Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Advertise in our classifieds section
Your classified listing could be here!
October 4, 2022

Having a pet in college is worth it

Avery Thorpe

Adopting a cat before my sophomore year at UT was one of the best decisions I ever made. Even on my most difficult days, I know Suki will be there to make me laugh and feel loved. Because I have her, I never have to be alone. 

I missed my pets back at home every day during my first year of college. While I can quickly send a text or make a phone call if I miss my parents, this doesn’t exactly work for my non-human family members. From their absence, I realized that pets play a huge role in my emotional well-being.

A lack of interaction with animals is a common experience for college students. For example, if you want to draw a crowd on Speedway, all you need to do is walk a dog. Students’ faces light up when they see a wagging tail pass by.

Now more than ever, college students are susceptible to loneliness, stress, anxiety and depression, and pets offer a pathway to improved well-being. 

Research agrees that pets have a significant positive effect on human emotions. Personally, I know my cat brings more happiness to my life than anything else. Pets can be our greatest comforts and our biggest supporters — potentially life-changing traits for many students.  

Laysha Gonzalez, a Plan II, race, indigeneity and migration and government junior, adopted a puppy named Bambi from Austin Pets Alive.

Before adopting, she struggled with low motivation to concentrate, attend class or even socialize. 

“Ever since I got Bambi, it was an instant change,” Gonzalez said. “She’s helped me mentally, physically and even spiritually. She really saved my life.”

Adopting a pet was similarly significant in my own mental health journey. After being diagnosed with major depressive disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder during my freshman year, I struggled with hopelessness and isolation. Suki gave me a purpose and unconditional friendship. 

Despite the emotional benefits of animal companions, some may hesitate to adopt a pet for fear of the added responsibility on top of their studies. But developing a healthy routine with a pet can actually encourage better habits as a student.  

Living in student housing, I definitely had concerns about my ability to care for a pet. However, I found  my cat is perfectly happy with apartment life. Suki even brings happiness to my roommates and neighbors, so pets aren’t necessarily unconducive to college life.  

“I’m able now to wake up early and be productive because she (my dog) has been able to help me with making a schedule and staying active,” Gonzalez said. 

In many ways, caring for a beloved animal can force us to care for ourselves. 

Every morning, filling my cat’s bowl reminds me to eat a healthy breakfast myself. If I am anxious or panicked, she curls up on my lap and calms me down. When I want to sit on the couch and scroll through TikToks, Suki drags me a toy and I stop to play with her. 

“Pets help us to stay in the moment and to realize that there’s always time to play,” Gonzalez said. “There’s always time to take care of yourself. Not everything needs to be goal-oriented.” 

Max Woodfin, the executive director at Divine Canines, a non-profit that connects vulnerable populations with therapy dogs, shared his experience with animals’ wellness benefits.

“We have had several experiences with people who were either physically or emotionally wounded from war,” Woodfin said. “We witnessed firsthand soldiers who had not spoken since they had come back begin to talk with our dogs.” 

The healing impact pets have is amazing. Woodfin also said that pets personally helped his own family through periods of recovery and emotional turmoil. 

While the journey toward a happy and fulfilled student experience is complicated, we don’t have to make it alone. A pet can be the perfect companion to support you on your way to wellness. 

Jackson is a Plan II and journalism sophomore from Boerne, Texas. 


More to Discover