Tatiana Pereda, a senior biochemistry and Spanish double major, poses with her surprisingly photogenic cat, Ellie. Photo by Elle Rotter.
ELLE ROTTER | STAFF REPORTER | firstname.lastname@example.org
Although Butler’s mascot is the infamous bulldog, the campus is home to many other types of animals including a variety of dogs, cats and parrots. These animals that live on campus act as furry and feathery emotional support for students year-round; they are Emotional Support Animals (ESAs).
Tatiana and Ellie
Ellie is a half-tabby, half-calico domestic shorthair cat, and she is almost 2 years old. Photo by Elle Rotter.
Tatiana Pereda, a senior biochemistry and Spanish double major, got her cat Ellie during the spring semester of 2023. She started the process of filing for an ESA in January 2023. When she got approved, she went to the Nine Lives Cat Café where she found Ellie.
“I knew that I wanted a cat,” Pereda said. “I just saw her and fell in love with the way she looked, and she was very silly, very feisty, and that’s the kind of cat that I grew up with. She’s cuddly when she wants to be, but she’s also crazy and chaotic. She makes me laugh a lot.”
Pereda calls Ellie a “crazy” cat because she often has the zoomies and is a very playful cat, but she still feels as if they have a strong bond.
“Loyalty is the first thing that comes to mind,” Pereda said. “When she makes a connection with someone, she is very deeply connected with them. She is very particular. [I appreciate] the connection that we have and how dedicated and caring she is. I also love how you have to work toward creating that bond with a cat, and I think that’s what I love the most about her: that connection that we have.”
Caroline and Georgia
Sophomore marketing major Caroline Blake and her pet bulldog Georgia enjoy time outside together. Photo by Grace Hensley.
Sophomore marketing major Caroline Blake got her ESA dog a year and a half ago, but the fall semester of 2023 was the first time Georgia joined her on campus. Georgia’s favorite thing to do on campus is go on walks to Starbucks — mainly with the hopes of enjoying a pup cup.
“If I take her outside, she insists on coming to Starbucks,” Blake said. “She knows the route. She’s stubborn, but she’s very sweet. She’s a very stubborn walker. She has tons of energy, and she just doesn’t want to walk. So, I normally have to entice her by walking to Starbucks. That will get her walking.”
Blake lives in the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority house with Georgia. Georgia is a social dog, and as a result, loves living in the house because she gets a lot of love and attention from all of Blake’s sorority sisters.
“If I ever have a daughter, I want her to have the same traits as Georgia because she is such a fiery spirit,” Blake said. “She’s such a tough cookie, but she’s also so lovable and sweet. She holds her ground, and she doesn’t take crap from anybody. I just love that about her. She knows who she is.”
Emi and Opal
Opal is a cockatiel, which is a social type of parrot that loves company and bonding with their owners. Photo by Elle Rotter.
Sophomore English major Emi Rosen chose a more unique pet when deciding what to get for her ESA. Emi’s pet cockatiel is named Opal.
“I’ve recently discovered since I got a bird that birds are just flying cats,” Rosen said. “[They have] very similar behavior. She will play with toys that are not designed for her and made for her.”
Rosen said there are many benefits to having a cockatiel as a college student because they are quieter than other parrots, require a limited amount of space and have a longer lifespan than most pets, living up to 30 years.
“She’s stuck with me for a while, but she is still much more chill than [other birds],” Rosen said. “So, it’s good for a dorm.”
Cockatiels require more time and effort than dogs or cats. This is because they need a lot more mental stimulation.
“I’m including her in everything that I do because that’s what keeps her happy, and she is more than curious about whatever the heck I am doing,” Rosen said.
McLean and Bella
Based on appearance Carter thinks that Bella is about 12 years old and might be part tabby, part Maine Coon. Photo by Elle Rotter.
McLean Carter, a sophomore arts administration major, brought his family cat, Bella, to Butler once he registered her as an ESA.
“One of my favorite things about living with her is that it makes [campus] feel so much more [like] home,” Carter said. “I’ve always had cats, and the routine of waking up and feeding the cat helps my routine. Nothing seems all that bad when the cats are around.”
Carter retells the story of how his family found Bella and why they decided to take her in.
“[At least] 10 years ago, my mom saw something on Facebook,” Carter said. “One of her friends had this cat wandering around their car dealership, and that was Bella. So we rescued her from there, and that’s kind of the whole story. She has been with us ever since.”
Carter said that all of his roommates love to be around Bella. When he is in the dorm, he will let Bella roam around the common area and hang out with the group.
“Yeah, she’s usually down to hang, and she’ll come sit on my lap or yell at me till I pet or feed her or whatever the case may be,” Carter said.
ESAs come in all types and breeds. However, different individuals need different ESAs to meet their specific needs. The process of applying for and registering an ESA is different for everyone and depends on what type of animal they are registering. Although the process may be difficult, the work is worth it so students can get the support they need.