8 Ways Your Pet (and You) Can and Will Survive Being Separated During College.

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Maybe it’s just me, but my pet is my soulmate. She’s my spirit animal and my totem. I swear if she could speak, my voice would come out. She’s a sassy little sh*t, but I love her more than anything in the world. And for that reason, I knew bringing her to a tiny apartment on the corner of a busy intersection would be a bad idea. I know it would be torture never getting to play outside. Plus she would get lonely (and destructive) if I left her alone for a full school day, followed by a full work night. The hardest part about being a pet parent is deciding what’s best for your furry angels. Sneaking forbidden pets into a dorm, for instance, might not be ideal for your buddy. Here’s a few tips to keep pets’ (and your) spirits up while you’re away at school.

  1. Ask Family to Play Bigger Role. Having family members take on more responsibility with your pet will help him/her adjust to you being gone. For instance, if you always walked Fido and all of a sudden your brother is the one with the leash and you are nowhere to be found, this can cause some anxiety for pets. It will also provide you some comfort knowing your family is playing in active role in maintaining Fido’s happiness.
  2. Video chat – As goofy as it sounds, seeing your baby alert and aware can provide so much more than a picture. Plus, if your pet can recognize you in the screen, you both can interact and feel reconnected.
  3. Don’t Make a Big Deal of Goodbyes. At least in front of your buddy. If you’re expecting a tearful goodbye, have a distraction prepared for your pet. Animals can feel the emotion of their owners. If you don’t make a big deal of the goodbye in front of her, it will help prevent depression once you’re gone. You don’t want to start a semester with the distraction of concern for your buddy’s depressive state.
  4. Speaker Phone – If your pet is attached to your voice, speaker phone can be surprisingly comforting. Even if you’re just catching up with your family, being on speakerphone where your pet can hear might ease some of the discomfort of being separated.
  5. Frame and Display Pictures. This one is all for you, students. When you used to spend every night cuddled with your baby, a new home just doesn’t feel like home without their presence. Sometimes, just looking at the photo on the nightstand is enough.
  6. Video of Cuddles. Maybe it’s just me, but on my last night at home, I recorded a video of my kitten crawling into my lap for our nightly cuddle sesh. I knew it would possibly be my last chance to cuddle with her before bed.
  7. Visits, and more Visits. Remember that time you wanted a college as far away from Mom and Dad as possible? Now you’re wondering how many trips home you can afford until the next holiday. Go spend time with the only ones who have truly never judged you for your pajama weekend Netflix binges. Fortunately, I live close enough to home for my kitten to visit the apartment for the day. However, every situation is different. And I took the only spare bed with me, so the only night time cuddles I’ll ever get again will be in the apartment – and you know how long it takes cats to adjust and relax in new surroundings.
  8. Watch for Health Concerns. It’s not unheard of for pet to develop depression and anxiety during bouts of change. In fact, some pets tend to act out when you change the furniture placement. When their humans move away, especially their favorite human, it can create some trauma in their lives. Make sure your family watches eating habits, behavioral changes, and potential illness. Alert your Vet if you see any significant concerns. Sometimes the cure is as simple as a good belly rub from their one true best friend. But other times, some professional intervention may be best for your pet’s health and safety.

Leaving your best friend its hard. I know. I actually made a trip back home so I could prepare this post with her on my lap. But if you’re as in love with your pet as she is with you, you’ll find ways to make it work. Just communicate, keep your eyes out for warnings, and cuddle every chance you get.

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