A mage heads to college, but for the courses she wants to take there is a prerequisite...a familiar.
Following the directions of the dean of students, Imara goes to get her familiar. She is informed that she is entitled to the familiar of her family, even though she can't claim a relationship to her own kin.
A ceremony to determine what form she needs the familiar to take wracks her nerves, but what calms them is her familiar walking out of the portal.
What better than a kitten for relieving stress, even if the shape holds one of the most homicidal mages of all time? He still has a fuzzy belly.