Furry Love

Written By

Shaapla Sen

Lifestyle - Being me - Furry love-01 Loading

I left behind very important things when I moved to Bangalore – my mom, my brother, my grandmother and my dog. I didn’t know what I would do without something furry in my house but college life was calling and I packed my bags and left. Not only was I going to miss my own dog, I would miss all the dogs from all over Calcutta; The ones in front of tea shops, sitting in groups on roads and sleeping on cars. Wherever I would go, I would find a dog to cuddle. I was never allowed to keep animals at home when I was young, and I made up for it by spending my time in other people’s houses where they had pets.

One woman especially, who had four dogs, birds, rabbits, a mongoose and a little white mouse. I would spend long hours there and my mother would have to search for me and drag me back home. It fascinated me that I could obtain the love, trust and affection from a species that didn’t understand me. Gaining those from humans is so hard. And there were so many types of affection to be gained! A dog will lick you, wag its tail and give you its tummy. A rabbit will nuzzle and try to clean you as if you are its baby. Cats will purr and knead you with their paws and their sharp little claws will prick you while their sandpaper tongue gives you a cleaning.

I brought back numerous stray puppies and kittens home and begged my mother to let me keep them. However, I was made to let go of all of them because my mother didn’t want me to experience the pain of losing a pet. Between these fruitless events, I rescued other animals from here and there – a baby bat that hit the fan in my room, a tiny mouse who had been poisoned, some sparrows, a large fish my mother brought from the market which was still alive. The first pet I was allowed to keep, albeit reluctantly, was a guinea pig. He was really small and his fur was white brown and black. I didn’t really name him and he ended up responding to ‘Ginny’ which is what my maid used to call him when she used to feed him potatoes.

The puppy happened suddenly; my mom, as usual late for office, had no time to argue or explain to me (yet again) why I couldn’t keep her. To my surprise, she left after telling me “Do whatever you want!”; Ma returned from office that day to find the small, white ball of cuteness sleeping on the couch and finally, I had a puppy.

Staying in Bangalore without any animal affection was really hard and that was the first time I brought cats home. As a species I had not had as many experiences with them as I had with dogs, and in the time I was adjusting to kitten ways, I was worried that they didn’t like me. Was I too ‘dog’ and did my cats know? It was only a matter of time before I learned that expecting dog behaviours from a cat is wrong. They have their own ways and methods just like any animal does and you undergo a different process of connection with each type. I did a lot of reading to identify the ways cats express affection just to make sure I was picking up on the right cues. When I realized that I had gained what I was looking for, it felt like an accomplishment that I had bonded with this species. Since I was living away from my family, my kitten became my family and I found myself totally mothering her, feeling motherly pangs for the first time.

People hardly got it. I got quite a few remarks from dog-people on how I had turned rogue and suddenly decided to like cats. There was no sense in choosing, I thought. Love is love and if you have a lot to give why do you need to discriminate who you give it to? I baby my cats like all mothers do with their children. My baby voice comes out and I ignore their mews when I want to give them kisses. I tell them and myself “You’re mine and I brought you here so you must suffer through the cuddling!”

Maybe it’s an age thing; I am approaching mommy-age. I find myself telling my cats – ‘Mommy’s going out’ and responding to their mewing with ‘Yes, what do you want?’ and ‘Please stop complaining I won’t let you go out now’ and the pretty frequent ‘If you don’t finish that I am not giving you anything else to eat!’; they reward me by ripping toilet paper rolls to shreds, scratching everything other than the scratching pad, running away if I chase them and coming and lying down on any books I have open. And every day in the morning when I wake up they will come to me mewing as if asking me why I was away so long and they rub themselves against me and purr and blink their big round eyes at me. Nothing is ever held on to, I am in love, I am loved and lucky.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shaapla Sen, 27, lives and works in Bangalore. She is physically occupied a few hours each day with HR and sales. But mentally occupied every moment with photography, painting, trees, cooking, music, family, affection and her furbabies.

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