Yee Lim Shin – Staff Writer
It’s a quiet Sunday morning at Dordt University. While students prepare for online and in-person worship services, one Sioux Center resident makes the trek across Dordt’s campus. His orange fur contrasts against the white snow. A line of tiny footprints trails behind him.
He begins his Sunday like any other day, prowling campus to scam college students out of a morning snack or a place of refuge. His first stop: the Commons. As they exit, students take notice of him and stop to give a pet and scraps of food.
Campus cats haven’t always been a fixture at Dordt. They used to be ghosts wandering through the property, only occasionally drawn by coaxing from students. But as the months went on, the cats started warming up to the students.
“October or November was when I first started noticing them, definitely there was a while before break that I was still seeing them around.” freshman Joya Breems said. “I don’t think they were in the dorms as much and…it took them time to warm up to people.”
As the weather got colder, people took pity on the cats and brought them indoors. They smuggled the cats into various dorms and apartments and gave them food, turning them into permanent residences at Dordt. An Instagram account devoted to two of the regular feline visitors popped up over Christmas break. @Defendercats features photos and videos of the cats wandering in campus buildings, getting petted, eating food, and wearing various outfits. The account has 357 followers.
On her way back to her dormitory, sophomore Cobi Van Slageren saw one of the campus cats by the science building and slowly made her way towards him.
“I called it over and he was kind of hesitant, but I had fries from the grille.” Van Slargeren said.
She slowly lured the cat towards her and started petting him until it got too cold to stay outside in the October wind. That’s when she decided to take the chance and bring the cat inside. No one saw her coming in with a ball of fur in her arms and she snuck into her dorm where she fed the cat some milk.
Cats have always been on campus, asking to be fed or petted, but their presence has been more pronounced in recent months. Instances like these started occurring more often, to the point that cats hung out inside the apartment lobbies almost every day. Director of Residence Life Derek Buteyn sent out an email under the subject line “Campus Cats” to remind people about Dordt’s pet regulations.
Buteyn ended the email summing up that “unless the animal is approved through Student Services, or can breathe underwater, it shouldn’t be in the building.”
About thirty minutes after the cat entered Van Slageren’s dorm, her roommate started having an allergic reaction and they had to take it out.
This is one of the main reasons why Dordt administration is against people bringing the campus cats indoors. A few people at Dordt have serious allergies and could potentially have a severe reaction if they entered a room covered in cat fur. Another reason is that these cats are unsanitary outdoor cats with no known owners. They could have fleas or cause damage to carpets and furniture.
“I think people just like feeding them and caring for them because it’s the campus cats. They’re part of the campus” Breems said.