Feral kitten incites campus-wide frenzy

Sophomores bitten, Public Safety captures wrong cat

On Saturday, Oct. 20, St. Olaf Public Safety captured a feral kitten believed to have bitten two sophomores earlier that day, but three days later, the students confirmed that officers nabbed the wrong cat.

Two female students were bitten on their hands when they tried to extract a kitten from one of the dumpsters near Larson Hall on Saturday morning, the women said.

They transported themselves to the Northfield Hospital emergency room, at which point medical professionals contacted Public Safety, who began searching for the animal.

Public Safety Capt. Chad Christiansen sent out an email to the student body, urging students to be careful and keep an eye out for the kitten as they walked around campus.

“Try to maintain the location of [the cat], but do not try to catch [it] yourselves,” Christiansen wrote. “This kitten needs to be quarantined and observed for 10 days to determine if it has rabies.”

Director of Public Safety Fred Behr and Christiansen spent the afternoon searching for the kitten, but were unsuccessful.

With only “two sets of eyes, it could be tough to spot,” Behr said.

Around 6:30 p.m., Karen Berglund ’13 and Julie Pokaski ’13 spotted a kitten near the library and reported the sighting to Public Safety.

“I think it was pretty apparent that nobody wanted to get bit, so even the [Public] Safety officer didn’t really know what to do,” Pokaski said. “So we stayed, sat down and watched the cat.”

Students dining in Stav Hall watched the scene unfold.

After spying a Public Safety vehicle driving across the quad, students rushed to the southern window.

“I had no idea what they were doing until somebody shouted, ‘It’s the cat!'” David Hastings ’14 said. Two students had seemingly cornered the kitten, he said. Onlookers let out a cheer as Officer James Golden closed in on the kitten, but the animal escaped.

When the kitten crawled into a drainage pipe between the library and Holland Hall, Golden was able to pick it up in a live trap borrowed from the City of Northfield, Behr said. Then, shortly after 8:30 p.m., the Northfield Police Department came to transport the animal to Countryside Animal Hospital and Kennels, 708 Schilling Drive, Dundas.

On Tuesday, the two female bite victims were contacted by the Northfield Police Department and asked to identify the animal at Countryside.

Though the quarantined kitten appeared to be about the same size and age as the suspect animal, it was not the correct kitten. The captured animal was solid orange, and the animal that bit the women was both orange and white, they said.

On Wednesday, Public Safety set up two more live traps around campus in an attempt to catch the correct kitten.

“This may take a few days or even weeks,” according to Behr.

The force borrowed these live traps, too. Public Safety does not have live traps of its own because animals are “not a huge problem” on campus, Officer Scott Trebelhorn said. This is the first time an incident like this has occurred in his seven years as a public safety officer at St. Olaf.

The feral kittens believed trail.

Public Safety is clear about its message to students in regard to non-domestic animals on campus: “Leave the animals alone – they’ll be fine,” Trebelhorn said. “Stay away from them and call us. That’s the best bet.”

Behr added that wild animals do not need students’ help or rescue efforts.

“Just call us,” he said. “[Animals] are pretty resilient. Usually, if they get in something, they’ll get back out.”

Public Safety can be reached at 507-786-3666.

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