MSU Law brings pop-up cat cafe to campus

By Savannah Swix

With final exams and Commencement rapidly approaching, the Law College Building at Michigan State University can get pretty tense in late April.

But for a few hours on Wednesday, April 24, around 60 law students took a break from their pre-finals anxiety to study with some unorthodox instructors on the subjects of play and relaxation.

Their purr-fessors? Nine rescue cats from the Ingham County Animal Shelter.

A trip to a cat café in Charleston, SC, inspired Kelly Kussmaul, director of Marketing and Communications at MSU Law, to create a one-day cat lounge for law students. Her team didn't take much purr-suading.

"Everybody in our office was instantly on board," she said. "We're all animal lovers and cat owners, and this felt like a novel way to bring some fun to a really serious environment."

Students signed up for 20 minute time slots to hang out with adoptable shelter cats and eat homemade snacks: cookies, cupcakes, and cat-shaped cake pops. A team of dedicated shelter volunteers was also on-hand to ensure the cats' well-being throughout the event.

Dante, a handsome black bobtail who came to the Ingham County Animal Shelter with serious bite wounds, received loving pets and treats from his new future-lawyer friends. Jojo, ChiChi, and Diane chased rainbow string toys and laser pointers across the lounge area. And overstressed students were content to watch the more reserved cats (like Lacey, an elegant domestic longhair) sleeping peacefully on colorful perches and under tables.

Third year MSU Law student Lauren Sutter attended, and described the café as "the best way to spend a Wednesday."

"I absolutely loved being able to go into the cat café and just sit and hang out with some wonderful little cats," she said. "The atmosphere was so sweet and calm."

Fellow student Joshua Reznik shared her enthusiasm. "I think the cat café was a great thing for the students," he said. While he's graduating in a few weeks, he'd like to see the cats share their uniquely calming influence with other MSU Law students. "I hope that future students will have an opportunity to put felines before finals!"

The success of the first-time event presents the paw-sibility of turning the cat café into a Law College tradition. And while participants like the adorably petite Catnip Everdeen will certainly be in loving homes by the time the fall semester rolls around, the intense nature of legal education means that there will always be students who need a respite from their outlines and study groups.

"We know that law school is challenging," said Lawrence Ponoroff, dean of MSU Law. "This is a small gesture on our part to help our students manage the stress."

Published: Thu, May 02, 2019