My days leading up to the alleged impact of two tropical storms were filled with Diet Pepsi and worry regarding Tulane’s famous campus cats. Lily, my cat-loving roommate suggested we provide refuge in our dorm room for the numerous felines. I mentioned that I don’t think our RA would like that, but I appreciated the thoughtfulness of the proposal. Regardless, I was still doubtful that they would be able to fend off the weather because I don’t know where they go during such events.
According to Dr. Carrie Wyland, a psychology professor here at Tulane and fellow campus cat lover, “[O]utdoor cats (on-campus and elsewhere) are pretty resourceful and like other animals will find a safe space to hide during storms, under a building or dumpster, or in garage or storage spaces, holes in trees, places like that.” Learning this put me somewhat at ease, but I was surprised how self-sufficient our feline friends actually were. The Feral Cat Initiative or New York City reveals that cats “often sense when bad weather is coming and take steps to protect themselves if they can.” It has been proposed that many animals, including cats and dogs, can sense atmospheric pressure, and therefore, can “sense” a storm coming before their human counterparts.
No one person or specific group is tracking the cats on campus, but various faculty members will leave food and water out in various areas for our feline friends. As late as 2009, Tulane had a “Campus Cats Club”, but after various emails to them with no response, I can only assume that the group has disbanded. The black cat (who is either named Jeffery or named “Toothless” for his resemblance to the dragon in the How To Train Your Dragon franchise) that frequents the area around the music building looks to be well taken care of. There is always food out, from who I can only assume is a kind faculty member, and various small cat toys litter the grass where Toothless roams. On my walk towards the Commons three times a day, I take note of where Toothless could find shelter during the storms. Perhaps a small opening somewhere in the music building? Maybe the various trees that surround the area? Even more creative, maybe dig a hole and wait? Do cats dig?(My roommate, Lily replies, “not that I know of.”) I’d also like to think that our dear Toothless is a bit smarter than I am when it comes to hurricane preparedness.
Even if the campus cats’ storm whereabouts remain a mystery, there are ways we can help them without kidnapping them and hiding them in the shower during RA room checks. According to the Humane Society, keeping a list of descriptions and pictures of the cats is always helpful so we can locate them after the storm, so keep those Snapchats coming. Always be cautious with any animal roaming the campus, rabies on top of a pandemic would not be a fun way to go through the semester. See something concerning the cats? Let a faculty member know and they will point you in the right direction.
I will leave you with this delightful poem, written by my Swedish friend, Mildred:
On a gloomy day, the cat there lays in the grass waiting to be petted by the passing students. No matter the levels of stress among the student body we never fail to take care of our beloved cats. Stroking the soft fur of the cat will make our day in an instant that, of course, assuming they’re in the mood for it. The longing for love and affection is highly requested especially during times of uncertainty and that we can receive the best from our beloved cats as social distancing plays a distinct role in our lives. Eight hugs a day is essential for happiness they say, but we just need some soft fur and purring. The simplicity of college students fits perfectly for the characteristics of the cat, it doesn’t require constant affection like the dog but will enjoy it whenever it is given.
Well said, Mildred, well said.