Pet Friendly Universities: 10 Colleges That Love Your Cat or Dog

Are you worried about leaving your pet behind when you head to college? Results of research being conducted across the world support the claim that animals, do indeed, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and increase exercising, all of which help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Others even claim that animals contribute to reducing anxiety, depression and can improve self-esteem.

University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignePet companionship might be welcomed during a stress-filled college year, but not every college welcomes pets. “The fact is that students miss their pets, sometimes more than they miss their families,” said Anna Beth Payne, associate dean of student life and director of the Susquehanna University‘s counseling center. Although this college does not allow pets, they have “Dog Days,” where freshman students can become acquainted with faculty pets to adjust to a new environment.

Although most colleges allow fish tanks and some allow small reptiles kept in glass tanks, less than one dozen colleges in the U.S. allow pets. The following list, compiled in alphabetical order, contains colleges that welcome furry and some not-so-furry pets, with certain restrictions in most cases.

  1. California Institute of TechnologyCalifornia Institute of Technology: Although CalTech, located in Pasadena, California, has long been known as one of the nation’s most cat-friendly campuses, a current moratorium is in place until the new Housing Cat Policy is approved. But, hope for cat lovers is abundant, especially with the Caltech Animal Team (CAT) program. This group is a club of volunteers who support the care of feral and abandoned pets, especially cats. Their policies for feral cat communities have been adopted by other educational institutions such as Stanford, Cal Poly (California Polytechnic State University) and the University of Texas at Austin.
  2. Eckard CollegeEckerd College: Eckerd College consulted with Stephens College (listed below) to define their pet policies. This Gulf Coast college in Florida allows residents to bring their family pet to live on campus while the student is enrolled in classes. The Eckerd definition of a ‘pet’ includes cats, dogs (under 40 pounds), rabbits, ducks and ferrets. The college defines ‘domestic animal’ as a fish, small bird, hamster, gerbil, guinea pig, any amphibian and reptile and these animals must be properly registered with the student-run Pet Council before residing on campus. All domestic animals are permitted in all residential halls, and must be secured in cages and any wet aquarium cannot exceed twenty gallons. Pets are permitted only in the following designated residential houses: Prasch in Alpha Complex; Darwin in Beta Complex; Scott in Kappa Complex and staff housing.
  3. Lehigh UniversityLehigh University: Located in the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, Lehigh University allows a maximum of one cat or one dog within any fraternity or sorority house on campus. A cat or dog must reside and be contained within the house at all times, except when transported to the outside of the building in a pet carrier or secured on a leash. When in the house common areas, the dog or cat must be accompanied by a member of the house. Students who own a cat or dog must ensure that their animal does not interfere with the normal activities of the house or cause difficulties for staff who work in the house, or other students who reside there. Sensitivity to students and others with allergies and to those who fear dogs, cats, or other animals is imperative, and extensive investigation into the breed and size of dog is conducted before approval.
  4. Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyMassachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT is one of the world’s premiere technical institutions and it is one of the most cat-friendly campuses in the country. The school allows feline companions in four of the university dormitories as long as owners have written consent from their roommates. The cats must be approved by the dorm’s “Pet Chair,” have all their shots, be registered with the campus housing office and neutered as well. Cats are only allowed in areas of East Campus, Senior House, Bexley Hall and Random Hall specified by and on file in the Housing Office. MIT patterned their policies after those at CalTech (see above).
  5. Principia CollegePrincipia College: This is one of the Illinois colleges that has developed an Animal Relations Committee to help promote a safe and harmonious environment for students and pets. Pets allowed within college-owned housing include dogs, cats, rabbits, caged animals, and aquatic pets, and a wide range of on-campus and off-campus housing is open to student pets with various restrictions. In most cases, medium-sized (26-50 pounds) dogs are permitted and some residences allow two uncaged pets. In other residences, no uncaged pets are considered.
  6. SUNY CantonState University of New York at Canton: The Grasse River Community at SUNY Canton is a wing designed to provide a close-knit, family type living environment with caged pets (with prior approval). At this time, Grasse River does not permit dogs, birds or snakes and this wing also is designated as Alcohol Free. SUNY Canton established its pet friendly policy in 1996.
  7. Stephens CollegeStephens College: This women’s college in Missouri allows students to bring pets to live with students and has expanded their pet program this year. Students are required to live on campus throughout their time at Stephens, so the ability to bring your pet can help you with that transition. You can bring a dog, cat, hamster or guinea pig to live at Searcy Hall or Prunty, but Hillcrest Hall has adopted a pet policy this year as well. Stephens’ students also can keep a horse in campus stables. The Central Missouri Humane Society helped Stephens craft their pet policies.
  8. University of IdahoUniversity of Idaho: Located in Moscow, Idaho, all of this university’s housing apartments are pet friendly. Approved pets include fish in aquariums, cats and birds. Up to two cats or birds are acceptable per aparemtn, but all cats must be spayed or neutered and all birds must be caged. “No other pets – including ferrets, rodents, rabbits, snakes, lizards, or exotic animals, etc…are allowed.” Before you move into your residence, you must provide a copy of a veterinarian-signed proof that the animal has been sprayed or neutered and all necessary vaccinations and shots are current. Plus, all pet owners must carry appropriate liability insurance that covers bodily injury (including from bites) with a minimum $50,000 of coverage.
  9. University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaigneUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: Students who reside in this college’s Ashton Woods housing unit are allowed to keep pets such as dogs, cats and rabbits as well as fish. Students may keep up to two pets per apartment, but only after approval. Only common household pets considered companion animals and fish tanks of 50 gallons or less will be allowed. Pets also are allowed for those students who choose Homestay residency, but only if host families allow pets.
  10. Washington and Jefferson CollegeWashington & Jefferson College: This liberal arts school in the suburbs of Pittsburgh is one of two Pennsylvania colleges that allow students to bring their family pets along to school and live in the “Pet House” dorm. There are some breed restrictions, but Washington & Jefferson College permits cats, dogs less than 40 pounds, small birds, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, turtles and fish. Other animals may be permitted on a case-by-case basis. Pets must be spayed or neutered, have been owned by the students’ family for at least a year and registered.