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Inside April 22, 2003's Issue




Factory Farming


Loved Ones Overseas


Spring Fling


Grave on campus explained

By Daniel Bell

Those who sometimes use the back exit from the central campus of Georgia Highlands College may have noticed a white cross marking a grave just in the edge of the woods across from the Plant Operations Building. Written on this makeshift headstone is the name “Tom.”

Tom's graveTom was a polydactyl cat that used to call Georgia Highlands College home. Polydactyl means “having extra toes,” and in Tom’s case, that meant six toes on both of his front feet.

“He just showed up one morning,” said Ken Lewis, skills trade worker and employee of Physical Plant. Lewis and Herman Fitzgerald, grounds department, began feeding and taking care of the black and white tomcat.

According to Fitzgerald, “Tom was a friendly cat,” and it is his belief that Tom was once someone’s pet.

“Tom wasn’t shy. He was a lap cat,” agreed Lewis. Lewis affectionately described the cat’s extra toes as looking like “catcher’s mitts,” while Fitzgerald said they looked like “snowshoes.”

Tom lived on the FC campus for about a year and a half and would have eventually lived with Lewis.

“I was going to take him home with me once I finished building my new house,” said Lewis. “But he died two weeks too early.”

Tom died almost a year ago because he had feline AIDS and feline leukemia. Currently there is no available treatment for feline AIDS.

To honor their six-toed companion, Fitzgerald and Lewis built a little casket and brought stones from Indian Mountain to encircle the grave.

“We just couldn’t put Tom in a hole,” said Lewis looking back. “We are going to make a concrete headstone too.”

Since then the two have regularly pulled weeds and cleaned up debris from the Tom’s grave.

As additional tribute to Tom the six-toed cat, Lewis said he has a new cat at his house that he calls “Tom 2.”

Tom the six-toed cat“Not only people need help,” said Lewis. “We have taken care of lots of animals over the past ten years.”

Fitzgerald said he once took home a dog that had wandered up. The dog then gave birth to 11 puppies. “The important thing,” he said, “is to make people aware.”

According to Lewis one of the biggest problems around the campus is people polluting the lake and its surroundings.

“There is a one-legged duck here that lost its leg because it got tangled up in some fishing line,” he said. “There are trashcans all around the lake, yet we see trash lying on the ground right next to them.”

Fitzgerald and Lewis have taken care of many dogs and cats over the years. What’s more, they pay for everything the animals need out of their own pockets.

“There was a black lab once,” said Lewis, “that had a broken leg. We took up money, and it cost $551 (to treat the dog).” Lewis said the Humane Society helped out a great deal with “Black Dog” and that the Humane Society has foster homes for stray pets.

“They take animals and put them in foster homes until they can find something permanent,” said Lewis.

For now, a white cross with the name “Tom” stands as a monument to the beloved six-toed cat of the FC Physical Plant.


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