The Birth of TNR at Stanford University

My son’s latest column in The Stanford Daily tells the fascinating story of how a small group of cat lovers saved 1,000 cats and, in the process, pioneered TNR on college campuses.

Thirty years ago, cat lovers at Stanford University stood up to the powers that be. They stood up the University Administration which wanted to round up and expel the cats who called the campus home. They stood up the county pound which killed “feral” cats. They stood up to the Humane Society of the United States which sided with both of them.

The cat lovers had student and staff support on their side. They had ethics on their side. They had science on their side. The had the progressive Palo Alto Humane Society on their side. And they had the ultimate ally: the wayward cat of the then-President of the University who ended up at one of their “unofficial” feeding stations. When they returned the cat to his home, they received not only a donation, but official recognition.

In 1989, the Stanford Cat Network was thus born (and with it, the organization that would introduce me to the cause that has defined my career: fighting for the rights of community and homeless animals).

SCN would go on to prove that TNR works, long before it became a field of study. They would help change the national dialog about feral cats both on and off college campuses. And because of their pioneering work, not only did other universities ultimately embrace community cat programs, so did HSUS.

Happy 30th anniversary to the Stanford Cat Network (recently rechristened as Feline Friends Network). And congratulations.


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