Monday, July 25, 2016
I’ll begin her story with her grandmother, an orange cat I named Fluffy. Living in Delhi on the second floor, I had a small terrace with some potted plants. Every day I fed any stray cats who came there. The cats in the area soon knew where to come for a safe place to hide, or for something to eat.
Mother cats generally abandon their kittens when they are around three months old. But obviously, they are still concerned about them, because the mothers would bring the kittens to my terrace and tell them they would always get food there, before they left them to their own devices.
Fluffy and Furry were both regular visitors, two look-alike females expecting kittens at the same time. I could distinguish between them as Furry was one shade paler. They had their kittens elsewhere, then returned after a few days, looking thin, and gobbling their food. But just a few days later, Furry stopped coming, and I did not see her again. In fact, in all those years I fed cats, very few came for more than a year. Did they move away somewhere, or did something happen to them? I do not know.
After about six weeks, Fluffy, who had been coming for food every day, brought her kittens too. There were three orange ones like her, and one grey tabby with a brown leg. She left them on the terrace and went away. That was surprising as it wasn’t the right time for her to abandon them. They still needed their mother. For the next four days the kittens did not leave my terrace. Had their mother told them to stay put? I fed them diluted milk, and they leapt and played and had a great time, though they were wrecking my plants.
The first day they were there, I was slightly nervous about Mister, one of the other visiting cats. Mister, a grey boy, was absolutely the largest cat I have ever seen. Tall and well-built, he did not need to be fed, but once he got to know that I was a cat-feeder, he came every day. He wouldn’t leave until he had got his bowl of milk and bread.
Mister wasn’t friendly. If I went anywhere near him, he would hiss ferociously. I had to leave his bowl a couple of feet away from him, and then back away. He would eat and drink, wash his face with his paw, and in his usual stately fashion, would then depart. What would Mister do to these motherless kittens? Well Mister did nothing. They were wary of him and didn’t go anywhere near his food, but once he had eaten, he almost seemed to like them. He stayed longer than usual on the terrace. One of the kittens even had the courage to creep up behind him and flick his tail. Mister, in his dignified way, ignored it, and left after a while.