UCA Cat Diaries: Dorm Room ‘Tails’

Just under two years ago, calico kitten Estelle Chappelle found herself abandoned and alone on the bustling, frigid sidewalks of UCA after living inside a cramped dorm room for a less than a month.

Like most students, Estelle couldn’t have fathomed the horror ahead when she first came to campus.

(Quotes translated from tail wags and meows by Morgan Embry)

“My human seemed so nice at first,” Estelle said while glaring at a blank space on the wall. “I had plenty of food, time to cuddle and she wouldn’t get that mad when I scratched her.”

However, she said as the semester went on, it became clear that she did not belong in the compact cinderblock room. Her human could not balance the responsibilities of raising a kitten while attending college full time.

“You know, I was just a kitten and I was naive,” Estelle said while still staring at the same blank space on the wall. “But, as time went on, I realized that something was wrong. I wasn’t allowed anywhere but this tiny room. There was hardly enough room for me to pace or sunbathe. So, when I felt cramped, I would sing my sorrows to no prevail.”

As the semester went on, the conditions Estelle was forced to live in only worsened.

Estelle said her human engaged in underage drinking and sexual activities directly in front of her.

“She would be gone for hours on end and come back belligerent – sometimes with a boy human. Nights like those I would see the bottom of my food bowl or maybe notice that my litter box wasn’t cleaned immediately,” she said still staring at that damn spot on the wall, “and when I tried to tell my human, I’d be forced off of the bed. She wouldn’t even let me cuddle her.”

Estelle became obviously uncomfortable when recounting her abandonment.

“I remember that my food bowl was half empty, so I was trying to tell my human the way I know best – by meowing and crying as loud as I could,” Estelle said. “I was in the middle of explaining to her that soon I was literally going to starve to death when someone knocked on the door. A human dressed in a uniform came into the room and the next thing I knew, I was on the streets.”

Her owner’s Residential Assistant and UCAPD told her that keeping Estelle was against school policy. Her human left her by Harrin Hall later that night.
Estelle grew frail.

“It was awful at first,” she said. “I was so hungry and scared. I hadn’t left that jail cell of a room for a month. I had nowhere to go, no one to talk to. Luckily, after a while I found other stray cats in the area. They showed me how to steal food from the trash, and I felt welcomed into their family.”

Now, Estelle lives with about 15 other stray cats on campus who wander at night to find spare food. Despite the hard lifestyle Estelle has found herself in, she has also found a sense of belonging and wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I’m happy now,” Estelle said. “I have a family and I really feel like I belong.”

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