Cat Condo memorial in MJ’s name

ILLUSTRATION BY MATT MAEDA

ILLUSTRATION BY MATT MAEDA

Imagine a place where cats being treated by the veterinary technician program can rest and recover in comfort.

That is the possible future memorial to celebrate and remember MJ Lewis, an animal lover and a memorable teacher.

Lewis, a WCC speech teacher from 1997 to 2014, passed away suddenly in May of 2014. She had been a supporter of the vet tech program from the very beginning.

English teacher Desi Poteet described Lewis as “sensitive and compassionate.” She said MJ never met an animal she didn’t like and also had a soft spot for the chickens on campus.

“It (the cat condo) seemed logical to honor her in that way,” Poteet added. “The support from faculty and staff has been so generous with their money and time.”

Initially, the goal was to raise $750 to name a “Cat Condo” in MJ’s honor for five years, but to date a total of $4,000 has been raised.

The Language Arts department and the vet tech program hope to continue raising funds until reaching the ultimate goal of $10,000 to establish an endowment and a permanent Cat Condo in MJ’s name, among other needs for the program.

The majority of the cats under the care of the vet tech program are shelter animals; the rest are feral cats. The program provides X-rays, dental cleanings and extractions, blood work and physical examinations, nail trims and spay and neuter surgeries.

The program improves the health of the cats, reduces the population and increases the chances of cats being adopted at shelters, said biology professor Ross Langston.

MJ Lewis

MJ Lewis, former speech professor at WCC, who passed away in May 2014.

In addition to raising funds to remember MJ, the endowment will also help expand the vet tech program and provide supplies and tests as well.

The cats will be kept in the condo (cages) while in a dedicated cat room. The condos are separated between a living room, bathroom, and perches, where the cats can hang out.

The condos must be constructed with stainless steel to be cleaned easily. Each cat requires at least 4 square feet of space, and facilities must meet other federal requirements similar to those for lab animals.

The WCC veterinary technology as well as the veterinary assisting program is the only college-level training currently available for vet paraprofessionals in the Pacific.

The monetary donations have helped maintain training for one of the fastest-growing career fields in the nation.

by Madison Cole, Ka ‘Ohana Staff Reporter