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Tiger Times

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The School Newspaper of Texas High School

Tiger Times

The School Newspaper of Texas High School

Tiger Times

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Cats out of the bag

Agriculture class uses classroom pets for learning
Classroom+cat%2C+Farmer%2C+lays+on+desk+as+an+agriculture+student+works+quietly+on+his+Chromebook.+The+cats+help+teach+students+responsibility+and+overcome+fears+of+domesticated+animals.+
Sophie Keller
Classroom cat, Farmer, lays on desk as an agriculture student works quietly on his Chromebook. The cats help teach students responsibility and overcome fears of domesticated animals.

Entering the agriculture building, the sounds of meows greet you. As students work quietly at their desks, a fluffy creature hops on the table and sits beside them, observing their movement. Classroom cats Farmer and Finneas help with demonstrations and keep students company.

Agriculture teacher Kim Spaulding housed cats in her classrooms for many years, from her first classroom cat over 15 years ago, Tiger Lily, to her most recent additions, Farmer and Finneas.

“I teach a couple of classes including veterinary medical applications and small animal management where cats are often in the center of the curriculum,” Spaulding said. “One of the cats has an ear issue as well, so they’re able to administer appropriate care along with the daily chores that are associated with owning a cat that they are responsible for maintaining.”

Farmer’s ear issues need to be addressed daily. Typically, senior Gabi Lancaster is in charge of administering the medicine to him. Because of this, Lancaster spends a lot of quality time with both cats and believes them to be beneficial to the classroom environment.

“I think that [the cats] being in there helps people feel more comfortable and look forward to going to the class,” Lancaster said. “Even me personally, I enjoy being in there and getting to hold them. Especially when I’m stressed, I like to sit there with them until I can fully calm down.” 

Typically, these cats tend to follow a pretty consistent routine. Although having classroom cats is definitely a luxury in many ways, it may be difficult to get used to navigating as taking care of animals is a full-time job in itself. 

“Over the weekends, I usually come up on Sunday afternoons just to check on them. It’s a good thing, here recently I came up here and they were both in the backyard,” Spaulding said. “The custodians let me know they were here and saw the back door open and shut it, so from Friday to Sunday, they were just living their best life.” 

Since Spaulding likes to leave a lot of the care in the hands of students, senior Hannah Crysel has picked up on some of the characteristics of the cats, specifically Finneas. 

“I like Finneas particularly because he’s kind of a creeper,” Crysel said. “Even though he doesn’t really want anything to do with people as far as being picked up and stuff, he has some funny moments that you only really notice if you pay close attention to him.”

Spaulding broke the mold and created a space for students that involves an immersive agriculture environment from directly inside the classroom, often something that isn’t typically seen. She took the initiative and turned something that people may not see into a vital focal point of her entire curriculum. 

“Having cats in the classroom has not only instilled a sense of responsibility, but students that are afraid of cats or other animals can begin to overcome their fears with the lessons that they learn over time in my classroom,” Spaulding said. “I’ve seen miraculous things happen time and time again, and this is my 27th year [teaching].”

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About the Contributors
Kate West
Kate West, Staff Writer
Kate West is a new addition to the THS Publications team. She is a hard worker and is dedicated in almost every aspect of life. West will work on any task at hand, no matter how hard or frustrating it is. Her interests outside of writing consist of playing with her dogs, spending time with family and painting. She is more than excited to see what newspaper has to offer. 
Sophie Keller
Sophie Keller, Editor-In-Chief
Sophie Keller is the Editor-in-Chief of Tiger Times and is a senior in her third year of newspaper. She’s involved in a variety of clubs ranging from National Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta to robotics and Student Council. She’s an aspiring writer and hopes to pursue something at least akin to journalism after she graduates. 

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