Is bringing your cat to college a bad idea?

WolfenLynx

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My parents want me to bring my cat with me to college after my freshman year if I could afford to live in a separate apartment or something like that. Now I am having second thoughts. My cat is very anxious and I'm not sure how well she would do if she moved, especially into a smaller home. I also don't know if it would be ok for me to be so busy. I would definitely play with her and take care of her as much as possible, but I have been hearing horror stories of people abusing their cats in college.

On the other hand, she would probably enjoy being able to have her own territory away from our other cat. But then again I'm not living there permanently...

She's very attached to me so I'm not sure how she'll react when I dissapear.

I don't know how to explain to my parents that I changed my mind, I hope they will take care of her, I told them to play with her and they don't seem to fancy the idea of me leaving her behind- since she's supposed to be "my cat"

I have serious anxiety issues so I *might* get her registered as an emotional support animal. Still though, after reading tons of stuff online about how evil college girls torture their cats, I don't want people thinking I'm evil for bringing my cat with me and being a girl.
 

maggie101

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Cat will be happier being with their owner. You take care of her and give lots of tlc
 

sanfran_kitty_lady_21

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My friend adopted her cat her second year of college. Since undergrad she went back to school to complete pre-med courses, then went to med school, now is in her residency...that cat has easily moved every other year is not twice in some years. So is it a bad idea all together? No, it's not, and sometimes that's just life. But I think you need to include a plan with your cat along with your moving plan.

Some things I would suggest thinking through:
-are your roommates ready to have a cat? If you have a cat, they also have a cat. If she tends to scratch furniture, their furniture is also at risk. If she knocks stuff off counters, that will also include their stuff. Her stuff needs to be around the house (like scratchers and liter boxes) to avoid behavioral problems. So your roommates need to 1) know what it means to live with a cat and 2) be clear on what's their responsibility versus yours. For example, my friend's cat recently had anal glad issues so everyone in the house was making sure the cat wasn't licking her behind. Where are your roommates expected to help if any?
-having a cat will make finding housing harder and could result in higher rent or higher deposits. Is that something that works on your budget?
-people abusing cats: again, I think this is something you need to check with your roommates. There are a lot of people who left their cats at home and they will probably love your cat like it was their cat. So finding roommates who love cats or animals will make sure none of your roommates abuse your cat. Or roommates your trust - that may also work. Abusing cats is not a college thing, it's specific to people who don't recognize (or care) that the animal has emotions and trauma.
-speaking of roommates - do you think roommates will work for your cats (people actually sharing the room) or are you limited to apartment/house mates?
-I think you could keep your room as home base (where your cat feels most comfortable) but it's going to be hard to not have her in other spots. Like if you're in the living room, your cat will want to me in the living room. So you'll need to make sure you have cat trees, scratchers, blankets in those parts of the house to help her feel comfortable.
-Anxiety: I have an anxious cat too. I recently purchased Stress Stopper from Jackson Galaxy. It's more of a natural thing than medication? I was skeptical but OMG I saw a massive difference when I had someone over and my cat wasn't terrified. Might be worth trying while your cat is adjusting to living with you and new people.
-My last tip: having a cat, without family support, is a lot of responsibility. Cats do get lonely and scared, you know this. But college is a time to have fun and be a little more irresponsible and spontaneous (I had my share of fun in college). This is not to say that you should not bring your cat with you, but this is just to remind you that you'll have to give up some fun moments to take care of your cat. If your cat is sick, you might have to miss out on a party to monitor her in the evening. You'll need to come home after studying all night at the library to feed and play with your cat. Just some things to start planning for.

I completely believe you can be a great cat guardian as a college student, you just need to plan for it.
 
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WolfenLynx

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My friend adopted her cat her second year of college. Since undergrad she went back to school to complete pre-med courses, then went to med school, now is in her residency...that cat has easily moved every other year is not twice in some years. So is it a bad idea all together? No, it's not, and sometimes that's just life. But I think you need to include a plan with your cat along with your moving plan.

Some things I would suggest thinking through:
-are your roommates ready to have a cat? If you have a cat, they also have a cat. If she tends to scratch furniture, their furniture is also at risk. If she knocks stuff off counters, that will also include their stuff. Her stuff needs to be around the house (like scratchers and liter boxes) to avoid behavioral problems. So your roommates need to 1) know what it means to live with a cat and 2) be clear on what's their responsibility versus yours. For example, my friend's cat recently had anal glad issues so everyone in the house was making sure the cat wasn't licking her behind. Where are your roommates expected to help if any?
-having a cat will make finding housing harder and could result in higher rent or higher deposits. Is that something that works on your budget?
-people abusing cats: again, I think this is something you need to check with your roommates. There are a lot of people who left their cats at home and they will probably love your cat like it was their cat. So finding roommates who love cats or animals will make sure none of your roommates abuse your cat. Or roommates your trust - that may also work. Abusing cats is not a college thing, it's specific to people who don't recognize (or care) that the animal has emotions and trauma.
-speaking of roommates - do you think roommates will work for your cats (people actually sharing the room) or are you limited to apartment/house mates?
-I think you could keep your room as home base (where your cat feels most comfortable) but it's going to be hard to not have her in other spots. Like if you're in the living room, your cat will want to me in the living room. So you'll need to make sure you have cat trees, scratchers, blankets in those parts of the house to help her feel comfortable.
-Anxiety: I have an anxious cat too. I recently purchased Stress Stopper from Jackson Galaxy. It's more of a natural thing than medication? I was skeptical but OMG I saw a massive difference when I had someone over and my cat wasn't terrified. Might be worth trying while your cat is adjusting to living with you and new people.
-My last tip: having a cat, without family support, is a lot of responsibility. Cats do get lonely and scared, you know this. But college is a time to have fun and be a little more irresponsible and spontaneous (I had my share of fun in college). This is not to say that you should not bring your cat with you, but this is just to remind you that you'll have to give up some fun moments to take care of your cat. If your cat is sick, you might have to miss out on a party to monitor her in the evening. You'll need to come home after studying all night at the library to feed and play with your cat. Just some things to start planning for.

I completely believe you can be a great cat guardian as a college student, you just need to plan for it.
Thank you very much. All of these points are definitely going to help me in my decision on if it's viable for me to take her.
 

Elphaba09

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Are you going to have roommates? If not, there is no concern over her being abused, unless you throw a party and have a bunch of people over. (Something tells me that will not happen. I mean that as a compliment.)

As for time, it really depends on how you manage your time and your class schedule. If it gives you any comfort, I worked full time, had two children (ages 9 and 2 my freshman year), had three cats and one dog, drove an hour and a half both ways to go to school, and had a 22 credit hour course load most semesters in classes with heavy ready requirements. (I graduated summa cum laude with a 3.9 GPA.) I then finished my master's degree in a year and a half with a 4.0. I am just okay with managing my time. I am a fast reader and really good at pushing out assignments right before the deadline! Hahaha!

Would I recommend it? HEX NO! I was insane to do that to myself. However, my point is that I made time for my children, my cats, and my dog while keeping that schedule. If you are at all okay with time management, you will have plenty of time with your cat. I promise. She can be a great source of much-needed calm during study and homework breaks. She might even remind you to give yourself breaks.

Do you see a therapist for your anxiety? If so, see if you can get them to write something up about you needing an emotional support animal. While they do not get the same protection under the law as service animals, your landlord might be more accommodating if you have the recommendation. There is no need to get her registered because it is unnecessary. She is not being trained to provide you with service (and cats are not legally permitted to be service animals), nor can your landlord ask you to show that she is registered. They can only ask to see proof from your therapist that you require an ESA. (These are federal guidelines, so check with your state to be safe.)
 

LTS3

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It would depend if you move into a dorm room or an off campus apartment on your own and if you have roommates or not. Most dorm rooms are pretty small unless you share a room with like 3 people or live in a recently renovated or newly built dorm building that are basically like mini hotels. Freshman aren't usually allowed to live in a single dorm room but there may be exceptions. Check with your college for specifics and if pets are allowed or not.

Roommates can be iffy, even in off campus apartments. Some will do whatever they want even if you tell them not to and set rules (applies to all things that goes along with sharing a space together). The people they bring over to hang out or whatever can be iffy too.

If you can afford a pet friendly off campus apartment on your own without roommates, that would be the best way to have your cat with you. Don't forget to budget for food and vet care, especially expensive emergency vet care, and any transportation cost to get to and from the vet (Uber / Lyft, taxi, public transportation, etc). You'll be busy with classes and activities, maybe a job, but your cat will be fine as long as you spend some time when you are at home to play and give attention. There's some suggestions here to: How To Make Your Home Bigger (at Least For Your Cats) – TheCatSite Articles

After college, do you plan to return home with your cat? Re-introducing the two cats may be difficult because they will no longer recognize each other. You'll have to keep the two separate and do a slow introduction.

ESAs are a complicated topic. Some colleges may not even allow those. You can't "register" an ESA. There is no such registry. You can only get a doctor's written letter that indicates that you need the pet for emotional support. FWIW, I had anxiety issues in college. I left my cat at home with my parents. I managed the anxiety fairly well without medication by getting involved in various activities my major offered and having a small group of friends I could rely on. And I did sneak a pet gerbil into my single dorm room :wink: Check out the activities your college offers. Craft groups, book clubs, gardening group, volunteer activities, etc. If your college is in an urban area, check our local places to volunteer your time at such as an animal shelter or museum. It doesn't have to be directly interacting with the public.
 

ArtNJ

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It wouldnt be just the change of moving there (for a cat you described as nervous). Because what about Christmas break? Summer break? Bringing the cat back and forth is potentially a *lot* of stress for the cat -- cats don't travel well. And there would likely even be some readjustment to the family home. Also, even if your off campus, and you are picking your roommates, sometimes one roommate will flake out and you might get a replacewment you don't know well. Sometimes its the boyfriend/girlfriend of the roommates thats the weirdo -- my daughter has that now!

I personally don't think its a great idea.
 

sunny578

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I brought my animals with me to college (a tortoise and a cat.) I think some cats can adjust well, and others have a harder time. It sounds like your parents might not want to take on the cat, so if you decide that you can't take her quite yet, it might help if you offered a date in the future when you think you could. If she's bonded with you and you are a conscientious care giver (which it sounds like you are!) I think it could be just fine. I always liked having the company.
 

WillowMarie

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My cat came with me to school and worked well for me. She is a huge emotional support for me, too. We spent the first semester in a tiny dorm room (luckily no roommate assigned and lived alone) and upgraded to a tiny house after that. It was hard on Isabelle at times as she was used to living in a two story house with other people. She is very sociable. Outside of my classes, work study, and self-care taking hikes or sitting outside, the rest of my time was spent in my dorm. That worked for me as I need quiet time on my own to recharge and spend a lot of time studying and doing school work. Even so, Isabelle was showing some signs of stress about halfway or more through the semester.

I played with her more and rotated and rearranged the furniture, cat toys, and cat furniture and scratchers to help give more stimulation. She also enjoyed looking out the window as it looked out onto the main room on campus and she could watch people walk by. It helped, and also know she enjoyed having more space once we upgraded to the tiny house. I was also able to keep a bird feeder there and take her for leashed walks with her harness on since we had a yard.

The drive was also 12 hours split between two days going to school and back, and Isabelle (and my other two cats I have now) did fine making the trip, even though a bit stressed.

If you have roommates, this is also something to consider, esp. if there is specific precautions with your cat. Such as mine cannot have access to hair ties or rubberbands because they will try and eat them and two of my cats have asthma, so no scents can be used around them. Also, leaving food out is a no no and food in bags that smell good may attract her and she'd rip the bag open. It would be important to pick a roommate who feels comfortable with a cat and would also respect any boundaries you have regarding cat care and treatment. Better to discuss these things before they move in, so they can decide if it is something they can tolerate or not. :)

Hope that helps some. If it would be helpful for you having your cat with you and you're willing to make it work, there are ways to make it happen and find ways to make it work for your kitty.
 
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