It’s around 1 a.m., the time I usually go to bed. I like to leave the blinds open so I can peer at the empty parking lot below my second-floor apartment. It’s quiet aside from the neighbor who usually arrives home late and slams the door of his red pickup truck.
Then, as my eyes drift closed, a stomach-churning thud followed by a high-pitched scratch echoes from my door. My eyelids snap open.
My cats are jumping into and clawing the door in a desperate attempt to enter the bedroom. A few expletives later, I stand up, open the door and corral the wilder one into his kennel for the remainder of the evening.
When I look at my alarm clock, I know it’s only a few hours until my 8 a.m. starts the next day. I slam my head down on my pillow with a few more words I wouldn’t want my mother to hear and attempt to sleep.
This is a daily experience that comes with having pets in a small, one-bedroom apartment close to campus. But I’ll say early on, it’s absolutely worth the challenges.
I am 20 years old and a junior journalism major at IU. My girlfriend, Makayla, with whom I share my 400-square-foot apartment, and I have two cats, Rubeus and Vincent, as well as a mouse we found in the mall named Harriet.
We adore our animals more than many people we’ve met, and I am not exaggerating. They each have their own Instagram pages, seasonal outfits and framed photos ... yeah, it’s a bit much.
Vincent is a classic orange tabby with dopey eyes and a cuddly personality aptly named after Van Gogh. Rubeus, or Ruby for short, is a grey Maine Coon mixed with something unknown. We rescued Vincent from the shelter a few months ago and purchased Ruby from a breeder.
I am kept fairly busy with my school work most of the time and, as the Indiana Daily Student general assignments editor, I also spend a lot of time in the office. Often I work at home, too, which can be difficult with the cats.
They walk on my homework while I’m writing, they decide it’s cuddle time when I’m trying to read and they sometimes bite my foot if it’s hanging off the bed.
I have to remember to feed them — three times a day, of course — take them on walks and play with them, but I don’t feel it’s a hard balance with my courses and work schedule. In fact, to the contrary. It adds to my routine. In the morning I wake up, feed the cats, brush my teeth, gather my books and scratch their adorable cat chins.
I say it’s not difficult to own a cat — or two! — while in college, but I’ll go a step further: I think it should be encouraged. Hogwarts knew what was up. I know it’s not allowed in a dorm, but I would recommend getting an animal as soon as you move out somewhere else. They add a life and a personality to an otherwise drab, cheap apartment.
When I am feeling stressed after classes or work, it all melts away as soon as I pick up Vincent underneath his front legs. He hates it, but he licks my nose anyway. Nothing makes me smile and forget about my hard day quite like having two wonderful and sometimes mischievous creatures walking throughout my house.
Most of us students are young. I pride myself on my independence but admit that I occasionally feel lost in the sea of adulthood. It sounds crazy, but having two cats helps my house feel like home. If Makayla is working when I get home, it’s not silent and still. The cats are either fighting, crying to me for food or sitting on my lap.
It’s never boring.
That’s what I think of on the nights they keep me up. Yeah, it sucks that I’ll be more tired because of it, but I think the cats have helped me through tough times more than they’ve caused them. It’s not a difficult balance. They tell you when they’re hungry — good luck forgetting that.
I highly recommend every college student outside a dorm get an animal. There’s not much better than knowing you’re coming home every day to someone who is as excited to see you as you are to see them.
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