HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Officials at Chaminade University decided to ban the feeding of feral cats on campus due to safety and liability concerns. The school discontinued its authorized feeding program nearly three weeks ago, but the challenge is trying to change human behavior.
Stephanie Nipp was an authorized feeder until the university's ban began. She helped trap the felines to have them spayed or neutered.
"There's not enough rodents or insects on that campus to feed all 120 of them. Now I really worry. I worry about the plight of what their outcome is going to be, their life," said Nipp.
But the university says that estimate is exaggerated. According to school officials, unauthorized feeders put out unwanted food overnight which becomes a slippery hazard. One feeder also slipped and broke her arm on campus.
"The increased feral population has also meant an uptick of fleas and cat feces in and around our buildings. So recently there was a liability issue that became more apparent when one of the cat feeders seriously injured herself," said Kapono Ryan, Chaminade's director of communications.
Chaminade is also asking people to stop abandoning their pets. Officials said the feral cats still on campus will be monitored and treated humanely.
"Whatever cats supposedly the foundation said were here have pretty much disappeared, not because we forced them out or anything. They just kind of don't seem to be around," said Ryan.
"You cannot just say don't feed them and they're going to go away. They're going to go away to somebody else for another problem," Nipp said.
The volunteer cat caretakers pay for the food and the sterilization services. An online petition called "Save the Feral Cats at Chaminade University" now has more than 1,000 signatures.
There are an estimated 300,000 feral cats on Oahu, according to a study conducted for the Hawaiian Humane Society. Over at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, there are about 220 felines using 14 authorized feeding stations on campus.
"There are groups of people who feel that it's our duty to care for these animals, but I think the university would like to see the colonies reduced," said Roxanne Adams, director of buildings and grounds.
Volunteer caretakers help catch the unsterilized cats and release them after they've been spayed or neutered.
"If people didn't abandon cats, then people wouldn't feed them, and if people didn't feed them, they wouldn't congregate then populate in such high numbers," said Adams.