Students find new quarantine roommates at the pet store

Some students are adding a cat to their quarantine pod after wanting more emotional support in their life during these trying times.


Katherine Schmid and their cat Lila. Photo Courtesy of Katherine Schmid.

by Meg Bishop

It gets lonely sitting at home in your room on Zoom all day. After settling into their places this fall, students and their roommates began to consider adding a small companion to the mix — and cats seem to fit the bill.

Students who were considering getting a cat during quarantine, or didn’t know when the right time in their college career would come to adopt, found that now is the perfect time to adopt a furry friend.

Mary Tan, public relations manager for the Minnesota Animal Humane Society, has seen people of all ages adopting pets more frequently this year.

“Everybody wants a pet at this point to keep them company during the pandemic, and college students are not an exception,” Tan said.

Gaby Kauls, a second-year University of Minnesota student, was looking for a companion to share her quarantine days at home with.

“I wanted a companion. Someone to care for and cuddle with,” Kauls said. “Now that I’ve moved into my first apartment, I was like, ‘Okay. We need a cat.’”

Gaby Kauls with her kitten, Yuki. Photo Courtesy of Gaby Kauls.
Gaby Kauls with her kitten, Yuki. Photo Courtesy of Gaby Kauls.

She adopted her 5-month old kitten, Yuki, in October from a farm in Wisconsin. Kauls originally found the kitten adoption listing on Craigslist and then drove over an hour to pick up her new cat. She chose Yuki because he was a little older than the other kittens and Kauls saw that the larger cats at the farm were less likely to be adopted because everyone came for the kittens.

Growing up, her family always had a cat, so the cat owner lifestyle was nothing new to Kauls. The two now sleep together every night and are learning how to adjust to their new morning routine. For Kauls, that means getting up when she’s still half asleep to feed Yuki.

A fourth-year student, Katherine Schmid, hasn’t had a cat since they were a kid. Their household adopted a new kitten, Lila, from one of Schmid’s roommate’s family members. For the last month, having Lila around to keep them company has reignited Schmid’s love of cats.

As a plant parent, Schmid is no stranger to caring for living things, but says looking after a cat has been a bit of a change.

“I have a lot of plants and stuff, but it’s not the same as an actual animal,” Schmid said. “It’s very different. In a good way.”

Monica Algopera, a University of Minnesota third-year student, grew up with dogs but considers herself a “cat person.” She and her roommate have been planning to adopt a cat for the last few months.

“During quarantine it would be really nice to have a pet. It gets pretty lonely and having a pet would be super nice,” Algopera said.

Algopera and her roommate are taking their time to look for a hypoallergenic cat. Local shelters can’t always tell if a cat is hypoallergenic or not, so it’s harder for people to look for hypoallergenic cats from the Humane Society.

Another big draw for Algopera and many other busy students is that cats are generally lower maintenance animals than dogs.

“With cats you just have to feed them and make sure they don’t die.”