NU (wild) cats and the owners who love them
    NU cat Coconut lives with Bienen senior Cameron LeCrone. Photo courtesy of Cameron LeCrone.

    Several NU cat people gave us their first-person accounts telling us how their furry felines have changed everything.


    President and Merkel, cats of Maddie Weinstein, Communication senior

    For about a month now, my four roommates and I have been fostering two kittens through the Evanston animal shelter program C.A.R.E.

    They are the best kittens ever. Two little black cats, brother and sister – President and Merkel. Merkel is named after Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany, and President is just President. I really resisted the names at first, but then my roommates were calling them that, so I thought, "Fine, what’s done is done," and gave in.

    Merkel is super feisty. When she’s hungry, she’ll just climb up your body like it’s a tree – it’s super disconcerting. President is a little bit shyer. But they both love cuddling.

    I actually used to have two pet rats at school. Their names were Portia and Ellen. They were two blonde girls, and I like to think they were in a romantic partnership. Rats are great pets. They’re really smart, they knew their names, they cuddled. But in a way, the cats are an upgrade. R.I.P. Ellen and Portia, though. Love you guys.

    I used to walk to Thee Fish Bowl on Dempster to get my animal fix. They knew me; it was comical. They’d say, "Maddie, you wanna walk a dog!?" But then Thee Fish Bowl stopped having pets up for adoption, so I was like, "What am I going to do?" Finally the five of us in my apartment were people who were all willing to do this, so it was the perfect time.

    For Halloween this year, my roommates ordered costumes for them. We got little wrist cuffs, white accordion-pleated ones. They’re the perfect size to fit around the cats’ necks to look like fancy collars, like the ones people in I-don’t-know-what time period wore. And then my roommate and I were aristocats with them! Get it? So that was a great cat-owning moment.

    I feel like we’re three lesbian moms. My roommate will walk in and I’ll say, "Mommy Abby is home, go say hi!" The other day, my roommate and I figured out how to make a hammock-y Baby Bjorn with a scarf. So, we didn’t have to put them down even when we were cooking. If the cat is sleepy enough, it’ll stay.

    It’s a joke among my friends that I’m already becoming an old cat lady because all I want to do is be at home with my cats and make dinner and watch How I Met Your Mother. And now I’ll actually go down in the history books of Northwestern as the cat lady!

    Rhett and Todd, cats of Emily Wills, Communication junior

    My roommates and I foster two cats through a program called Feline Friends, which is an entirely foster-based shelter for cats.

    Our cats names are Rhett and Todd. Todd is all black with a little white spot on his chest and a white patch on his belly, and Rhett is a gorgeous gray cat with bright yellow eyes, white paws and white on the tip of his tail.

    They can be distracting, but it’s great. I’ll be sitting there doing my homework – and you know how cats do this thing where they’ll run around everywhere, and then they’ll jump on a chair and stop and be totally still, like, "What just happened?" It’s little things like that. It’s fun to have little life forces when you’re, say, cramming for a midterm, or thinking, "The world will end, I have this paper due, and I can’t do anything right," and then there’s this cat looking at you like, "If you pet me, I’ll purr."

    Training a cat can be so difficult, especially around food time. We have a spray bottle that we spray them with when they jump on the kitchen counter. But this morning, when I was getting their food ready, Todd jumped up on the counter. I started squirting him, and he just hunkered down and closed his eyes like he was prepared to stay there forever. I squirted him like 20 times, and he was soaked before he finally jumped off the counter.

    They’re about five months old now and they still haven’t gotten fixed. So they’re getting older, and Rhett has started getting a little feisty and, like, humping his brother. I walked out of my room the other day, and was like, "What are you two – oh my god, that is NOT allowed."  Like, it’s hard to see them as babies once you’ve seen them act that way. In that situation, there’s not much you can do. I might’ve tried to pull Rhett off his brother, but there was no going back for them. Like, you know what, that’s for you guys [Rhett and Todd] to deal with in therapy later.

    Honestly when I eventually have children, if I take their maturity into sexuality as well as I’ve taken my cats’ maturity into sexuality, I’m going to be an A-okay parent. I don’t think I will, though. With the cats, I reacted with, “Oh my god, they have to get fixed.” And with a kid, you can’t just get them fixed.

    Coconut, cat of Cameron LeCrone, Bienen senior

    Photo courtesy of Cameron LeCrone.

    So, I just adopted my cat this summer. She was a stray and my girlfriend rescued her from her backyard and I took her back to Evanston with me. I’ve wanted to get a cat for a couple years, and now I’m in a position where it’s okay for me to have one, living in an apartment and being able to pay for her food and kitty litter and stuff. I feel like a dad almost. It’s weird.

    She’s a little calico, short-haired cat, mostly white with ginger and black spots. She likes to play a lot, but she also likes to have her alone time. She’s kind of sassy that way. She’ll run away and hide places if she’s not in the mood to hang out, but she will not leave you alone if she’s in one of her cuddly moods. She will sit on your head or chest and purr like a machine. She also likes sleeping in my drums and cymbal cases, and she ate the felt part off of one of my drum mallets. It was a really expensive mallet, too, but she’s too cute to be mad at.

    I didn’t have a pet growing up. I came from a pretty big family, and we just didn’t have room in the house for an animal. So it’s cool in some ways. It’s like fulfilling these things I’ve wanted since I was a little kid. A pet is like an unconditional friend that’s just hanging out at home, waiting for you to arrive. It’s awesome. I live on the third floor, and she’ll usually hear me climbing up the steps. She’ll, like, curiously peek out the back door and then usually run up to me and say hi. It’s gratifying that somebody is that excited to see you, like, all of the time.

    I wouldn’t say I had responsibility issues beforehand, but having a cat does make you hypersensitive about caring for someone else. You realize the little cat can’t really do anything for itself. If you don’t feed it, it’ll be hungry. She made me grow up a lot without realizing it at all. And she’ll be around for, like, 20 years, so she might know me when I’m in my early 40s and that is the craziest thing in the world.

    See more NU pets in the mag.


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