Photo courtesy of Ádám Nagy
Following the success of the Doggy Destress events on campus, NYU Abu Dhabi’s Campus Life Complaint Committee CaLiCoCo decided to implement a new method of de-stressing: engaging feline companions through their own Kitty Destress program. Throughout the past few months, members of CaLiCoCo scoured the city for stray and abandoned cats and brought them to the Saadiyat Island campus.
“We thought it would be a win-win-win situation: students would get to take a break from their busy lives by cuddling and petting the cats, the cats would finally have a loving home and we would have fewer complaints to deal with,” argued Catherine Purrdue, head of the destressing program.
“It ended up being more of a lose-lose-lose situation,” she elaborated.
The program began with the introduction of one cat, followed by a short period labeled by CaLiCoCo as the honeymoon phase of their program. Students mostly found the cat to be quite cute, aww-ing lovingly as it meowed by their side through their meals and posting photos of it on social media with captions such as #saadicat, #pawsitive and #felinegreat.
“Given the initial positive reaction in this introductory phase of our program, we decided to go ahead and bring in more cats,” continued Purrdue.
After a brief honeymoon phase, the cats gradually started organizing themselves and strategically taking over the outdoor dining area on the East side of the campus, colonizing the outdoor furniture. As the number of cats increased, so did the reported sightings of traumatized students flinging the animals off outdoor dining hall tables, pouring cups of water over them, or simply dejectedly picking up their trays and continuing their meals inside the dining hall. Catfights sprung up on the university’s online forums, leading some to fear that this might be the spark that ignites the community’s first civil war. One group of students suggested a cat-apult, while others thought that purr-suing such drastic means would go against the animal rights claws of the Student Government constitution. A third group of students is just annoyed that yet another serious debate devolved into a pun-off.
Purrdue further directed us to a series of detailed graphs showcasing the levels of stress of the students, the wellbeing of the cats and the number of complaints received through CaLiCoCo’s hotline and anonymous forum plotted against the number of cats present on campus.
“As you can see here, with every additional cat everything just gets worse. Student stress levels did go down at one point, when spray bottles were introduced next to the dining hall, but that only happened because students found spraying the cats and each other to be therapeutic,” explained Purrdue.
Although students have had mixed feelings about the cats, regardless of their stance, stress levels have gone up, either because of their worry for the wellbeing of the cats or their hatred towards them.
“First it was flies, now it’s cats, what are we going to have on campus next? Camels? Goats?” asked sophomore Namar Katz. “This is absolutely ridiculous.”
Others believe that the student body’s attitude towards the cats must reflect the university’s mission of inclusivity and cooperation.
“How can we call ourselves global leaders if we can’t be compassionate towards those smaller and weaker than us?” pondered senior John Bloom while swatting away at a fly buzzing about his plate of food.
At the present time CaLiCoCo is moving the cats to a special enclosed space in the desert near campus, a temporary Purr-gatory, while discussing the possibility of granting them refugee status within the NYUAD community.
Paula Valentina Dozsa is a columnist. Email her at [email protected]