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Campus cats: An empirical study


I love cats. I have three cats back home, put cat stickers on everything I own and possess a massive collection of cat pictures and videos. So, coming to Stanford, I was hoping that I’d be able to find cats to appreciate, even if that appreciation was just from seeing a couple of strays on campus from time to time. Considering that the welcome packet for incoming frosh specifically said not to take in feral cats, I figured this was a safe bet to make. Unfortunately, my modest dreams have been left woefully unrealized.

As a self-proclaimed crazy cat lady, I pride myself in my ability to find cats in my everyday life. From strays to outdoor pets to cats peeking out of a window, my cat radar is fairly strong. However, since coming to Stanford, I have not seen a single cat. Not. One.

I know the cats exist. The proof of their existence is undeniable. I’ve seen cat Snapchat stories from West Lag, I’ve heard about RFs that have cats and I saw two strays during admit weekend — but it’s November, and I haven’t seen any cats. How is it possible to for these cats to exist while I’ve gone catless for 8 weeks? I slogged through my cat-deprived grief to come up with a few reasons.

The lack of domestic cats on campus is most likely attributable to two main sources. One is the seemingly lower amount of cats compared to dogs that are kept as pets on campus. I know of multiple RFs, including my own, who have dogs, while I’ve only heard of one that has a cat. This makes sense given that dogs are more popular than cats, but it is tragic nonetheless.

The second reason is simply that people don’t walk cats. Walking cats is possible when begun in kittenhood, but it’s extremely rare, and since people don’t walk their cats every day like they do their dogs, the exposure of the domestic cats on campus to any outdoor space where I or other cat lovers could potentially interact with them is rather limited. Between these two reasons, it’s logical to not have seen any domestic cats.

However, the trickier issue is that of stray or feral cats. Given that Stanford itself confirms that feral cats do live on campus, the only possible explanation is that I haven’t been in the right place at the right time yet. Feral cats, and cats that go outside in general, tend to have reasonably large areas of territory that they patrol regularly, so finding that territory is paramount to finding these cats. Then, of course, there’s the matter of time. Cats are generally believed to be crepuscular, meaning they’re more active around dawn and dusk than in the middle of the day. Theoretically, utilization of this knowledge should make it easier to find cats, but sadly, my efforts have been unfruitful.

Even with all of this knowledge, cats have been notably absent from my campus life. Tragically, the worst part of this absence of cats is the abundance of dogs. Dogs are wonderful pets of course, and dog lovers are probably elated when they see one of the many dog walkers on campus, but I can’t help but feel a small pang of disappointment every time I see a corgi or a terrier instead of a tabby or a tortoiseshell.


Seen a cat recently? Contact Kiara Harding at kiluha ‘at’


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