By Conor Brummell
Pets? In a University house? You must be joking! There’s a fundamental reason as to why landlords often have a ‘no pets rule’ in rent agreements, and it’s because having an animal living with you in your university flat can be a disaster. Don’t get me wrong, a pet can be so beneficial for the psyche – they’re cute, they can be great stress relievers and can become your best friend. However, from my experience of having a pet in college, it just doesn’t work, due to the busy lifestyle students have. The pets were never exclusively mine when in first and second year, but I got to spectate from afar, and can safely say calamity and hilarity ensued at times.
You see, the life of a student is so unpredictable that raising a pet in a house with as many as five to six people can be a bit unstable, not to mention confusing for the pet. Who gets ownership at the end of the year? Who must buy the essentials such as food, bedding, toys – should everyone in the house chip in, or is it the responsibility of the person who brought the animal into the house to look after those financial burdens? In first year, I lived in student accommodation and my housemate (who was in second year) brought her goldfish, who she had bought in first year, up to the apartment. Maurice, as he was called, was low maintenance and provided many hours of entertainment to everyone who stepped through the front door. People were in awe at the fact that we had broken the rules of the renting agreement and gotten a pet, and many thought we were so cool because we had a fish called Maurice. The lives of students, eh?
That said, however, Maurice was in violation of our leases and often caused panic when we were in college on days of apartment inspections, when we forgot to hide him in a wardrobe under a towel as not to get caught. With pets who are deemed unacceptable, it carries such a burden, as you could get in trouble over them. This brings me to pet number two, which we had in second year. I lived with the same housemate who owned Maurice, and because we had gotten away with a fish, she decided to set her eyes on something a lot bigger and a lot livelier: a cat. After weeks of nagging, hinting and outright asking us if she could get a cat, she arrived home with a small ginger and white kitten without our actual permission. Everyone loved her, and she was a lovely cat, but she turned out to be a handful.
She was energetic and, due to no one being there all the time to play with her, she was hyper all the time. We had to get someone to feed her at the weekends and hide her during landlord visits, as well as putting her in one of our rooms during pre-drinks and parties. It all came to a climax however; we went home for the weekend and the doors of a roommate’s bedroom were left open. Roo, the cat, wandered up and defecated in that roommate’s bed. I remember it well; I received a text from the housemate who owned the cat, asking me if I knew the whereabouts of our other roommate. Luckily, he was staying at home that night and wouldn’t be down. When I arrived, the house was like an old-fashioned laundry room, with buckets full of steaming hot bleach water littering the kitchen. My housemate was frantically trying to wash the sheets, and in the end, we went to the big two euro washing machines in Newcastle. The only good thing that came from that incident was the fact that we got Supermac’s cookies at half one in the morning.
So, there you have it. Pets are brilliant and I adore them, however whilst living in a university house, whether it’s low maintenance (like a goldfish), or a handful (like a new-born kitten from Knocknacarra), it’s probably not the best idea to get one.