Saturday, October 02, 2004

To Tortella, Miss Grey, Velvet and the others

By Aishwariya Laxmi

She looks at me
With curiosity
Her eyes search mine in wonder
And perplexity
She waves her little paw
And writes her own law
Those that are weak
Need not be meek!
She is my little kitten
Softer than a mitten

…That goes out to Tortie, short for Tortella, the first kitten I adopted. I was about eight or nine returning home with a friend after a boisterous game of running and catching, when my friend drew my attention to this little kitten that was playing in the middle of the road with a puppy. Needless to point out, the sight was truly adorable and I often regret that I haven’t captured it on film. She suggested that I take the kitten home and keep her, when she saw that I was entranced by the little furball. I found the idea very appealing, and quickly took Tortie home.

She had a white base with orange, black and deep brown fur. Till date she is the most intelligent cat I have come across. She was so adorable that my mother couldn’t say no and she quickly joined part of our household. We had her for many years, and over the years, she gave birth to many kittens who then had kittens, until our house became a kind of a menagerie. Since it was an independent house, it did not trouble anyone, and the cats walked in and out of the house freely.

There was Velvet, who was a black and white fluffy tomcat who developed a taste for coffee, then there was Miss Gray who was a very plain little cat compared to her bushy siblings, but we loved her all the same. Ginger, got bitten by a dog and came home with a gaping hole in her chest, which frightened me. We took her to the vet, and I still can’t believe that nebasulf powder alone managed to heal her and make her all right. There was an Abyssinian Tabby who was very beautiful and adept at hunting down her own food. The only problem was, she would drag her prey into the house and we, being vegetarians found it difficult to tolerate beasts of all shapes in our living room. Our reaction would always be dismay at what the cat dragged in!”

There were many other cats too. They would sniff at the flowers and blades of grass in the garden, and were polite enough to do their toilet in the mud outside the house, once they were potty trained. They were playful and I could spend hours leading them on with bits of string. They would chase it with fascination writ large upon their little faces. With eager thrusts of their paws, they would aim to catch the string, but never succeed. They would finally tire of it and amuse themselves with some other object like the tennis ball, which they would then hasten to roll under the chair. Sometimes, in their efforts to catch the ball that they had just pushed under the furniture, they would butt their heads against the wood, and carry on as if nothing happened.

Every time the refrigerator door was opened, all the cats would come rushing from wherever they were and there would be a mass of tails and fur. My grandmother who is not kindly disposed to having any kind of animals in the house, was quite shocked to say the least when she opened the fridge and this convergence of tails and fur took place. After that her visits to our household diminished in frequency, and I always had to make sure that the cats did not jump on her when she did come. She would use her forefinger to give little admonishing taps on their tails, which had no effect whatsoever on the felines, and only made me laugh, which annoyed her considerably.
I never felt lonely as a child. Although I had no siblings, I had so many pets and loved all of them so very much, that they were very much a part of our family.

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