I Love My Kittens

I Love My Kittens

I was afraid of animals for the longest time. One can say I was quite indifferent too. I was chased by a dog and scratched by a cat as a child; those memories served to make me nervous around pets. Overnight I went from asking my parents for a dog to avoiding friends who had one in their houses. If it was not something as benign as goldfish, I disliked it. Even birds flying would set off my pulses on rare occasions.

Hence if I was told that all of that would change within a span of just one year and that I would become a cat-lover, I would not believe it.

Patch; Pic courtesy: Udita Chakrabarti 

I met Patch and Bandit through my partner, Peter – whom, in turn, I met at the university while pursuing my post-graduate degree. They are siblings and live with Peter’s mum and stepdad in Hampshire, UK. Patch is a tortoiseshell (a colour mutation amongst cats) tabby aptly named for her face. We often joke that it resembles the check pattern of a Battenberg cake. Bandit is her brother, coloured white and beige. He is stealthier and cleverer of the two. They are both indoor cats occasionally going out to the backyard.

I met them for the first time when my partner’s parents were away for a day and we had to look after them. While both take time to get used to strangers, Bandit fears someone new coming in so much that he hides beside the sofa or the bed until he is more comfortable; a process which can take a long while.

Bandit; Pic courtesy: Udita Chakrabarti 

Patch, on the other hand, jumped onto our bed the very next morning as we woke up. I was a little less nervous around animals by then, thanks to my friend Alison and her dog Jacob. Jacob did not like staying at home without Alison who had to bring him to our classes. Everyone loved Jacob including the teachers. I, however, was given to adrenaline spikes and flinching if Jacob was around me. So one day after class, Alison patiently introduced me to him so I could overcome my fear. She showed me how not to make sudden hand movements around a dog’s face which might scare him and set him off. It was the first time in two decades that I had a dog sniff my fingers and was able to stroke him. Getting used to Jacob and slowly loving his presence was a wonderful feeling. Hence I did not flinch around Patch as instinctively as I would otherwise, and let her sniff me.

Patch loves getting strokes and cuddles in the mornings and nights. In months to come it would become a ritual that I could not deny. Peter jokes that I am weak around them and they can sense it. She is also faster in responding to the sound of food being served!

Patch; Pic courtesy: Udita Chakrabarti 

I took a longer time to get closer to Bandit who would scratch or make a slight biting gesture if he wanted to be left alone instead of simply moving away. I have come to accept this side of his personality and things got better, once I could understand his facial expressions more. Living with people more than just his parents certainly helped as I have noticed Bandit takes lesser time to get used to people now. He even sits on people’s laps sometimes these days.

Being around the two has made me so much more empathetic and appreciative of animals. Every time I travel to the UK, I look forward to meeting them. Although I am still scared of barking dogs I do not run at the first sight of them instead letting them smell me. I feed pigeons, ducks, geese and swans when I can without getting startled by their movements. It’s my favourite past time. Heck, I even appreciate people’s pet snakes now. I do believe that learning to love animals has made me a better person than I was before. Nothing could compare to the feeling of being trusted and loved by one in return.

Featuring Bandit; Pic courtesy: Udita Chakrabarti 

Activist with active interest in humanitarian causes. She loves photography, revising her Spanish lessons, studying cultures and history, and travelling (or reading about it when she can’t).

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