The purrks and clawbacks of cat ownership

Photo courtesy of Corey Schaadt

Being a college student means being busy just about all day, every day. From school to work to homework to meetings, there are very few of those brief moments students have to take care of themselves.

Does this overload of responsibilities prevent students taking on the ones associated with becoming pet owners? And is it even possible for students to take care of another living creature while trying to take care of themselves?

Many students have found cats to be one of the easier pets to own in college. In fact, a Washington Post article stated that cats outnumber dogs by as many as three-to-one in popularity. This could be because felines are typically more independent than their canine counterparts, however that doesn’t mean owning one will be a breeze.

Challenges of having a cat at home

Corey Schaadt, senior in public relations, is a full-time student. Though his cat, King Leonidas, might have a mighty name, Schaadt said he is not very independent.

“He is very needy,” Schaadt said. “He has intense attachment problems; he has to be with me all the time and cries when I leave.”

Lacey Cole, senior in business marketing, said one of the biggest and only challenges she faces as a cat owner is when she goes home for the weekend or during breaks because her cat, Percy, hates being in the car.

Willie Davila, Manhattan and Riley County supervisor at the animal shelter, said he owned a cat while he was in college.

“I learned that cats are curious and love to explore,” Davila said. “Especially sitting on the pages of my calculus book when (I was) studying for a test or adding a few paw prints to my art project.”

Landlord issues

Davila moved several times while in college and said it is important to know the landlord’s rules and regulations before deciding where to live with a pet. He always made a point to understand the lease and how owning a cat may affect the contract requirements.

“Animals are property, and as such the landlord also assumes responsibility if the tenant no longer occupies the premises,” Davila said.

Schaadt said he normally hides his cats from his landlords.

“Most of my landlords either don’t allow pets, or have an outrageous fee for keeping cats there,” Schaadt said.

Cole said even though both of the houses she has lived in don’t allow animals, it hasn’t been an issue since her cat is outside a lot of the time.

“She’s an indoor-outdoor cat,” Cole said.

Cat care

Davila said there are many factors students should consider before purchasing a cat.

“Anyone considering adding a cat to their daily life should always consider their lifestyle, responsibility and home stability,” he said.

Davila also said that veterinary care is very important. All pets require it. It is especially important for owners to get health evaluation on their new furry friend before bringing it around others.

“The last thing I wanted to do was bring a sick kitty and pass it on to my other ones,” Davila said.

If a student goes on vacation, Davila has some tips for giving a cat the best care it can have.

“It is best to have two pet sitters: one for even days and another on odd days,” he said.

Davila said that by doing this, an owner guarantees that their cat will be taken care of. If one of the sitters is sick or fails to check up on the cat, there will be a back-up.

Be sure to always provide the sitter with the cat’s medical contact information and health records.

“Never, ever leave a pet behind or abandon your pet,” Davila said. “It is a death sentence, and it is a felony in Kansas.”

Why own a cat?

“There are so many benefits I could probably go on forever,” Cole said. “It’s nice to come home when you have had a bad day and have something that will always make you feel better.”

One of the reasons Davila does the job he does today is for the love of his first cat; it was when he discovered that felines are great and faithful friends.

“A cat that is in sync with me has always give the joy of having that special bond and have a great friend in this journey we call life,” Davila said.

To Schaadt, if a students is able to financially support another animal’s life then there shouldn’t be an issue in owning a cat. All in all these animals are cheap to provide for and are good company, even when they tear up all your stuff.

“In the end it’s all worth it, because even if they don’t always show it, they love you unconditionally,” Schaadt said.

Getting Leo was one of the best decisions Schaadt said he has made in a long time, and that he loves him “more than rainbows.”