Parenting A Pet
Preeti M. Shah, a social worker and environment enthusiast, finds loving companions in cats
Just in front of our house at Haldwani, a huge government nursery is situated. It is full of greenery and is also home to many birds, insects, cats, etc. In 2010, a kitten ventured inside our territory looking very weak. My father-in-law tried finding her mother. But, when no cat claimed the kitten for her baby, she became a part of our family. She was given the name, Sweety.
We visited the Haldwani home during summer and winter vacations and my kids were always very excited to be with Sweety. They declared they wanted a kitten for our Lucknow home as well. They were so happy playing and feeding Sweety in their vacations and always missed her terribly after coming back to Lucknow. I was heading a CSR wing of a leading newspaper in those days and found that next to my office, a store room for old newspapers was home to three small kittens with their mother. I came home and shared this news with my kids. They declared immediately that either a kitten should be home or I should stay back in the office!
Finally, a fragile brownish-looking kitten was brought home from the office. He was picked up when their mother had left the lot on their own. It was more like a mouse. We named him Toffee. In the beginning, Toffee refused to accept any of us and was fond of sleeping on my hair at night or in the shoe box which was turned into his bed with a cozy cloth. Now, though, Toffee has turned out to be a very beautiful tom cat. Toffee became a part of our life and the kids were happy to play with him. Our veterinarian had informed us that it was a wild breed and would like to eat only non-vegetarian food or cat food. Toffee had its own mood swings and liking for people. He thought I was his biological mother and resented anyone coming near me. Whenever I took him on my lap, he closed his eyes as if it was the most secure place for him.
He traveled with us in the car whenever we went out of the station. My second son used to tease him by pretending that he was beating Mumma (me) and Toffee would always come to act very protectively towards me. Clutching his brother (my son)’s leg with his sharp claws was a way to show that he would not tolerate any misbehaviour towards his Mumma (me). Unfortunately, Toffee had spent only 11 years with us when he passed away from a liver ailment. Now, when my both in-laws have left this world, Sweety came to be a part of our family since 2014. She is as sweet as her name, A very calm and good-natured cat with lots of affection. Earlier, we were parents of many dogs, but these two cats have shown us that a cat can also be a part of your family just as beautifully and loyally. I have many known families who have pedigree cats at home. But I think these Indian breeds also deserve the same affection, care, and love and they reciprocate the emotions as well. Now when my kids are away for in pursuit of their respective careers, Sweety and a few stray dogs are my loving kids and make my life complete.