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April Fools 2014 Banner University of Idaho

Kittens for All First-Year Students

A Pawsitive Experience

Happy April Fools!

All kitten aside, we're pleased to offer:
Be a Vandal! Apply Today!
A University of Idaho Student with her kitten

Sophomore Emily Rasch and her kitten Buster

This fall, incoming University of Idaho students will get more than their Vandal Cards on their first day. They’ll get kittens.

UI is proud to announce the Feline-Undergraduate Relationship for Retention Initiative, or FURRI. This innovative approach – the first of its kind in the nation – seeks to help each first-year student adjust to college life with the help of a furry friend.

“We ask our incoming students to care for each other. Adding cats to the mix will simply enhance this sense of community and shared responsibility,” says Felix Gatos, newly hired UI Vice President for Cats and Feline-Related Projects. “Plus, kittens are totally adorable.”

New UI President Chuck Staben says he is excited to implement FURRI alongside the existing slate of new-student support programs.

"We seek to start our new students off strong at the University of Idaho," Staben says."We have programs in place to ease the transition into university life, and the FURRI program provides a strong – and uniquely cute – complement to those programs."

Kitten-reception will be seamlessly integrated into New Student Orientation. First-years will choose their new kittens on the third floor of the Student Union Building, which will be fully converted into FURRI Central.

All First Year Students Issued Cats at University of Idaho, Meow.

Junior Jessica Greene with Bandit

Students will select among a variety of kitten options, from tabby to Abyssinian to hairless sphinx. Eight-week-old teeny tiny baby kittens will be available, as well as older cats from the local animal shelter for students who wish for a more mature feline companion.

For students who do not wish to pick up their kittens in person, the VandalStore will combine kitten delivery with their textbook delivery program.

And, for first-years who are allergic to cats or otherwise averse to kitten ownership, FURRI will offer hedgehogs, geckos and teacup pigs.

“Whatever a student’s kitten- or small-animal-related need, we will meet it,” says Tom Kleiner-Katzen, FURRI coordinator. “Our staff is prepared to answer questions, offer support and seek solutions. If a student needs a litter box, we have a full selection of boxes decorated with residence hall logos and Greek letters. Need a cat sitter while you go rafting? We can help. Need one of those little fuzzy mice with the bell in the middle? Done.”

In conjunction with the FURRI program, UI researchers have spent the past year studying the effects of cat ownership on wellbeing, positive social behaviors and scratching-post-purchasing. Their results so far indicate that kittens rank extremely high on the fluffiness-to-happiness matrix.

A Day in the Life: Buster's Day Off

Watch what happens when Buster gets loose on the University of Idaho campus - A student video by Bigg East Digital Media

To prepare for the full FURRI launch, a select group of UI students has been testing the kitten-ownership plan since fall 2013.

“Having Mister Wuffles in my life has dramatically enhanced my college experience,” says Caitlin Garfield, a sophomore from Sandpoint. “We go to basketball games, we visit art exhibits, we do everything together! Except for chemistry lab, I guess.”

Heathcliff Meo of Boise says caring for his calico, Daisy, has made his first year at the University of Idaho a success.

“Leaving home was a huge deal for me. I wasn’t sure I was ready,” Meo says. “But my classmates and professors welcomed me and Daisy with open arms. I can’t wait for the day when every Vandal gets a kitten.”

Did you know Vandals have a fierce sense of humor? Have a very happy April Fools' Day.