CLINTON HILL — These campus kitties have friends in high places.
More than 1,300 students signed a petition in the past 48 hours asking Pratt Institute President Thomas Schutte to continue to accommodate Pratt's colony of stray cats, estimated to number in the hundreds. The petition comes in response to a new campaign to rid the campus of felines due to staff allergies.
"This is an important issue because these cats have graced the school with their presence for decades. The smiles and love they offer to students and faculty is invaluable," petitioner Yannis Trittas wrote. "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."
Trittas, a local animal lover, started the petition when he caught wind of the cats being evicted from the East Hall on campus.
"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," wrote Jolene Travis, spokeswoman for Pratt.
Students quickly rallied to save the cats.
"Relative to other colleges, Pratt doesn't have many querks or traditions," wrote recent graduate Brett Bachman. "We don't pay a lot of attention to our sports teams. The Pratt cats are all we have."
Another student wrote that removing the cats from their Pratt home would result in death for the furry campus-dwellers.
"There's hundreds of them, and they're not active little kittens anymore," wrote Sydney Brafman.
"Removing them from Pratt means putting them in kill-shelters, and a literal death sentence for many of them."
But Pratt officials recently issued a statement assuring students that Pratt cats will be safe.
"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 said in a statement.
Milster has been in charge of the school's power plant, providing heat and hot water to the campus, since 1958. He has nurtured the cats for decades, according to students. It is unclear how many cats he will be taking in.
Students plan to meet with administrative and facility heads on Friday, according to Trittas.