November 14, 2022

PAPPAS | Reigning Cats and Dogs 

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Last weekend, I made the best decision of my academic career: I got a cat. Although I’d like to spend the next several hundred words talking about how amazing my cat is (because she really is amazing), I won’t. Instead, I’ll discuss the value of having a pet in college.

Having a pet in college was not entirely unfamiliar to me before I got my very own furry friend. My sister (who also goes to Cornell) got an adorable, not-so-little Bernedoodle our freshman year. I’ve been his “Auntie” ever since, and have gotten to enjoy all the benefits of having a big, fluffy dog without actually having to take care of a big, fluffy dog. After realizing how much I enjoyed pet-sitting my nephew, I figured, why not get one of my own. 

Despite the obvious cuteness factor of watching a little fluffball grow up alongside you, owning a pet in college can enhance your quality of life in more ways than one. 

Pets are the perfect companions. Feeling lonely? Get a pet! Spending time with your pet won’t feel the same as your time with human friends, but it won’t feel as isolating as your time alone, either. Sometimes, spending time with an animal is better than spending time with humans precisely because they’re not humans. You won’t need to recharge your social battery before you hang out with your pet. You won’t have to navigate awkward silences or worry about engaging them in conversation. You’ll be able to rant to your furry friend all you like without boring them.

Plus, you no longer need an alarm clock. I’ve replaced my obnoxiously loud, air raid siren with a quiet, gentle meow which makes for a much more peaceful wakeup (minus the cat breath that accompanies this quiet meow). Most cats and dogs have a biological clock that starts the day earlier than we might like to. Pets are usually up and ready for more food, water or attention at six or seven in the morning. Even if you don’t want to wake up early to attend your 8 a.m. or even your 9 a.m., your pet’s early start can motivate you to get up and go to class. Early starts can be more productive than late nights, as columnist Aurora Weirens ’24 recently noted in her column a few weeks ago, “Early Bird Gets the Worm.” You can even spend the extra hour giving your new pet the attention they deserve. After all, that’s the reason they woke you up. 

Taking care of a living, breathing thing other than yourself requires you to take care of yourself first, so having a furry friend can help to ensure you’re doing both at the same time. Maybe you don’t mind living in a messy room, with dishes that’ve been sitting in your sink for two weeks and a floor you can’t see because of the piles of dirty laundry, but you wouldn’t want that for your new furry friend. Loose socks become choking hazards, and dirty surfaces are dangerous for dogs and cats who lick their paws daily. When you share your space with any other living thing, human or animal, you’ll make a conscious effort to keep it cleaner than you likely would if you were living alone. 

Having a pet in college gives you something to think about other than yourself. I think it’s easy for us to get a bit too wrapped up in ourselves, in our personal and professional successes and failures. Taking care of a pet gives us an opportunity to be selfless too, which can help us get out of our own heads. We all like to think that we have a special purpose in this life, and owning a pet gives you just that. When you get a pet, you become a parent to your fur baby, and your new role as guardian gives you a glimpse into the sacred realm of parenthood without actually having to birth a human baby. Being tasked with ensuring the safety and well-being of your fur baby can seem daunting and, at times, truly nerve-wracking, but watching your baby grow up into the animal you nurtured them to be is extremely rewarding. 

If you want a furry friend, I say go out and get one. People will probably push back. They’ll say you don’t have time for a pet in college. To that I say, we make time for what’s important to us. If caring for a fur baby is what you really want, you’ll make the time to love them. You’ll make so much time, in fact, you won’t ever want to go to class. 

Isabelle Pappas is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected]. Like It Iz runs every other Monday this semester.