Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute recently suffered a major loss when its Main Building went up in flames, destroying studios and students’ work, which might explain why the art school’s students are now fighting to safeguard another of their Clinton Hill campus’s distinctive features: Its many, many stray cats.
In response to a recent initiative by the school’s administration to get rid of the stray cats that have long been a fixture of campus life and are estimated to number in the hundreds, local resident Yannis Trittas launched a Change.org petition asking the school’s president Thomas Schutte to grant the feral yet friendly felines asylum, DNAinfo reports. The petition, which has since been closed, quickly garnered more than 1,600 signatures, but that wasn’t enough to dissuade the administration, which wants to evict the cats due to facilities staffers’ allergy concerns.
“Pratt Institute recently made an effort to reduce the high number of cats living on its Brooklyn campus due to a health issue affecting several members of the facilities team with serious cat allergies,” school spokesperson Jolene Travis wrote to DNAinfo. For some students, however, the cats’ symbolic and sentimental value far outweighed their capacity to provoke allergies.
“Relative to other colleges, Pratt doesn’t have many querks or traditions,” a recent graduate, Brett Bachman, wrote in the petition comments. “We don’t pay a lot of attention to our sports teams. The Pratt cats are all we have.”
By way of diffusing the situation, the administration opted to provide a safe haven for two of its felines-in-residence. “Two of the cats will remain living on the campus near the Institute’s Power Plant, but Chief Engineer Conrad Milster has volunteered to allow the rest of the cats to live in his home where he will take proper care of them,” Travis wrote.
By our count (hundreds minus two), Milster, who has been keeping the school’s power plant running and looking after its strays for decades, has just become the proud parent of hundreds of formerly homeless cats.
“This is an important issue because these cats have graced the school with their presence for decades,” Trittas wrote on Change.org. “The smiles and love they offer to students and faculty is invaluable. To evict these animals would be detrimental not only to the hundreds of students that have become close to them, but to the image and reputation of the administration itself.”
— Benjamin Sutton
(Pictured: Cat spotted in the Pratt Chemistry Building’s printmaking area. Photo via Pratt Institute, Department of Fine Arts/Facebook.)