Should you get a cat in college?

My cat Theo

Written by Charaf Mrah

Hi there! I'm a Software Engineering major currently studying in college. The purpose of this website is to share my learnings and insights with you, in the hopes of providing value and assistance to those who may need it.

Updated Jan 30, 2021

Should you get a cat in college? If you’re asking this question then you’re at the right place.

!CUTENESS ALERT: I will be sharing cute pictures of my cat, that doesn’t mean you should go and get one now… jk jk… no seriously!

I personally loved cats (and animals in general) since I was a little kid. I would watch National Geographic documentaries for hours nonstop and read journals and books about them as well. Even my favorite toys as a baby were animal figures.

But unfortunately, my family didn’t, so I couldn’t have one as a kid.

My Mom always told me to get a cat when I’m living by myself. Long story short, I got a cat the very first day of me living by myself (technically I never lived by myself since I got Theo).

Theo was found in a street very scared as he’s 99% a house cat. Some douche kicked him out of the house as a baby. Fortunately, someone found Theo crying and published a post about the cat on a Facebook group while taking care of him for a while.

Since I have some experience with having a cat as a college student, I would like to share with you some of what you should expect as a new college student cat owner. From that, you can form your own judgment on whether you should get one yourself or not.


The thing that I evaluated the most before getting a cat was whether I had enough time to take care of the cat.

Turns out that cats don’t need much attention or time!

All you have to do is: clean the litter (5 mins max) + give food (5 mins max) + play with the cat (10-30 mins) = 20 – 40 minutes per day.

If you can adopt two cats it gets even easier as they’ll play with each other.

I find myself playing with Theo even longer than 30 minutes per day sometimes because I end up having extra time, or when I’m on the phone.

Another advantage of owning a cat over a dog for example is that you can leave them alone at home during the day (and even for 24-48 hours if you’re forced to). 

Cats can entertain themselves and many house cats know when to eat so they don’t eat everything when you put it and then starve the rest of the day (at least this is my experience with Theo).

So from the time perspective, cats are pretty good companions and they need low maintenance.


On the financial side, however, you will need to do some research.

Cats’ food & litter prices vary per country.

I would advise you to search for the cats’ food and litter price where you live as these are the two most important expenses.

Another expense is vaccines, but this will depend on the age of the cat (and your region as well). Younger cats will need more vaccines than already vaccinated adult cats.

Yet another expense is the sterilization/neutering surgery.

Related: Why you should Spay/Neuter Your Pet

In my experience, as a student studying abroad in Turkey, everything is relatively cheap.

I live in Istanbul which is the city with the most amount of cats in the world. The vets aren’t costly and I even got Theo sterilized for free. 

The food is also pretty cheap here (I believe it’s produced locally).

Long term:

The long term plan is something that you should consider carefully as well.

You don’t want to end up moving apartments/cities/countries suddenly and throwing your cat in the streets.

When the cat is living at home with you, it’ll lose the capability to live in the street(and most ppl get house cats, which can’t live in the streets anyway).

Many people in the “pets community” judge other people so much that it becomes toxic and you can feel afraid to ask for help.

I would just say value your situation and your finances and check whether you can afford to have a cat in the long term, not just in your 4 years as a college student.

I would even go as far as saying you should save money *IF POSSIBLE* to cover any pet emergencies (like traveling to another country if you’re abroad or moving cities or just something bad happening to your cat).

If you did plan right but things didn’t go to plan PLEASE DON’T PUT YOUR CAT IN THE STREETS. Reach out to other people for help, they can either help you take care of the cat or just transfer the cat to another house (worst-case scenario, try to avoid it).

Things happen but just plan to have your cat… for life, not just for monetary entertainment.


Before getting a cat, have a plan about your finances as well as time management (cats just need 10-40 mins of your time per day). Also don’t forget to check whether you can have a cat over in the first place, if you’re living in a dorm room, it’s probably not gonna happen 🙁  

Go to your local pet shop, or an online store and check the prices for litter and cats’ food in your area. Figure out how much money you’ll be spending per month and make your decision.

You should also check how much a visit to the vet and vaccines cost.

I would recommend you to get a cat that is struggling (because there’s a lot of them) rather than buying one from a pet shop.

Finally, when planning to get a cat, plan for the long term. Cats live about 13-20 years, and not just your 4 years of college. Get a cat to save its life rather than getting one then destroying its life by throwing it to the streets when you’re done with college.

Theo loves watching me play video games
But Calculus makes him go zZz..

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