By Anna Lowenthal, Columnist

If you ever venture past the east side of campus, you just might notice that Illinois Wesleyan University has some canine and feline visitors. While many of us pet-friendly folk are compelled to snuggle up to every ball of fluff we see, it may be best to think twice before chasing after stray cats, petting unfamiliar dogs or approaching any other animals found on campus.

While it may be tempting, picking up cats off the street and bringing them into homes might not be the best idea. Many of these feral cats may be less friendly than we hope and could be carrying diseases.

Nobody wants our student body to experience an outbreak of rabies, so please weigh the pros and cons before you go to pet that cat because he looks like your pet cat Tiger.

Not only have people been taking interest in campus kitties, but they’re also indulging their fuzzy animal cravings by running up to unsuspecting dog walkers and stealing a kiss from their puppy.

While this is acceptable most of the time, we all have to remember that, like some cats, not all dogs are friendly. It’s best to ask permission from the owner before cuddling their pet to make sure you and the dog are both comfortable and safe.

Other animals catching the eyes of pet-deprived students are the squirrels and bunnies that also call Illinois Wesleyan home. I’ve even found myself wanting to quietly sneak up and grab one of them. Luckily, I have some self-control and understand it probably isn’t the best idea to capture wildlife.

And I’m sure we’ve all heard the stories about the guy who caught and tamed a squirrel on his college campus. But just because someone else tried it doesn’t mean we have to or should.

Squirrels and bunnies can be some of the most foul, cruel and bad-tempered rodents you’ve ever set eyes on, so be careful. And, just like cats and some people, you never truly know what they’re carrying. It’s never wrong to gradually make it to the heavy petting stage of your relationship, but make sure you to get to know them first.

Though several students have taken things too far and tried to sneak a cat into their dorm room, I think it’s a good idea to have an animal in your apartment or other off-campus housing. Why not incorporate some of our home comforts into the comforts of college life? Time spent with cats is never wasted, right?

For those of you not living off-campus, I highly recommend getting a fish. They are cheap, low maintenance and are fabulous listeners if you’re into talking to your pets. Don’t be discouraged if they don’t answer—they will love you just as much as you love them.

While I think it’s a wonderful idea for some students to own animals, not all of us are up to the task. Keep in mind that we are all very busy, and our pets need attention just like we do. So, before you start thinking of bringing an animal into your college environment, consider the amount of time you will spend with it and the overall quality of the life it will have here.
Having a pet is similar to having a child, and many of us already forget to feed and clean up after ourselves. Try to remember this before you commit to bringing a fuzzy loved one into your college home.