Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Fluffy friends

Kate Solinger shares her bedroom with eight friends.

Her alarm wakes them up in the morning. She plans her class schedule around their needs. And they shed all over her bed.

Solinger is fostering eight pets — six kittens, a puppy and a dog.

“Fostering is kinda like babysitting,” the McCormick senior said. “I take them from the animal shelter and and look after them until they’re adopted. I’m not the one who’s going to keep them forever.”

Since she started fostering pets last year, Solinger has looked after 12 cats and 15 dogs who stay in her apartment between two weeks and three months, depending on how quickly they are adopted.

“I like to have something to take care of,” Solinger said. “I feel a little more worthwhile.”

Whether looking to help needy animals or seeking companionship, college students who have pets often face problems with roommates, money and time.

Solinger said she often feels she doesn’t spend enough time with her foster pets. Because they usually go to a family that can give them more attention, she said, she doesn’t miss them when they’re gone.

Her roommate, however, doesn’t appreciate the animals, so Solinger keeps them in her room — the smaller of the two bedrooms in the apartment.

When Medill graduate student Etan Harmelech got two cats, Chingy and Trina, from the shelter, two of his three roommates hadn’t gotten much warning.

“We pretty much just asked them if they were allergic,” he said.

Although the shelter reimburses Solinger for pet-care expenses, Harmelech’s cats cost him about $15 a week for food and litter, he said.

“We all chip in to some extent,” said Bryan Macrie, one of Harmelech’s roommates. “But he’s in charge of changing the litter box and buying food.”

If the roommates are away or hosting parties, they must make sure the pets are OK. Macrie, a McCormick senior, said during a recent party they had to lock the pets in a room and “hope no one opened it.”

Macrie said he’ll miss Chingy and Trina when he graduates.

“They’re fun to be around,” he said. “When you come home they run around and jump. It’s always fun when you’ve had a bad day to come home and play with a cat.”

McCormick senior Joel Thomas said the company of his cat, Socks, is worth the food, litter and vet expenses.

“I live alone, so it’s someone to keep me company,” he said. “She’s pretty independent and she sleeps a lot, but she demands a lot of attention when I get home.”

Finding people to look after Socks over vacations and caring for her at the end of the quarter can be “hectic,” Thomas said. He said he normally has friends who have already graduated look after her.

After he graduates, Thomas said, he’ll do whatever it takes to keep Socks.

“She’s going with me wherever I go,” he said.

Reach Elizabeth Gibson at [email protected].

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Fluffy friends