Ladies, gentlemen, and those beyond a binary, do I have a proposition for you– picture it: you’re sitting at the Harriet Irving Library, pouring your heart and soul into a final essay. Exams are creeping up on you, and the world is looking bleak. Suddenly, a cat appears like a dove to a man lost at sea. Instantly, you are filled with hope and are able to power through. This could be our reality.
There have been countless studies conducted that show the benefit of owning pets for students. Pets and domestic animals help improve both mental and physical health. University is often a high stress environment and having animals on campus can help students with instances of anxiety and depression. Who among us does not feel a sense of comfort when interacting with therapy dogs during exam periods? The Brunswickan believes we should take the idea of therapy dogs a step further. Our proposition? A library cat at the HIL.
Let me tell you about a cat named Carlton. Carlton has been dubbed “campus cat” at Saint Mary’s University. I spoke to SMU student and Activities Coordinator Brady Saunders about the beloved campus cat. He told me Carlton does not live on the campus but belongs to a family in a nearby house. Carlton is a free spirit who wanders SMU to bless students in the hallways and eat from the various bowls of food left for him around the campus.
Saunders spoke of Carlton’s effect on him and the SMU campus: “When I first came here, being a first-year student, it was nice to see that there was a cat just roaming around. It just keeps the mood light.” Due to the fact that Carlton lives off campus and has a family of his own, he isn’t always the friendliest cat you’ll meet, Saunders remarked. “He kind of likes people. He’ll come up to people but then if you try to move to him sometimes he’ll kind of go away. He kind of does his own thing.”
Saunders had this to say about the notion of a library cat, “I think a library cat would actually work a lot better than a campus cat because Carlton… he does his own thing. He kind of just roams around where he wants to…. So if you guys were to get a cat… if you had him in the library, you’d feed him, you’d really take care of him. Whereas Carlton is someone else’s.”
Saunders continued: “The library’s pretty quiet so it would be a great place for a cat to roam around. It would be easy to track the cat, too. It would make a good story too if you guys were to adopt one from the SPCA, get a rescue cat and give it a home in the UNB library and then the librarian or someone takes care of him there…. Cats don’t really pose too many problems. As long as no one is overly allergic, it’s really easy to feed a cat and take care of it right. I don’t really see too many issues besides the minor maintenance.”
Another option besides adopting a cat would be to foster a cat or kittens in the library that would later be available to be adopted by students or faculty. As for who takes care of the cat, if no one in the library is willing to, I have no doubt in my mind that there would be more than a few students happy to donate some of their time to the wellbeing of our library cat. One of the hardest parts of living away from home is having to bid your furry friends farewell. Having a cat in the library would make the campus feel more like home and serve as a welcome distraction to the hustle and bustle of university life. We’ve all been through a lot these past couple of years: a cat is what we need to bring a sense of life and unity back to UNB.