Behind the Story: Cal Poly Cat Program


The Cal Poly Cat Program was founded in 1992 as a result of a population of nearly 400 feral cats roaming Cal Poly’s Campus.

The population of cats were on campus for two primary reasons; The Agriculture department brought cats to campus for pest control, and people began abandoning their cats on campus.

Since then, the Cal Poly Cat Program has gotten the feral cat population under control and has turned into more of a shelter for cats. Since 1992 the program has found nearly 3,000 homes for cats.

How the Cal Poly Cat Program found group 3:

When sitting in class two weeks back, our group set out online in search of a story. When we caught wind of the Cal Poly Cat Program, it was too hard to pass up.

One of the members of our group came across a story in Mustang News, written three years back.

“It was fascinating to see a whole other world that exists on Cal Poly’s campus that most people don’t get to see,” said Alyssa Mavor.

Two days after choosing the story topic,  Emily Fagenstrom had set up interviews with the director of the program, Sharon Dobson, and some volunteers.

That following Sunday, Emily and Max Goldberg paid the on campus program a visit. After their visit, Emily had this to say:

“It’s been great getting to know some of the volunteers at the program. You can tell they all really care about the cats and work hard to make sure they’re taken care of.”

Max also had great things to say about the program:

“As a cat owner and lover, getting to visit cats on campus and learn about the Cal Poly Cat Program has been a thoroughly enjoyable project for me. It’s nice to know that so many generous volunteers and helpers are working hard daily to ensure these cats have a shelter and eventually a permanent home.”

Interview with Sharon Dobson:

Emily sat down with Dobson, who has been with the program since it’s start.

Emily was struck with how much of Dobson’s life is spent on ensuring the program carries out its duties.

Dobson also gave Emily a history of the program, and how it has transformed since 1992.

“We were so successful with trapping cats, socializing them and finding them good homes, that just inspired us to do more,” said Dobson, “I feel like it gives me a lot of purpose.”

After talking to Dobson, and meeting with Professor Lisagor-Bisheff, Emily realized that this cat story couldn’t be about Whiskers and how fluffy and cute he is. This story needed to take a serious angle on the ins and outs of the cat program and the problems that arise with feral cats, and feral cat populations.

Emily got to re-editing her story quickly after coming to this realization.

The final piece will hopefully be well-received by the Mustang News staff, and make it’s way to Mustang News.