Sure, you might think you're a dog person or be really into chinchillas. But, hear me out. Cats are the most dopamine-inducing, low-maintenance companions you can possibly have, and we all need some companionship nowadays. Indeed, they check all the boxes that COVID has left empty. 

We're all spending a lot of time at home, and with that comes the necessity of creating a cozier home life than we ever thought we'd need. Plus, with such limited social interaction, maybe a pet to care for and befriend is just what we all need.

While dogs are often animal lovers' favorite pets, they can be very high maintenance, especially as college students. Frankly, most students don't have the space or time to accommodate such large and rambunctious animals.

So, maybe dogs aren't the way to go. At least for now.

A few weeks into the school year, I knew I would need more love and warmth at home to get me through online school. My roommates and I put in applications at the SPCA for every kitten we saw, hoping we would get a call back. Soon enough, a kitten came into our lives and filled that missing piece of warmth. 

When you're feeling sad, or sick, or just tired, they're there. While sometimes moodier or less overtly affectionate than dogs, if you spend enough time with them and give them enough love, they will definitely come to love you.

Not to mention, cats are extremely independent. There's no need to stress about making sure they're fed or taking them outside. They just live within your space, and eventually, they start to be an essential part of home life.

My kitten, Tofu, is just now hitting four months old. He knows how to use the litterbox, where to get his food, which things he's supposed to touch and which things he's not– it's been so simple. He's also super social and willing to jump on laps like nobody's business. While I may just be lucky, I don't think my story is unrealistic for many other college students.

According to the Smithsonian Magazine, the earliest physical evidence of cats living with humans dates back 12,000 years. However, the skeletons of wild and domesticated cats are too similar to really tell. Their wildness is part of their charm, a staple of any home during any time period. 

Our relationship with these independent creatures lives on today, even in our cramped Clifton homes and housed among dozens of roommates. 

It's honestly hard to describe how cute Tofu is. Every time he comes into my zoom camera view, my class erupts in smiles. Not only has he brought joy to me long-term, he's also the reason someone smiles some days. 

If you need inspiration, check out The News Record's recent photo essay of staff and readers' cats for National Cat Day, where you'll find an array of the cutest kittens and fluffy full-grown cats. If you don't currently love cats, now is definitely the time to start.