I’ve been getting along better with animals than with people of late. I was at a friend’s place, we’d stumbled in late after a night out and settled down to study – we had a paper two days later – late into the night. I got acquainted with one of the dogs there and soon he curled up on my feet and promptly fell asleep – cutest thing ever.
I’ve always wanted to have a dog. For the longest time as a kid, I had a pet balloon (in my head, he was a dog) which I would drag along on a piece of string all over the house. His name was Timmy (inspired by Famous Five. I was very original) But balloons burst and our garden was too small for a canine, so that was that.
I think it began when a half starved, scrawny kitten landed in our garden, meowing piteously. My mum gave her a saucer of milk and this kitten adopted us and spawned the next few generations of cats which peppered our household. Kitten V.1.0 grew to be a magnificent, lofty creature who could hold her own anywhere, anytime. Our backyard used to be dotted with her vocal admirers. It used to get so bad that we weren’t able to sleep with all the caterwauling going on. But a quick jug of water fixed things.
There was once a time when the cats outnumbered the humans in the household 3:1 (both mother and daughter became pregnant at the same time. We suspect a common father. So much scandal). Sadly, we couldn’t keep all of them. My allergies started acting up and my parent’s sanity and the furniture started to fray rapidly.
So the cats came and went. My favourite to date was Lilo. We named her Stitch initially, after the Disney movie but she refused to acknowledge her name. I’ve always suspected that she was really a dog trapped in a cat’s body. I’m yet to see that kind of loyalty and affection in any cat. She was a cat among cats but she had two premature pregnancies and died during the second one. I was heartbroken and the cat population in the household dwindled to zero for a while because I didn’t have the heart to get attached to another feline all over again.
Somewhere down the line afterwards, a cat walked in into our house and deposited her trio of kittens . We’d never seen this cat before and we desperately tried to shoo her away but this eyesore of a cat (she was every conceivable colour possible) just looked at us placidly in utmost condescension as if to say, ‘Humans these days’. The thing with cats is that they do exactly as they please. All the cat blogs, memes and cartoons were right – you never own a cat. A cat owns you.
Four years afterwards, one of the trio still remains with us. He’s the only cat who’s stuck around with us this long and he’s the laziest, scrawniest cat you ever saw and he’s constantly getting into fights, coming home with patches of fur missing. Age hasn’t treated him very well. He’s deteriorated from a serial heart breaker to the pervy old man who hits on nubile young things in bars and airports. But he’s my old, scrawny cat and I miss him terribly.
I returned home briefly a few months ago to visit my grandmother and during my visit he fell horribly sick. His leg had gotten infected (another cat-fight) and we took him to the vet for a shot. The vet, after a cursory glance gave him a shot and sent us away. What we didn’t know was that my cat wasn’t well and the shot the vet gave him resulted in an adverse reaction. He completely spazzed out and ran next door in a frenzy when we came home. From our balcony, we saw him on the next door neighbour’s doorstep having a series of fits and foaming at the mouth. After climbing over the neighbour’s gate we brought him back home in a blanket. His eyes were glazed, his thin body kept seizing violently every two minutes, peeing and foaming constantly. With all our experience with cats, we’d never seen anything like this before. He was in so much pain, but we had no idea how to help him. I was in tears, my vet wasn’t answering my calls and everyone was freaking out. We honestly thought that he was going to die. The way he was foaming and seizing left us little hope.
A quick tweet, some frantic googling and responses from various people later (thanks so much to everyone who directed me. You have no idea how much I appreciate it. Twitter can be a saviour sometimes) I called Pets V care and a mobile unit was on the way.
The team arrived within an hour and were extremely thorough, they worked on the poor fellow for well over an hour and the foaming and the seizing finally stopped. They hooked him onto a drip and came back the next day for a follow up. On an aside, I would completely recommend their services. They’re a little on the steep side because you’re charged for the mileage but they’re well worth it. Here’s their site http://www.petsvcare.com/
The thing is as soon as you begin with the words “So my cat was sick..” in a conversation, people begin smirking and you can almost see the neon ‘Aiyo. Another mad cat lady’ thought bubble flashing above their heads. Doting on dogs is deemed normal, but for some strange reason cat adoration conjures up images of this.
I think that somewhere deep down buried in the cat hair settled in my body, I’m a secret dog person (they’re so gloriously needy and make you feel so wanted) but I’ve embraced the cat lady-ness now. Despite their self centeredness, cats like other animals, possess that innate sixth sense that we humans sorely lack. Whenever I would feel low, he would clumsily clamber on to my lap and fall asleep on my lap, purring quietly. Instant perk – me –up.
He was on the mend soon afterwards – completely pimped the bandage on his leg and perfected the survivor swagger.
He’s not a very domestic cat – his taste in food is primitive, he smells sometimes, he’s always out, deigning to come home for hugs, meals and the occasional nap – or we’re not very good pet owners. I don’t know, which. You can’t keep a cat cooped up in a house, just isn’t right. So we let him do what he needs to do and trust that he’ll come home every now and then – and he always does.
Update: Although I wasn’t aware of it at that time, my cat had already died even before this post came out. It turned out he hadn’t made a full recovery like I thought he had and had passed away a few days after I’d returned to Delhi in October. I wish I had known before. Thinking he had gotten better and getting my hopes up to return home and find that he hadn’t, hurt a lot more. I know he was ‘just a cat’ and I feel stupid for even acknowledging this , but I miss him.