It’s high school graduation season, and this year is the first time it’s affected me since I graduated from high school 20-something years ago. Two weeks ago, my firstborn, my baby girl, my mini-me, donned her cap and gown and walked across that stage and collected her diploma. And of course, I cried. That event was one more reminder that she’d leave the nest in but a few short weeks. She’s starting college in mid-July and, although I’m thrilled for her new adventures, my maternal heart is heavy with loss.
She’s moving into a dorm-like apartment with three roommates, and the only pets allowed are ones who live in tanks. So, no cats (obviously). In general, I’m not a proponent of busy college kids being the primary caretaker for a cat. Although our feline friends are fairly independent, they still require regular attention and routine. I know when I was in college, I wasn’t able to effectively care for a cat — I know this because I had one and, in retrospect, it wasn’t the best situation for me or the kitty.
My daughter has lived with our three cats most of her life — she can barely remember a time without them. In recent weeks, she’s expressed more than a few times that she feels like crying when she thinks about leaving our kitties and living — for the first time ever — in a cat-less space. I’ve been thinking about ways I can make this transition easier for her. These efforts won’t completely take away the heartache, but will hopefully make her smile and give her a space for Saffy, Cosmo and Phoebe in her new life away from home.
Here are five ways to help homesick college kids adapt to life without the family cats.
I plan to give my daughter a couple of framed photos of our cats for her new apartment. She can display them on her desk or bedside table and keep the kitties top of mind when she wakes up in the morning or is up late studying.
Now, I don’t plan on annoying her with a million texts, but I do think she’d enjoy receiving texts containing funny or sweet photos of our cats. Plus, it will just be another reason for me to connect with her. Have I mentioned how much I’m going to miss her? Sigh.
I don’t plan on doing this one because I already have more than my fair share of social media to manage, but some parents might choose to create a Facebook page for one of the family’s cats. They could post funny photos, silly status lines and other fun goodies sure to raise a smile.
There are plenty of sites where you can upload a photo and instantly personalize hundreds of items. Coffee mugs and mousepads with the family cat’s face plastered on them would be perfect additions to any dorm room. I’ve had success creating items like these on both Zazzle and Vistaprint.
If you don’t want to go to the trouble of constructing a Facebook page, maybe just create a free email address for the cat and send regular messages to your child from the kitty. This could be really fun and funny — the cat could share all about the crazy goings-on back home, and let her know she is missed.
And remember to remind your college kids they can get their kitty fix and make a difference by volunteering at their local shelter!
How have you helped your college kids adjust to life without cats? Tell us some of your success stories in the comments!
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About the Author: Angie Bailey is an eternal optimist with an adoration of all things silly. Loves pre-adolescent boy humor, puns, making up parody songs, thinking about cats doing people things and The Smiths. Writes Catladyland, a cat humor blog, Texts from Mittens (originated right here on Catster) and authored whiskerslist: the kitty classifieds, a silly book about cats wheeling and dealing online. Partner in a production company and writes and acts in a comedy web series that features sketches and mockumentaries. Mother to two humans and three cats, all of which want her to make them food.