Anyone who knows me knows I have never really been a cat lover. Cats are incredibly unpredictable and more aloof than dogs. I’m also highly allergic to them, and that basically has given me the only reason I needed to never be near them. Last weekend, however, I was provided with the opportunity to catsit for my faculty adviser, Alison Andersen, a professor in the theater department.
One of the things I like most about Conn is the opportunity to build relationships with staff and faculty members, regardless of their position. Our student to faculty ratio is nine to one, which means smaller class sizes, fewer class sections and more opportunities to truly get to know your professors. On any given day, you can find Conn students walking a dean’s dog, babysitting their professor’s children, or even spending Thanksgiving with their adviser and their family. These kinds of opportunities allow students to connect with staff and faculty members beyond the offices and classrooms and vice versa. When Alison first reached out to me I was both surprised and somewhat honored. I was surprised that she reached out to someone who is allergic to cats, although it turns out she was unaware of this. But I was still honored that she trusted me enough to look after her cat, Goose.
So I agreed to sign on as Goose’s cat sitter and was even more relieved to find out that my friend Morgan would do the same when I wasn’t available.
My first time with Goose was interesting, to say the least. It was an hour I wish a camera crew could have filmed: a man, who is allergic to and not fond of cats tiptoeing around and avoiding eye contact with a sweet, mellow, skittish cat. For the few hours I stayed at Alison’s house that Saturday morning I thought there was no hope of Goose and I becoming best friends and that the weekend ahead would be rough.
I came back Saturday night only to find, to my chagrin, Goose hiding from me under the living room couch. I called his name a few times then braced myself for what I thought would happen next: him pouncing on me and me sneezing in response. To my luck (and his), fortunately, that never happened.
Sunday morning, I talked myself into making a goal that I would not leave Goose’s sight until we became friends, regardless of how it happened. I sat on the couch, gave Goose a pair of my old socks, and reached my hand over to his head to pet him, and he let me. After petting him for a solid five minutes, I felt my goal had been accomplished. It wasn’t until he started to purr and nuzzle my hand that I noticed how harmless and friendly Goose was. I realized he was probably slightly skittish during our first encounter only because I was equally skittish.
Morgan and I each spent part of the long weekend (from Saturday morning through Monday afternoon) regularly going to Alison’s apartment to feed, play with and check on Goose. Over the three days, I noticed both my allergic reaction to and slight fear of Goose diminished. At this point, I think it’s safe to say that we should be appointed as Goose’s godparents.
Many people and experiences have made me feel at home at Conn, but this one tops many others. Alison happens to be an amazing teacher, mentor, and adviser, but I couldn’t have ever guessed that through this relationship I would indeed become a cat person.