It’s a Dog’s life
I come from a family of dog-lovers: 3 generations of them. Dogs are loyal, intelligent and loving. They occupy your heart and leave no room for cats. Yet, my cat-loving friends say– No, cats are something more. Perhaps. Like, cats are loyal (only to the territory) smart (as in manipulative) and loving (when there is quid pro quo)? So what’s a bunch of cats doing in Dog-Territory? Here’s the low down.
Greycat must have planned it long ago. She had already surveyed the place meticulously. She had sunned herself on the roof of our out-house, cooled herself in the verandah, rolled in the grass and slept in the backyard. And there was the old pump-house for amoral adventures! Yes, our house was the ultimate dream estate of any feline.
We have had animal intruders before — stray dogs, bandicoots, mongoose and even an occasional cow or pig. A little show of authority (like pretending to pick a stone) was enough to discourage them. Greycat was something else. Once she moved in, she did with a sense of ownership. The usual stone-throwing act had no effect on her. While other animals turned tail at the sight of a stone in Anu’s hand, she merely stared into our eyes. (She had done her research already: this house of vegetarians had no guts even to scratch an animal) Huh, her stare was not even aggressive; it was a bored look !
… and lust
Pump-house became the Lover’s Lane in mating season. Every night she entertained males of doubtful virtue. Often, Greycat and her beau-of-the-night argued as to who should do what to whom. Greycat was a militant feminist who finally had her say, but the caterwauling before the surrender of her suitor was unbearable. Anu loudly tried to “shoo” the violent lovers away, but she only lost more sleep. Clearly, Greycat was the Zamindarini and we were the gulam-mazdoor.
Abruptly, the season got over and Greycat disappeared. Thankfully, no more orgies! Several weeks later Greycat returned—like a bahuraani leaving her Sasuraal for delivery in her Maika (I am not sure she married the biological father, though). Indeed she delivered 2 adorable kittens.
I was always against this cat-colonisation and wanted to evict the invaders, pronto. But Greycat had already figured out a backdoor entry. Literally. She went to the backyard and gave Anu long soulful looks whenever she went to dry clothes. She appealed mother-to-mother until Anu’s heart became all mushy-mushy.
It didn’t need a Greycat to find out that Anu outranks me in the hierarchy. The Cat-family was given permanent citizenship with Aadhaar Cards!
Food for love
Everyday Greycat would bring fine-dining from the outside: rats, birds and the like. This was alright, we are “liberal” vegetarians anyway; but she expected us to do the dishes after the meal! Some days she felt she was entitled to a holiday— so she would wait for Anu to come out, and then give the “I-have-2-kids-to-feed” look, till she got a bowlful of milk. The nerve!
My New Honda Kitty
Greycat’s last problem was: how to protect her young ones from predators when she was hunting? Greycat had that covered too, as I found out one morning. I have a Honda City car, that “purrs” immediately when I start. On that day it “meowed”. I opened the bonnet and found the 2 kittens frolicking in the vacant spaces around the engine. Greycat’s logic: which predator would forage inside the engine compartment?
Nowadays, I tap the car several times before starting it, to chase the kittens in the bonnet— Roast Cat is not my favourite dish. My neighbours give me a curious look: what new superstitious ritual has this cranky man devised? Oh doggone, CATastrophe!
Zamindarini: Wife of the feudal lord cum owner of the farmland
Gulam-mazdoor = Bonded labour
Bahuraani = Daughter-in-law of the house
Maika = Mother’s house
Sasuraal= House of the in-laws
Aadhaar Card= id card
Almost all the photos were taken by Anu with her cell phone. She is really quick on the draw and besides, why would I photograph a cat???