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Rhoads: Find solace in your roommate’s pet

Collegian | Kathryn Pakiz

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

Living with a roommate is challenging. Maybe they are messy or always blasting music until the early morning hours, but what if they have a pet?


I was worried about moving in with an animal, but my mental health drastically improved because of it.

My roommate has two cats: Ham and Luna. Ham and I have grown close over the year that I’ve lived with my roommate, but we will have to separate this coming January. Ham takes naps with me and is a huge source of comfort after a long day. I’ve watched him go from being an obese, 25-pound rescue to a slim and trim tomcat. I feel a responsibility for his well-being even though he isn’t mine.

No one talks about how difficult it is to move from place to place throughout college; we have such little stability during this period of our lives. We build these relationships with our roommates and their pets who we might never see again after parting ways.

Rates of depression and anxiety are at an all-time high for college students. Living with a pet has proven to alleviate symptoms of depression, with 74% of pet owners reporting improved mental health with a furry friend, according to WebMD.

Yes, sometimes it’s horrible being woken up by meowing every morning, but Ham has been there for me after I bomb tests or when I miss my family. Many other college students could benefit from animal companionship, even if it’s through a roommate’s pet.

Maddie Corkery, a Colorado State University student, lived with a tuxedo cat named Ivy during her first year in college. The cat belonged to her suitemate, but Corkery developed a close relationship with Ivy.

“It’s already bittersweet leaving your first dorm, but I also had to say goodbye to Ivy,” Corkery said. “I cried for a long time before shutting that door.”

Ivy was there when the dorms were empty, and Corkery was all alone; she said Ivy was a huge source of comfort for her over the course of her first year away from home.

Amy Canevallo, a psychological science professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, said living with a roommate who has pets can bring the human roommates closer as well.


Walking a dog or playing with a cat can be an excellent activity for roommates who don’t yet know each other. It can provide bonding opportunities and benefit all parties. According to News in Health, playing with an animal can decrease cortisol levels, a stress hormone.

I’ve already shed tears over leaving my roommate’s cat, and we haven’t said goodbye yet. It’s like a breakup, except you’re the one getting broken up with. We get so attached to the animals in our lives, and they provide comfort to everyone around them.

It may not be for everyone, but in my opinion, having a pet is a great addition to the college experience.

Reach Darien Rhoads at or on Twitter @DarienRhoads.

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