Meowgi Reign: A cat who chose his forever home
Shreya Paropkari, Cruelty Response Manager at Humane Society International/India, is also her cat’s personal masseuse
On a lazy afternoon in November 2015, my sister happened to pass a snoozing Tiger- a German shepherd! His bowl of Pedigree a precious few feet from his impressive (read: large) jowls, being feasted on by a scrawny, mangy looking orange tabby. Certain that it would take one snap of Tiger’s pretty snout to split the orange tabby in two, my sister grabbed the cat and scuttled towards safety as fast as she could. Surprisingly, the cat did not protest! In fact, he gratefully- as gratefully as a cat can- accepted a bowl of Whiskas, wiped it clean and went on his way. It took about two or three similar encounters for this orange tabby to start showing up like clockwork and demanding food.
It baffled my sister that a stray cat should be so friendly. The mystery was soon solved by a friend and fellow animal rescue person who came home to greet our new find, only to end up demanding for “his cat” back! As it turned out, poor Meowgi (as he is now called- a reference to Mr Miyagi from the Karate Kid), was found in a dumpster, with his hind legs tied together with binding wire and necrosis set in. It took him six months at Blue Cross of Hyderabad and a few weeks of personalised therapy in foster care to fully regain his mobility. However, it seemed that his foster parent’s insistence that he eat curd rice did not suit him too well and he embarked on an adventure to find a more accommodative home- which eventually led him to us.
Meowgi, a regular cat, is the perfect ‘stereotype’ to bust the ‘stereotyping’ of cats. His everyday routine includes 18 hours of sleep- both inside the house and outside; 4 hours of talking- mostly demanding his food and in summers complaining of the heat; and 2 hours spent eating- distributed over 24 hours that is. He loves to be fussed over, carried like a baby, and scratched in certain spots. He follows me around when I am at home, or generally drapes himself across the floor, as long as I am in his line of sight. He is cute, cuddly and loyal— traits thought to be exclusive only to man’s best friend, dog!
It is true that domestic cats have contributed to extinction of entire species (birds, small mammals), because it is in a cat’s nature to hunt. The luxury of a domestic cat’s life is also its bane. The boredom from lack of cognitive action- predatory behaviour (stalking, hunting) will cause our cats to hunt even when they are not hungry! So in the interest of a balanced urban wildlife, Mr Meowgi stays inside the house, content and injury-free (which most adult male felines are prone to), all day. I largely credit his willingness to stay at home to his neutering. Once his testes were surgically removed to ensure his life and lives countless kittens he could’ve helped produce are saved, he has no urge to prowl outside of his territory in search of a mate.
Meowgi, like most cats, is also lactose intolerant and hence does not deign to touch his pretty pink nose to milk or curd. He loves his RoyalCanin diet, and his zero-cost toys: a cardboard box to sit in, an old string to wrestle with and a small cushion to sharpen his claws. A cat’s purr is believed to be therapeutic, and it has been found that having a pet cat reduces the risk of having a stroke by a third! Mr Meowgi not only keeps me healthy and happy (if you discount the slavery), he also -by virtue of being neutered- saves countless unborn lives.
My ‘babies’ make the family complete
Alokparna SenGupta, who is deputy director of an NGO in Hyderabad, gets bossed around by her pets
Some six years ago, on a cold November evening in New Delhi, I was getting off the stairs at Dwarka Sector 12 metro-station after a long day’s work when I chanced upon a fast moving tail belonging to a tiny one-month-old white puppy with beautiful black & brown patches on her body. I walked over to the puppy and saw that she was injured. I took her to a vet. After a week of recovery, I planned to drop it back at the station, but there was no going back. The puppy barked at her former friends and followed me around. An escape from the deadly parvovirus and a failed adoption attempt later, I realized I had been foolish to even try to get her adopted – we were destined to be together. I named her Inky. She is an Indian dog with genes from a whippet for sure because I haven’t seen anyone loving to run as much as she does. When not running just for fun on the terrace or the garden or away from home, she is sleeping and how much! She knows she’s the pampered daughter of the family and takes advantage of it, sometimes undue.
I presently have a cat too and like me, Inky loves cats and is bossy towards her little feline brother. She is short tempered but she knows that she will get away with everything because she, like most dogs, knows how to manipulate their parents. She has the most amazingly expressive eyes which know how to melt even the angriest person. She has been with me through the toughest time of my life, making me fight through my bout of depression, guiding me through her love, tail wags and licks! She is my biggest strength and one of my biggest motivations to work for animals and save more of her friends.
I have another child too, not human or canine though – feline. In 2014, I adopted a three-week-old kitten rescued by my colleague from a group of children who were throwing stones at it. I named it Mowgly. Our happiness was short lived though, because due to a kidney ailment, he passed away after giving my husband, Inky and I 10 months of bliss. Soon after his death, Inky stopped barking. Every morning, she would wake up, search the entire house, not find Mowgly and retire to sleep for the entire day only to eat a little. Nothing bothered her anymore, neither the dogs on the street nor the ruckus created by children on the terrace. I knew we had to help another animal in need – for that animal’s sake and for Inky and my family’s sake. We adopted Awwwly, a boy from a litter of three kittens whose mother was rescued by a young student. He looked strikingly similar to Mowgly and though I had thought of adopting a different looking cat, once I laid my eyes on him, I knew he would be mine. The day I made Inky sniff Awwwly, Inky got back the shine in her eyes and our family was complete again. Awwwly is our spoilt baby now. Gifted with one of the manliest meows and a lion - like mane, he is fierce, funny and fabulous! Our lives have changed forever and we cannot imagine life without our little babies. Even a holiday seems incomplete without their presence and why would it not be? Be it a hard day at office or a tough day for me personally, being back at home to Inky and Awwwly changes our moods only for the better and our lives richer.
Bellona understands & fits in my lifestyle
Nirali Rohit Koradia, an animal rights activist, says her pet keeps her life sane & happy and means the world to her
I have always been an animal lover. I was just five when I started rescuing animals. My father is my biggest inspiration. I am an animal rights activist working for People For Animals, Mumbai. After a long stressful day full of raids, arguments, undercover and legal work of animal welfare, my two-year old female Rottweiler ‘Bellona’ is what keeps me normal and keeps me going. I adopted her from one of my family friends. She makes the world around me normal and peaceful by her sheer presence. My night time cycling sessions with her are a must. We go for over night camps, long drives, stay over at friend’s place together on weekends. I socialize her a lot and this is what has helped me with her behavior-aggression control. She has now got a perfect idea of my life style and fits in comfortably.
Her innocence, her drive to go that extra mile just to see me happy, her loyalty, her sense of understanding and unspoken emotions is commendable. I know I am to return home for no one else but her. She will be waiting for me! We have a hundred commitments but they (the pet dogs) only have one- that’s us. But it is definitely a give and take relationship. Yes, a pet and its owner’s pair is also heaven made but to keep this relationship going, we humans need to give a little to it as well.
As for Bellona, I follow exercise, discipline & affection formula with her. She is a massive baby, has unlimited power and energy. It is solely my responsibility to direct it in the correct direction and keep her balanced and happy. Daily I come across N-number of cases in which owners are abusive, they want to give up their dogs because of aggression and energetic behavior, which I feel can be avoided and managed if the dog owners, I would call them its ‘parents’, start acting responsibly. In the end, all that these four legged angels want from us is our love, attention and a little care. That is not such a lot? After all, when we adopt an animal, we have the responsibility of caring for it. If our children are a little tough to handle, we shall not disown them, surely? So, why should it be so easy to get rid of the pet if we find it hard to handle? I have managed to train Bellona without formal ‘training’ because I have allowed her to become a part of my life. She is a member of my family, my friend and means the universe to me!
My pet has leadership qualities
Neha Pandey, an undergraduate English student, loves her pet dog that was rescued & gifted to her family by the servant
Well, I can't say with precision what breed my pet is because it is a gift from the servant who works for us. Our pet was actually living with some people who used to beat him up and did not give him food either, so our servant felt he should rescue him and he asked us if we could keep it. We agreed and happily adopted him. It's a black and white coloured dog and his name is Tommy though my grandmother calls him Tony. He is a hybrid of street dog and Pygmalion. He is very cute and intelligent. He has become an inseparable member of our family in every sense. I can't spend a single day without having some quality time with him. Although I know he can't speak, I still talk to him. I was scared of dogs initially and couldn't bear to come near them, but Tommy made me feel comfortable and brought me closer to all the animals. His activities are really very cute as he stops responding to me if he is mad at me for scolding him. He would just hang his face and look very offended. I can make out at once if he is angry with me. Only when I start patting him lovingly that he relents. He wags his tail when he is happy. It's weird I know, but he loves spicy and sour food more. He is very intelligent as he goes for his walk all by himself and tells us by barking or cooing when he wants to go out and does the same when he wants to return. He is very attentive and barks and warns us whenever a stranger is there at the gate. Like all other dogs he too abhors sound of crackers. So I take extra care of him during the Diwali festival. He doesn't like loud music either and gets very annoyed by it. He is a lovely pet. He catches attention of everyone who comes to our house and they say that he has got a lot of attitude. He loves attention too but he has his own sets of choices. He does not get closer to everybody but a few whom he likes. So he is very choosy too. All the street dogs around just follow him and I have seen that by my own eyes so may be he has got leadership qualities too. I know I am talking about him as if he is a human being but, living with him, I have grown so fond of him that I notice the smallest thing about him. I bathe him and keep him essentially clean. He always gives us a hint whenever he is hungry. I have learnt a lot from him. He is a great stress reliever because whenever I am in stress I just talk to him or play with him and my stress is gone. His eagerness and activeness has given me so much motivation to stay active and fit. I have grown to love him and adore him a lot. Now I think of him as my best friend and my family member without whom my family is incomplete. I have experienced so many great and cute moments with him. I pray for his good health daily.
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All my pets live harmoniously with one another
Alankrita Sarkar is a law student who has rescued & abandoned dogs as pets along with pure breeds
My deep empathy and affection for the man’s best friend is a result of sensitive upbringing. I am lucky that my mother not just gave me life but also inculcated in me a sense of respect for everything living, whether it's a stray dog or wild bird. As a result, my home and doorstep is always crowded with doggies. We have four dogs in the house that you can call 'pets', though all the stray dogs in my colony can find food and shelter with us, so they too are pets in the unconventional sort of way, I have even got each one of them registered with the Nagar Nigam. I have an assorted type of gathering at home-- an indie dog who was rescued by me when some outrageous ' kids' were trying to 'bury' him as a pup. Though I did leave him with his mummy initially, his nightmarish experience turned him very ferocious and he would chase and try to bite people on the road. So, I brought him -- Mutku as we call him-- to my home and for the past four years, he has been the best pet, a good companion and decent pal with other three at home. Oh, as long as I dare not remove his collar! My other dog, a Pom, Tommy, is also a rescued one-- albeit from an uncaring owner. His master used to ill- treat him but the dog always followed in his wake, waiting for him to come back from work. Once I found the dog on the roadside with an infection. His master refused to spend any money on his treatment, so this dog too came to my home. He has been with us for three years. He found it really hard to adjust at first and I had to bribe him with sweets and sincere affection. Now, he is a willing member and loves to stay with us. The oldest pet I have is a German Spitz, Gucci, who is nine years old. He loves his freedom and does not like to be checked, otherwise he is a sweetheart. My youngest pet is Rambo, a St Bernard, who is just a year old. Though he is a big boy now, he loves to sit on my lap. All my pets co- habit very easily, none crossing the invisible line drawn through mutual understanding. I give them home cooked food, twice daily, and they are healthy and strong. I know whatever I want in life is achievable because I have their blessings!
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My perfect duo Milo & Oreo
Savio Martins has two ‘natural enemies’ living in absolute harmony
Most of us believe that cats and dogs are mortal enemies; I believed it too, till these two little Indies-- Milo (the Indian breed dog) and Oreo (the indie cat) -- came into my life.
I always thought if I ever had a dog, it would be a humongous breed like a Napoleon Mastiff or a Saint Bernard, but the joy and love that I have received from these strays is the best kind of love and positivity I have ever had in my life.
Oreo (the cat) was a little kitten when I adopted her, her mother was run over by a car, and she was frail and weak when she was found on the roadside. She desperately needed love and care. Milo, on the other hand, was separated from his mother and was wandering from door to door for food and shelter. A friend of mine got them to me and, at just one look at the two, I decided to share my home with them.
Milo and Oreo are both five months old and are the best companions one can ever have. In the beginning it was difficult as they were both tiny and always fought for attention. Milo was a hooligan and training him was a task, but I managed well in time and trained him not to gulp down his food or be greedy for more. He is now a good boy who goes for regular walks and eats his food like a well behaved dog. He loves to eat boiled rice with egg along with his regular dry Pedigree. He doesn’t fuss over food and loves to eat everything. Oreo, being a cat, is always clean and loves sitting out at the window. She is toilet trained and only uses the litter box for her business. She loves to eat Whiskers (cat food) and enjoys a change to biscuits from time to time.
Milo and Oreo sometimes share their food and sit by the window admiring the birds flying and taking in the fresh air early in the morning. They enjoy each other’s company and love their new home.
Adopting and rescuing animals is the best kind of good deed one can do. It makes you feel good and chosen. Milo and Oreo are the perfect examples of peace and love to us human beings. I always pray that there are more people in this world who would adopt strays and become proud parents to these bundles of joy like I did.
'Jimmy is my true companion' - September
We have heard of dogs as faithful animals, but this 'quality' became a reality for me when I was very lonely at one point of time in my life. It was when I lost my mother in 2009. I was too distraught and finding it hard to cope up with life. My sister Mary Forman from England advised me to adopt a pup to fill up the vacuum of loneliness created by my mother's demise. So God answered me when a kind person volunteered to give me a German shepherd and Labrador mixed breed pup. Now when I returned home each day from my working place-- St Francis College—and tried in vain to seek my mother, a soft cuddly thing would curl around my feet with a melodious whimper. Yes, I did forget everything else. This little 'bundle of joy' followed me everywhere like a shadow.
My bond with my dear puppy grew stronger with each passing day. I looked forward to coming home, meeting my pup, lifting him up, kissing him and giving him milk to drink. I named him Jimmy and got him registered at Dr Kumar's-- his vet. He ensured Jimmy got all his yearly injections and provided him full medical care. Jimmy became my passion, my baby, I could not live without him and he became my best friend too. He was and is so protective! No one dared to come near his mistress. Besides the family members, Jimmy does not entertain anyone. Now I care for Jimmy more than myself. Every morning I get up and give Jimmy a gentle pat, take him for a walk and then get his meal ready. Jimmy loves boiled chicken, homemade bread, milk and Pedigree. Then he sits and watches me getting ready for school with melancholy and lonesome eyes. I pet him, cuddle him and talk to him by saying 'Jimmy is a good boy. While momma (myself) is away at work, he'll guard momma's things and wait for her.' However, Jimmy likes to play a prank on me. He gets on my bed when I am away. When I come back from school and say in a stern voice, 'what did you do Jimmy', the poor dog finds it enough to crouch on the floor with innocent, pleading eyes saying: Forgive me. Then, I cannot help myself but to lift him up and cuddle him.
Jimmy knows my moods very well. He knows when I am sad, angry, joking or happy. Jimmy gets used to only those people whom I tell him to. After my college hours, I run around with him and then a bit of milk and a piece of chicken is served to him. Then Jimmy crawls onto his bed and watches me till I am ready for my nap. At around 5 pm, Jimmy goes for a walk and a ball is thrown which he brings back promptly. Jimmy loves this game and delights me at his alertness when I try to dodge him. Evening time he sits at the gate and chases away what he finds the 'undesirable elements'. When night draws, at about 8 pm Jimmy is served his meal, preferably boiled chicken.
The vet visits him on a Sunday at about 8 am whenever he is due his anti-rabies, de-worming, hair falling treatment, calcium etc. The vet's fees are very high but without Jimmy I am nothing so I do not mind spending on him. My sister Mary keeps inviting me to England but I can't leave Jimmy. Imagine, people leave their parents to go to England! Jimmy cannot live without me, I know he will fret for me and die. I cannot be disloyal to him. There are two things Jimmy hates - medicines and camera. It is hard to photograph him. I would say that God has created dogs for a purpose. A dog does not get spoilt unless you spoil him. He is very obedient. I love my Jimmy and would risk anything to keep him well and happy.