What’s Up South Texas! Two women give the name ‘cat lady’ a new, productive meaning

Mary Gustine and Jane Mashburn have been trapping and tending to cats for over three years

San Antonio – Two ladies living at the Army Residence Community are giving the name “cat lady” a whole new and productive meaning.

They trap, spay and neuter neighborhood cats, strays, and feral cats before releasing them back into the community.

Jane Mashburn and Mary Gustine started their campus’s cat program back in 2018.

“Our program has several levels,” said Gustine. “Jane found a need for taking care of the cats here on campus because ARC has been in existence for about 35 years or so. There have been strays and feral and neighborhood cats ever since and they need to be managed.”

“Before we started the program, I started feeding the strays I would see on the property because I have a tremendous love for cats,” Mashburn said. “I was glad I met Mary because she wanted to help out innocent animals too.”

So far, the two women have been able to trap, spay and neuter over 23 cats and have fostered and adopted out over 40 kittens.

“We use several outlets for the kittens,” Gustine said. “Sometimes, residents or staff adopt them.”

They also work closely with no-kill shelters.

“Because cats that are feral, if they are turned into a pound, about 70% of them are put down,” Gustine said. “We only turn them into no-kill shelters like the Animal Defense League.”

Both women are in their 70s now but have always loved the feline species.

“My sister and my brother and myself all love cats,” Mashburn said. “I have had them since I was old enough to know what they were. My sister and I used to push them around in doll buggies. To me, a cat is a special thing.”

The duo has created feeding stations on the campus for cats to come and when it is time to trap a cat they’ve noticed around the community, it can be challenging.

“There are times when you trap a big tomcat to be taken in to be neutered, it can be very difficult for us to lift and tug the traps we use,” Gustine laughed.

They used humane traps for the cats that have been approved.

“We’ve all gone through the program of learning how to be trappers,” Gustine said. “And that program is run by the Animal Defense League by the San Antonio Feral Cat Coalition.”

Once the cats are spayed or neutered, its left ear is clipped, identifying them as a fixed cat.

That’s how they know which cats they’ve trapped, and which cat still needs medical attention.

“Jane and I both own left ear-clipped cats because we sponsored them and we just couldn’t let them go,” Gustine said.

They said their biggest message for everyone is to spay and neuter their pets to better maintain the animal population.

“If there are too many cats, then anything bad could happen to them,” Mashburn said. “They could get run over by a car, they could get attacked by a larger animal. Anything. We have to be better about taking care of them and have to be humane about it. We are all creatures who live on this Earth and who were created in the same way. We all deserver a better life here.”

It is costly to run their program, which is totally funded by donations.

If you would like to help with a donation, you can call the Army Residence Community at (210)-646-5300.

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About the Authors:

Japhanie Gray joined 10 News as an anchor in March 2022.

Joe Arredondo is a photojournalist at KSAT 12.