In mid September, a day before a tropical storm hit Shanghai, a conversation was initiated in the NYU Shanghai community group chat. 

“There are 5 cats (1 mother cat and 4 baby cats) near the T3 entrance.They have not eaten in the wind and rain, and they kept meowing. If anyone’s got any extra box or cat food, drop by.” 

“They are not afraid of humans, but be careful when petting them.”

The cats usually stay behind the outdoor air conditioning unit on the left side of T3’s entrance. But in heavy rain, they can only hide between a small triangular area between wooden planks and the wall. Neither the air conditioning unit nor the planks are suitable as a shelter from wind and rain. 

The message was sent on the evening of September 13, a day before the storm. After the message was delivered, students were quick to react. Chen Yimin, a sophomore living in T3, made a house out of discarded boxes and wrapped a plastic bag around it to make it water and windproof. She placed the box in the hallway near the T3 entrance, so that they are not directly exposed to the storm. However, it seemed like the cats did not like the box. “I have not ever seen them going in the box,” said Chen Yimin. “They tend to like the red box placed by other students, so I placed my box under the chair. ”

Students also brought bowls for the cats to ensure they have enough food and water. Another group of students also feed them snacks. “Their bowl is always full,” said Chen Yimin. “Their food [goat milk, water, and cat food] gets spoiled over time, so I had to dump them and wash the bowels several times.” According to Chen Yimin, they tend to not eat the food because students here always feed them snacks. They are never hungry. 

Immediately after the storm, the cats seem to have increased their trust in the community and wander around more often. Jinqiao students also expect their presence near the T3 building. I have seen students going to the corner of T3 to feed or greet the cats, and many also choose to stay near the bushes to hang out with the cats after they get back from school. 

In the interview with Chen Yimin, she also shared a new story about cats. The mother cat from this story has a name, Tabatha. It is said that Tabatha had been taken care of by NYU Shanghai students for a while, even before the Class of 2025 moved in. According to Chen Yimin, Tabatha is assumed to be a mixed-breed cat, of a Munchkin and a ginger cat. It is usually friendly with strangers.

In summer 2022, presumably a month after Tabatha gave birth, the students found her wounded. As Chen Yimin put it, “Tabatha had a fight with other stray cats in the neighborhood and was seriously injured. She had scratches all over her and she was very dehydrated.” The students quickly sent her to the animal hospital and cared for her one-month old kitten. At that time, the kittens’ teeth were not well developed and they were not weaning yet so the students had to feed them using nursing bottles. 

Both the instance of the storm and the hospitalization bring the NYUSH community and the kitties closer. With NYU Shanghai’s love and tolerance towards these animals, Tabatha and her children have become a part of the community. The community provided care to the stray cats by protecting and ensuring their growth. They have become children to the community.