Column: Benedict who is basically Charu Lochan!

Those of you have been regular readers or have at least read the last few posts would know that a few weeks back my wife and I had an animal encounter. A stray cat that opted for a career switch and took up the offer of becoming our pet for a day. And as much as it was a disappointment that the cat went away the next day, it was a relief too that I would not have to be responsible for any mess it created in the neighborhood. However, that was not to be, as our masquerading Puss-In-Boots had returned after exploring other options in the neighborhood for a couple of days.

It was quite a surprise when I opened the door in the morning two days later to find the cat waiting outside. I could see it was hungry and hesitant to ask for food, probably because it was feeling embarrassed for having rudely rejected our offer the day before. For me, it was a time to display my graciousness by offering food and shelter to this cat who apparently needed food more than shelter as we realized later. Rashmi was filled with joy and excitement; she was already planning to set up a litter-box in the balcony, despite the “No-Pets” policy at our apartment complex. However, as we have spent time with this grey-blue feline, we have understood the independent nature of their species a little better. And also we have seen how they like to keep their ablutions a private affair, especially if they haven’t been trained by humans. Don’t tell on us, but we haven’t been cleaning up after our cat. If we can call it our cat.

Yes! This right here is Benedict, who is basically Charu Lochan, our adopted but not legally so cat. As you can see, he likes to sleep with his eyes open and fist drawn, giving out a Bond like aura. As if you could hear him muttering in his sleep,“…the name is Bond, James Bond!”

It is hard to imagine that a cat could have the intelligence of a 2 year old. You sometimes get to see that happening in some remote corner of this world on a YouTube video with 434,345 views and 12,234 comments. And you are not sure if the video is doctored or real. But to have such an experience first hand is quite a unique experience. I don’t think I could be as excited about my own kid learning to walk and talk, that is when I have one, as I am to see a non-human display such vital signs of intelligence that we humans have so arrogantly assumed to be our species’ patent. What I am referring to his this cat’s ability to acknowledge basic commands like, “Stop clawing the carpet, now!” Of course that is not how I say it, in fact it just comes out like a big “Noooooooooooooo!”, which automatically conveys the message. And you can see the cat retreat from whatever it is doing at that time. I know, it is not as marvelous as it sounds, but still to have someone listen to your command and obey, especially when it doesn’t even have to comply to the intra-species obligation of understanding the commands. That is intelligence!!!

I have picked up a few things in last three weeks like how to tease the cat into having a fit of excitement in which all it wants to do is claw and bite. Of course playfully! And before PETA comes after me, let me make it clear, I am not causing any psychological or physical harm to the cat. By the way, I had a narrow escape the other day; I almost had my hand bitten, of course because of my own fault. The cat was excited and clawing the claw-mat I was teasing it with. And I tried to pet it, in an attempt to calm it down when it expressed its displeasure. Thanks to Caesar Milan, from whose videos I have learned how excitement can be eased into “calm-submission”.

However, Benedict aka Charu Lochan is a gentleman and very chauvinistic in its approach. He is a cool cat and the only thing that makes his hair stand up straight is traveling in the car. We have tried twice to take it for a ride, without success. We have already given up on that for now, until we can build more trust with him and it has realized that a red Eagle Vision is not a monster waiting to gobble it up.

As I am writing this post, he is curled up next to me on a small red foot mat at the entrance of our kitchen. That is its favorite spot, because that is where he can see my wife and I for most part of the day. And I am begining to feel that this post is turning into a boring ramble so I am going to call it quits for now. I have lost track of what I originally had in mind as I have written this post over a span of 10 hours, with three breaks in between.

So, until next time, adios! And stay tuned to learn more about the adventures of Benedict.

Column: Marley and Me – Pet Catharsis

It wasn’t a very bright day yesterday. Especially because my wife and I were not looking eye-to-eye for some difference of opinion on a matter of principle. No! This is not a post about what we were fighting about or how we resolved it. So take it easy.

As the day ended, I decided to burn all the negative energy in the gym and spent an hour on cardio. It felt very refreshing and I could once again admire the beauty of life. Apparently, my wife chose to take the cue from my workout session and went for a long walk herself, only to return with what I can call the best animal experience I have had until today. She had found a stray cat and decided to lead it to our home, as it appeared to be famished. It turned out that she was correct in her evaluation, the cat was able to gobble up 100 ml of milk and a large potato fry followed by some 20 gm of minced lamb and felt all happy and gay afterward.

Now, I don’t call it the best experience just because I had found a fellow gobbler in another specie (for those who don’t know, I can eat a substantial amount of food in one sitting), it was because the cat appeared to be not that much of a stray. The nicely groomed fur, friendly nature and good manners were quite an evidence that the cat had probably lost its way on one of its adventurous prowls. It responded quite well to commands meant to keep it in discipline, at the same time it was happy to be around us and be naughty.

The best part was my wife and I were instantly able to forget the difference of opinion we were observing for last 24 hours and had our attention completely focused on this cute little meddler.

For the first time I realized what a therapeutic effect a pet can bring about. I have never been in favor of having pets, primarily because for most part of my life I have been scared of dogs and secondarily, I don’t like to be committed to taking care of something that can’t survive on its own. However, yesterday I realized the message conveyed in the movie Marley & Me that a life can be enriched by having a pet around. I believe one can achieve catharsis by owning a pet that doesn’t mind to play by the rules set by you. Also, it gets your mind off the stress you observe in your personal and/or professional life and subsequently enables you to focus on brighter things in life.

The cat, however, decided not to stay with us, as it was too impatient to sit back and sleep easy for the night. And since our apartment complex has a “No Pets” policy, we decided to leave the cat outside our apartment so that it was free to chose its way. The good thing is that the cat had finished all the food and water we had left outside for it; the bad thing is it was no longer there when my wife went to check on it this morning.

In a strange way that it happened, I believe the cat was a cosmic intervention in our lives, especially mine (my wife loves pets and has had them since childhood) to let us know what we need to fill our lives with constant love and companionship; a friendly pet.

Even when the two intelligent human beings with the most advanced communication skills and capable brains can’t make the sense out of each other, an intellectually less capable pet can go a long way to bring some sense, in its mute and playful ways.