in the number of cats sen at FSC and in Lakeland.
“The population over time will go down on its own,” said Dennis.
CORRECTION – 2/21/13:
According to Cary McMullen, publications editor at Florida Southern College, Frank Lloyd Wright’s design on the Usonian house was not left as part of his will. The plans instead come from when Wright designed the campus in the 1930s; the architect had envisioned 18 buildings for Florida Southern, but the Usonian house and 5 other buildings were never actually constructed. We apologize for the error.