The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

A look behind the ‘Cats of El Camino’

Frankie the cat sits in a bench after finishing his treats given by Elliott at 6:30 a.m. in front of the bookstore. Photo credit: Alain Miranda

Every morning for the last few years there has been a group of people helping the cats roaming around campus.

The people behind ensuring the safety and health of each cat are the faculty, staff, students and community members who live nearby.

For over 20 years there have been a countless amount of volunteers dedicated to feeding and helping the cats around El Camino.

About 25 years ago EC hired a company to get rid of the cats on campus because they thought it would be best for students’ safety, Senior Clerical Assistant for the Facilities Department Debbie Turano said.

“Within about two years buildings were overrun with rats and mice,” Turano added.

But getting rid of the old gang of cats did not stop a new group of alley cats to take over EC, again.

Elliot pets cat.jpg
Elliot pets one of the two cats who were recently left on campus near the Communications building. This particular cat is in poor health and dealing with one bad eye Elliot said. Photo credit: Alba E. Mejia

“There’s something called the vacuum effect which means when you remove a colony of cats and there’s a food source, a new colony will establish itself,” Turano said.

It is nearly 7 a.m. and this cat named "Sunshine" sits by some bushes near the bookstore waiting for Momi Elliot to leave the vicinity. Photo credit: Alba E. Mejia

Alley Cat Allies is a global organization that advocates for the humane treatment of cats, and claims that “removing cats from an area by killing or relocating is not only cruel–it’s pointless.”

The El Camino Cat Care Volunteer Group ensures that each and every cat is taken care of with updated vaccination shots, food, and shelter.

Debbie Turano and her husband Carl Turano started this group around 4 years ago and have recruited people who they see feeding cats around campus.

People have been feeding cats on campus for over 20 years, Momi Elliot, one of the staff members who volunteers, said.

Momi Elliott
Momi Elliott bonding with the cats while feeding them by the Communications building at 6:00 a.m. Photo credit: Alain Miranda

Elliot has been feeding the cats for the past three years and goes through seven cans of cat food daily, she said.

She has even named some of the cats that she’s become acquainted with over the years.

There’s a specific cat who everyone calls “Frankie,” but Elliot calls him “Bella,” because she think’s he is the feisty one of the group who defends what is his.

Just like Elliot there have been student workers in the Humanities Division that have named the cats as well.

Cat with the bad eye
One of the cats in poor condition that Momi takes care of in her morning routine. This one has a damaged right eye. In the past she has taken three of many injured cats left on campus home. Photo credit: Alain Miranda

One of the cats was named “Don Cornelius” after the television host for “Soul Train” who died a few years ago, Elise Geraghty, Associate Dean of Humanities, said.

None of the cats on campus have collars that identify them because most of them were either born on campus or have lived here so long they are recognizable by their caretakers, Debbie Turano said.

The EC Cat Care Volunteer Group has a GoFundMe page which people can use to donate to support the wellbeing and daily care of the cats.

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