Wah Yan College
New home for stray cats
By Veronica Ho
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The idea for college cats, or keeping cats in schools and having students look after them, originated in Cambridge University in England.
Students at Wah Yan College adopted the idea after a black cat, which the students later named Mr. M, showed up at their school in 1993.
Mr. Tsang Ho Man, public communication manager of Wah Yan College Cats, is a Form 5 student.
At first, we just fed the cats every day voluntarily. Afterwards, more cats came and more students joined our team, said he.
Mr. Tsang said that there are now altogether eight cats in the school, but he said there were once more than 50.
Mr. Tsang said, Our cats reproduced rapidly and we did not have enough resources for them. Therefore, we had our cats sterilized.
Wah Yan College Cats did not have any financial aid from school at that time. Members had to pay for cat food and cages. They designed cards for sale to raise funds.
With students efforts and the help of their teacher advisor, Mrs. Ivy Ip, Wah Yan College Cats became an official organisation in 1997.
Teachers then began to donate money to the organisation and the students managed to find a room in the school for their cats.
According to Mr. Tsang, the organisation is not just a group of students sharing the same interests in cats. He said the organisation involves management, responsibility and communication.
For example, all members have their own duties, such as feeding the cats, playing with them, sweeping up hair, removing their droppings and cleaning the floor.
Said Mr. Tsang: Information of our activities, health conditions of the cats and financial reports are published in our monthly newsletters.
Mr. Kevin Fung, a member of Wah Yan College Cats, said, Members also have to bring the cats to the animal clinic for medical checkups.
He said he had an unforgettable experience of taking a cat to the clinic.
Some classmates and I waited for more than an hour in the clinic. My classmates then left one by one and left behind me at last.
After the checkup, I took the cat back to school alone, like holding a pizza that weighs 10 pounds, he said. I was totally exhausted when I arrived at school after a 30-minute walk from the clinic.
Mrs. Ip said that their members have the responsibilities to promote the idea of caring about animals as it is important to teach more students how to love the things around them.
However, Mr. Tsang said that cat abuse did happen in their school and made them aware of the safety of the cats.
Said he: When I arrived at school one day, I saw a cat lying on the floor with severe wounds in its head. It died. And we were even threatened by a schoolmate who claimed that he would form a group to kill our cats.
Ms Shiran Lo, spokesman of Hong Kong Cat Salvation Army, pointed out that students should be taught to regard the cats as their school members.
Students should be taught that we human beings should have a friendly relationship with these little creatures, said she.
She also said if students who break the school rules were punished, students who kill cats should be punished also.
Many members of Wah Yan College Cats have joined since Form 1 or 2. They grow up with the cats, and they learn how to take care of cats from higher forms students.
Said Ms. Lo: We have developed a good tradition that every member knows how to love animals.
Besides, taking care of the cats in the school, Wah Yan College Cats also helps find homes for cats.
Wah Yan College Cats is the pioneer to promote the cat-loving culture among schools in Hong Kong. They are now applying for the Quality Education Fund for its operation.
Ms Lo said, It is such a meaningful organization. The idea of college cats should be brought to more people.
Members of Wah Yan College Cats learn to treat cats like their friends through taking care of the eight cats living in the school. (Veronica Ho)