STORY BY MOLLY ADAMSON
When going off to college, one of the hardest things to do is leave a beloved pet behind. It can be especially difficult when thinking of all the stress ahead, and the fact that the pet won’t be there to help relive some of said stress. But some students, due to medical reasons, are able to bring their pets along for help.
One such student is Kelly Floyd, a sophomore majoring in second education and English, who suffers from depression and anxiety.
“Once I left for school was kind of when the depression hit me really hard,” Floyd said.
“I’m medicated and I’ve gone to therapy for an incredibly long time but I still needed something. … One of my main things is that I always need something to take care of, and if I’m not taking care of something I get super anxious. Last year I had a fish, but you can’t really cuddle a fish.”
So this year, Floyd was able to get an Emotional Support Animal. Her cat Bentley helps her with her mental illness.
“On the days when you don’t really want to take care of yourself, you still have to take care of the cat,” Floyd said. “And on days when you just feel like crap, he’s still going to be there to love you no matter what. He keeps me grounded.”
Floyd was able to pinpoint the best part of having a cat around.
“I think my favorite thing is when I come home from class,
he always comes up right to the door,” Floyd said. “He sits on the ventilation, so when I open the door he’s right there. Then he puts his paws on my leg, so I pick him up. That’s my favorite thing — after I get back from class my cat just wants to be held.”
Floyd did say that there are some bad things about having Bentley in her dorm.
“He does like getting in the way,” Floyd said. “He’s distracting, because he’s so adorable. My friends tell me I’m not allowed to do homework in my dorm anymore because I get distracted.”
On a more serious note, Floyd did discuss some of the more negative comments she’s gotten because she has the cat.
“People say ‘Wow, you’re allowed to have a cat? I’m gonna pretend I need an Emotional
Support Animal so that I can get a cat,’” Floyd said. “The thing that really sucks is that everybody assumes that I’m making up the fact that I need an Emotional Support Animal, just so that I can get a cat. But that is legitimately why I got him and it’s his purpose. But the plus side is people say ‘Man, we’re going to hang out in your dorm because you have the cat!’
“I make sure people know that I’m not pretending. He is legitimately an Emotional Support Animal,” Floyd said. “I have a prescription from my psychiatrist to permit me to have this animal. It’s not just a pet like everyone assumes he is.”
Floyd’s friends have definitely seen an improvement in her.
Andrew Dixon, a sophomore undecided major, smiled at his friend. “You were great last semester, but you’re a lot happier this semester. You’re generally happier and you have a lot more energy,” Dixon told Floyd.
Sophomore writing Ashley Janhke, who is Floyd’s roommate, also agreed that having the cat around is a nice improvement.
“I have three cats at home, so it’s nice to have one at college,” Janhke said.
Floyd definitely sees improvement in her mood now that she has Bentley in her life.
“When I wake up in the morning, sometimes the first thing I think of is how lucky I am because there’s a cat looking at me,” Floyd said.