Section: archive

Taking care of campus critters

By Annie Sheslow

Here at Kenyon, it is easy to feel like a character straight out of a J.D. Salinger novel. Gambier may be the opposite of the lovingly neurotic and fast-paced Manhattan that serves as the setting for much of Salingers work, but if I squint, I think I could make the New Apts resemble a cramped but charming Riverside Park walkup (at least both styles of apartments share a similar bug problem), and the VI could be Ernies jazz club, where Holden Caulfield goes to hear some phony tickle the ivories. Like every other Salinger fan, I alternate between feeling like a pretentious hipster with an excessive fondness for Wes Anderson movies, pushing my large glasses up the bridge of my nose and saying quirky, symbol-laden things like its funny, it doesnt look like rain today in a quiet monotone, and feeling like I am Holden, and I have found some redeeming, pure, innocent quality of society that needs protection.

Recently, my Salinger Moment has been thinking a lot about Holdens ducks. You know, the ones that swim in the Central Park lake, and his worry about where they go in the winter. However, because my brain is like a Lazy Susan that spins, delivering and accepting information only on cats, food, sleep, Paul Newman and Jennifer Lawrence, I could not give a Sam-the-Puppys-ass about ducks. I am, in fact, more worried about our feline friends. Ever since I realized that I was not hallucinating, and that the campus actually hosts more stray cats than it does people who voted Romney, I have become increasingly worried about the kitty cats come these brutal winter months. In a totally non-psychopathic way, I see some of myself in cats. I understand their laziness, their occasional hatred of everything around them, and their insistence that a good time is playing with a piece of string while watching TV shows aimed at mothers in their forties, like anything on the Food Network. If I can barely motivate myself to put on my silver, puffy David Bowie/Elton John-inspired space coat each time I open the door, how are the cats even putting one perfect white paw in front of the other? Besides Bam Bam, who finds solace in the creaky wicker furniture of the Crozier porch, where do these cats go for a snuggle, a warm lap, or the last episode of Downton Abbey?

They most certainly do not come to me. When I catch sight of one of my (for arguments sake what I will call) brethren, I scan my periphery to see if there are any (judgmental) people around, and then, slowly, and without making sudden movements, edge my way toward said kitty. Keeping my weight low, I approach the target my arms extended, hoping to reach a pink nose. But alas, the cat makes a run for it and I am left jilted on Middle Path, my hands mimicking the scratch-behind-the-ears gesture in denial.

We must protect the campus cats. This should not be hard to do cats are all the rage now. There is a community both in the school and the world that wont judge me for watching Cats 101, for having a beaded cat change purse, or, in my younger days, being a subscriber to Cats and Kittens magazine. Charles Dickens once said, What greater gift than the love of a cat? The only thing that comes to mind is being able to proclaim a shame-free feline appreciation. After all, the first step is admitting there is a problem. The second step is filling an NCA with cat residents, and forcing them to attend weekly readings of Salingers Nine Stories. Snuggling is required.

Annie Sheslow 15 is an experienced cat owner, with a 17-year-old half-Siamese. Her favorite cats include Stevens, Zeta Jones, and Bloomberg, the kitty featured in Salingers Franny & Zooey. Her email is

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