Thomas is logical at his core. He enjoys brewing his own beer. He loves his pets and wouldn’t mind growing old surrounded by his feline friends. Efficiency is a focus, he likes things that are quick and convenient. When he thinks about the future he is excited to conquer any adventure and bend the rules to get what he wants.
Remember the first time you tried to explain to your roommate why hiding a cat in your dorm room was a bad idea. I had recently been adopted by one of the neighborhood felines – a proud long-haired tuxedo we affectionately named Kisa – but unfortunately, the residence building I lived in had a strict ‘No Pets’ rule. As hard as it was to explain that to Kisa (who now believed she owned the apartment), it was even harder to explain that fact to my girlfriend.
“Honey, I love Kisa, but the housing contract is explicit! It says no animals allowed!” I explained desperately.
“Oh yeah? Then how did you ever move in here, then?” Was her retort.
Within minutes, it was settled. My roommates were all in love with Kisa, and they also did not want to anger my girlfriend (who was, at the time, single-handedly responsible for the cleanliness and organization of our man cave). Thus began my journey to keeping an ‘undocumented animal resident’ in my university-approved housing for the next two years.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, the following advice may come in handy. Full disclaimer: we do not encourage you to violate your campus housing agreement in any way – that’s serious stuff, and you could get kicked out of your apartment for it! This blog post is for research purposes only, and no animals were hurt (or put at risk!) in researching it.
1. Never bring a cat into your dorm without talking to your roommates about it.
This is critical! Because both you and your room/housemates will be on the hook if your kitty ever gets caught, it is imperative that you have this discussion with them before adopting (or being adopted by) any potential cat companion. Be honest and upfront with them, and if they say no, then respect their wishes. While you may be able to hide your cat from an RA, you’ll never be able to hide her from your roommates.
2. The first rule of cat club is to not talk about cat club. To anyone.
Don’t mention them on social media, don’t tell the cute girl who just moved next door, and especially, don’t ever write an essay for a college class about your clandestine cat. I know, this is a tough one, but it’s critically important. The fewer people who know, the better.
The only people that should know about your private pet are your roommates and, in my case, my girlfriend. Beyond that, it’s best to pretend that your cat companion doesn’t exist.
3. Keep your cat’s clues to a minimum
Things like a food and water bowl or a litter box are dead giveaways to RA’s and landlords, so don’t leave them in plain sight. Closets can be a good place for both, but make sure that you are regularly staying on top of scooping your cat’s litter. Nobody likes the smell of a dirty litter box, and no amount of dirty dorm room socks can hide that odor from the nose of a discerning RA. Bottom line: keep obvious cat clues out of sight and out of mind.
4. Prepare a backup plan in case your situation changes dramatically.
Adopting an animal is serious business for any person, and even more serious in a situation as tenuous as college life. Make sure that you have a good backup plan if you need to suddenly part ways with your campus kitty. This could include taking them to a no kill shelter (you can find one nearby to you by going here.) or just leaving them at a friend or relative’s house if you need to temporarily vacate your college residence.
5. Have the heart to do the right thing for your kitten – even if that means giving him or her up
Some cats will naturally adjust very comfortably to dorm life – they keep a low profile, hide as necessary, and don’t having annoying or destructive behaviors (like loud meowing or marking). Others might just not be cut-out for the college life.
My first attempt at adopting a cat came two years before Kisa adopted me. When one of my roommates brought home a beautiful tabby, our whole apartment fell in love instantly. She was smart, curious, and very playful. She also had the habit of cry-meowing loudly to herself whenever she was left alone.
As much as we wanted to keep Dr. Snuggles, we all knew that the best thing for her (and for us!) would be to re-home her. Dr. Snuggles ended up moving to Colorado Springs to live with my little brother, where she was kept company by his two other cats. The more the merrier!
Years later, Kisa is a happy kitty and a valuable member of our family. She’s sometimes annoyed by our dog, but I secretly think she’s fond of her. Most importantly, she’s happy that she no longer needs to hide under the bed every time the landlord comes by. Do you have a story about keeping a secret cat in college? Share it below!
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