A confident kitten who lives at Waterside Student Village has become popular among residents and is helping to put a smile on everyone’s faces.

The Bengal cat, recently discovered to be named Echo, has helped students to stay positive during lockdown.

Abbey Hayes has developed a friendship with the kitten and even named her Bella before discovering her real name: “Life living in university accommodation throughout a lockdown has been quite something. Some days are fine, but we all those off days where we all feel down in ourselves due to the repetitive routine of uni work, sitting, going for the odd walk, and repeat.

“When we first came across Bella/Echo, she put a smile on all our faces and it was a breath of fresh air. I know the separation between an owner and their pet is hard, I miss my dog whenever I’m away from him for a long period, so having a cat who visits the house every few days in a way keeps you going and reminds you of home!”

With 127 homes in the community, Echo receives a lot of love, but the love that she gives in return hasn’t gone unnoticed.

In a survey by London’s Mental Health Foundation in partnership with Cats Protection, 87% of cat owners said their four-legged companion positively influenced their mental health, and 76% gave their cat credit for helping them cope more effectively with life’s daily stressors.

With many student accommodations not allowing pets, it can be hard when people move away from home to adapt to a living situation which can, at times, feel quite lonely.

However, Echo isn’t shy and has been known to parade inside many of the residents’ accommodations to explore. 

Ella Hamlet, a resident and Salford student, found herself isolating for a total of four weeks, followed by the national lockdown and described how it was ‘debilitating’ for her mental health. However, she explains how Echo kept her going through the tough times: “Every day our highlight would be the daily visits at around 4pm.

“At first, we were hesitant due to her being someone else’s pet, however as she became more comfortable, we grew fonder. It was so nice seeing an animal, as being at uni you can go a while without having any contact with little furry ones. But, as the days went on and the visits kept coming, we began to give her a little treat and she’d spend a few hours here and there with us.”

She continued: “It was so nice to see she was comfortable as we got her a little cushion and she would spend the afternoon asleep and go off to the next house! Without these little visits, it would have been hard to complete lockdown and self-isolation within the same four walls without that little burst of excitement.”

Echo taking one of her afternoon naps. Credit: Emily Ball

With their gravity-defying antics and yoga-like sleeping postures, cats may also help us out of our bad moods. In a study by research gate, people with cats reported experiencing fewer negative emotions and feelings of seclusion than people without cats.

Georgia Morris is a resident, and also attends Salford University, she explained: “Having the cat come round to visit would always make us happy. It was like having a home comfort during a time we couldn’t go home. It was nice to feel like we had a pet to pay attention to, even though it wasn’t ours.”

Georgia Morris with Echo

Echo’s owner Chloe was surprised to hear the news of how her fur baby had been keeping residents joyful: “To hear she makes everyone so happy is both a shock and an honour to know our baby means so much to people who always stop to say hi.

“Having Echo is the strangest thing I could think of. Since she came here myself and my partner’s world have changed so much. She’s always with us and, even though we haven’t had her long, she is by far the greatest thing that has happened to us.”

We have no doubt that Echo will continue to put a smile on everyone’s faces.

One Comment

  1. Marguerite Durham

    Lovely story. Well done Gemma.

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