An article I came across recently reminded me of my own complex relationship with visiting cat/s. Back then the question that I had trouble getting an answer to was, can your cat love you back?
Was I wrong to fall for a cheating cat?
– By Anisa Subedar
Five years ago
Like each year, it was on us humans to pay maintenance each month at our residential society. A glaring of cats on the contrary had laid claim on a parcel of land within the premise and never bothered to pay any maintenance in what they considered their private fiefdom.
It did not matter to our family as the cats were not much of a nuisance(yet) and excused our trespasses. Our paths really never crossed much.
Till the day a young orange tomcat showed up at our doorstep! Although not uncommon in our society, it was definitely a first on the top floor. Finding ourselves in unfamiliar cat company we did what we thought was right, assumed he was hungry so poured him a bowl of milk.
He sniffed, had a sip and went away unperturbed by our musings, not to be seen for the next few days. We were intrigued by our first encounter and kind of hoped for the return of this fluffy, non-feral looking cat.
When he did return, much to the annoyance of our mother, my brother and I fed him leftover chunks of chicken and milk. A relationship was developing, one sided of course but difficult to pull out of (all too familiar to humans).
Slowly the sly chap had smooth talked us with suave meows and made his way into our home and our heart. Earned himself a name from my brother (“Billu”) and did enough to get an upgrade from eating leftovers to imported cat food that my brother now ordered from Amazon.
It wasn’t long before our mother fell for Billu’s charms too. Softened to his presence, we often found her feeding him without us asking her to. There was an unsaid understanding, he would spend the night out on the loose and would return each morning or noon for a cuddle / a meal / a relaxed siesta often on our bed.
We loved Billu, but the question lingered, can your cat love you back?
Billu had soon started bringing killed pigeons to our door and left the bloodied bird often uneaten . Unaware about cat psychology at the time, we assumed Billu did this to satisfy his bloodlust and since he owned our home he just brought food home.
It was only when we got fed up of mopping the area in front of our door did we decide to Google this topic.
The result amazed us. Billu did what he did, because he thought we were incapable of catching a bird (at times a rodent) to feed ourselves. He thought we would die if he did not get us food.
That’s the day we realized Billu had adopted us!
Brings me back to the article by Anisa Subedar, which starts with the quote
Can your cat love you back? Is this their way of expressing? Irrespective, from that day we had a new (visiting) member in our family.
Soon Billu fathered 2 cute little kittens who had instantly made our heart their home. One was an orange male, chubby, docile and unafraid of humans (our favorite, yes parents do have favorites). The other, a tortie female, slim and wary of humans. As time passed our families grew closer.
One day while at work, my brother called. Billu, had been missing for a week. I hesitantly picked up, my brother had news
Took less than 2 minutes to deliver the message but it took us months to get over the loss.
The young ones continued to visit, but members in our society wanted to put an end to the menace of cat faeces on other floors. At first we ignored, then defended against, then sympathized and then eventually submitted to the suggestion of employing the services of a local cat catcher. We did not participate but did not protest either. When it happened we were heart broken though.
Uneasy days had passed and we missed Billu and his litter.
Then one hot summer evening while at work I received a call from my brother. A month had gone by since the cat family had vanished. This time the news was good. Guess who survived? The independent young tortie! Guess it pays to be wary of humans.
It was a delight! Apart from the one odd complaint, no one bothered about a single cat. My brother took good care of her, I however chose not to get as involved this time. The loss of Billu and the chubby one was still painful, no one would want the same thing to happen to them again, would they?
Our survivor has grown up to be a fine feline. My brother continues to feed her imported cat food from Amazon just like he fed Billu! And on her part, ever so often, she brings the barely eaten pigeon to our doorstep, and waits on us just like her father. I no longer seek an answer to the question “Can your cat love you back?” It is not required to be happy in this relationship.