Fluffy pals add comfort to hectic student lives

Matt Christopher, right, shown with his brother, Mitch, owns two cats named Zelda and Navi. He says it’s difficult to find time to take care of the cats while being a student.

By Annabeth Carlson

When looking at the typical college student’s shopping list, one will probably find school supplies and dorm or apartment furniture. Pet food and toys are usually not on the list.

Three student pet owners shared their experience of living with a pet at school, explaining the challenges and benefits of owning one as a student.

Deepak Alagnav and Turbo

Deepak Alagnav, a senior in LAS, has a black and white tuxedo cat named Turbo. Alagnav bought him two summers ago, splitting the cost with his roommate. Despite the challenges of keeping a pet while remaining a full-time student, Alegnav said he loves having a pet in college.

“He really does help me manage my stress, and I have a cat friend to watch TV with,” he joked.

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At first, Alegnav said Turbo lived with him and his roommate in the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house.

However, the biggest struggle since they moved out was finding a pet-friendly apartment complex.

Currently, Alegnav and Turbo live in an apartment complex that is not pet-friendly. However, Alegnav said they were able to get around the rules because he has a doctor’s note saying that his pet helps handle his stress. He also said his neighbors did the same with their dog.

Matt Christopher, Zelda and Navi

Another cat owner on campus is Matt Christopher, a senior in LAS. Christopher owns two cats named Zelda and Navi, half-Bengal and half-Russian Siberian cats who are currently 11 months old.

Unlike Alegnav, Christopher said he was able to find a pet-friendly apartment complex on campus. He said that the apartment, located at 605 S. Fourth St., simply has a few guidelines for pets, including a rule that states a resident can only have a maximum of two pets within a certain weight limit. The resident must also pay an additional fee for the ability to own a pet.

Christopher said the most challenging part of owning a pet in college is making time to take care of them, with one of the biggest hassles revolving around time management. He said it can be a hassle to go back to his apartment between classes to feed them. Despite this challenge, Christopher said he enjoys being a pet owner.

“They (the cats) are just so adorable and fun to play with. I’m an animal person,” he said.

Marta Ortiz and Chyna

Felines are not the only friends to Illini. Marta Ortiz, senior in LAS, adopted a three-year-old pit bull terrier named Chyna.

Ortiz, who lives at Castle on Locust, said that her apartment allows pets if the tenant pays a $25 monthly fee. She said Chyna has to be taken out to use the bathroom every couple of hours, including sometimes as early as 6 a.m. There are also expensive vet bills to consider. Despite this, Ortiz said she thinks it is completely worth it to have a dog.

“After having a long day of school and work, it’s the best having someone so genuinely happy to see you when you get home. And she’s always so happy and loving, I can’t help but be in a good when she’s around.”

Annabeth can be reached at [email protected].