Published on August 8, 2022

When classroom sessions and assignments wear them out and human interactions do little to quell that gnawing sense of loneliness, it is the four-legged furry creatures that offer emotiona l succour to students at premier institutes. No surprise then that caring for these selfless creatures is top priority for students who go all out to return the love they receive in abundance. Recen tly, the students of MICA gathered for a small ‘fenilitation’ -a naming ceremony – of a kitten.
The students had to choose from names like Yuki, Simba, Nibbles, Rajaram, Miffy, Mango and Zulu and others. But Popcorn gathered the maximum number of votes, and the kitten finally got a name.
Aditi Rughani, a member of The Beagle Band at MICA, formed to take care of the dogs and cats on the campus, is coparenting the kitten with her roommate Shireen.
“Three weeks ago, we found the kitten in a weak state. But today it has grown into a healthy munchkin. We handle its groomi ng, feeding, litter training and vet visits. Amid classes, assignments, and hectic B-school life, we have found our little bundle of joy that we cherish to the core,” she says. For many resi- educa tional campuses, animals are as much a part of student life as exams. In several institutes, formal bodies exist for pet care so that the animals are provided for even when the colleges are closed for vacation whereas in the others, these bodies function anonymously.
A senior official of a pre- mier institute said that not all students or faculties like strays. “The dogs and cats are often seen as a nuisance, especially when they get violent, bite someone or chew on the rugs and furniture. But eventually we recognize that the animals provide a sort of solace to students who have left their homes in pursuit of a career,” said the official. “So, we ensure that all the strays on the campus premises are properly vaccinated and students made aware of the safety protocols. ”
For some students, caring for the animals is an extension of their love for their pets back home. Anchit, a postgraduate student of photography design at NID, said that she has two dogs at home. “Here in my hostel, a dog is a constant companion. The canine never makes me miss my pets. That is the bond we share,” she said. “While it is not always possible to pro vide dog food, I usually buy sugarless biscuits for the dogs on campus. ”
GNLU campus has about eight dogs and three cats, says Anushka Bhatt, a BBA-LLB integrated course student. “One of the cats here has just delivered four kittens. So, we are busy tending to them right now,” she said. “I met them on the first day here and they are special to me and members of Paws of GNLU group. We are not allowed pets back home for many r easons. But here, pets are our collective responsibility and we ensure that they get vaccinated in time. ”

Dhruven Zala, a PhD student and coordinator for Pawsible at IIM-A, said that he does not have pets at home, but at the campus he has learnt to connect with dogs and ca ts. “It makes us compassionate and caring, and also connects us with the campus in a unique way,” he said.

A kitty for cats and dogs

Finances are not an issue for the clubs with institutes providing small funds, alumni offering donations, and students opting for crowdfunding in case of emergencies. A major portion of the budget allocated goes into buying food for pets as campuses discourage feeding leftovers, keeping their health and hygiene in mind. Other expenses include toys and regular vaccination. During vacations, a staff member takes care of the animals.

How to befriend strays

Pawsible at IIM-A has a ‘how to’ guide to befriend a stray on their Instagram page. They advocate building trust first to ensure that the cat or dog understands that the human means no harm. Volunteers at various campuses said that dog bite cases have reduced as students are made aware of how to befriend the canines.

Kennel, vax for pets

Nilesh Thube, a PhD student and member of Volunteers of Campus Animals (VCA) at IIT-Gn, said that there’s a kennel for the puppies on campus, and vets visit the premises regularly to vaccinate strays. “Spending time with puppies is a stress buster,” he said.

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