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There’s a cat family living next door. Do you notice how all four of them are looking in the same direction in the different photographs? Yup, their eyes are on me standing in my first floor balcony with the camera lens trained on them. Then of course there is the matter of the dog standing next to me and snorting disapproval.

She, the dog that is, is well known among the cats in the neighborhood so much so that they totally shun our house these days and when they do walk past the gate, which they have to especially when the fish-seller arrives, I can almost see them shrink within themselves. They do not to look at the gate while walking past without upsetting the dog and making her start off with her volley of very LOUD barks.

A couple of them do pause midway to assess the danger and then quickly walk away mustering as much dignity as they can. Cats! None look as dignified as them, even when scared and slinking past the gate, except of course their cousins in the jungle. But put them on a roof and they look down on the dog with a I-couldn’t-care-less-how-loudly-you-bark leaving the dog baffled and extremely frustrated.

I love to watch the kittens at play, also how they interact with the mom cat. Whenever they see mom in between playtime, they run to her and update her with their latest exploits. ‘I saw a butterfly, mommy!’ ‘I hid behind a huge leaf mommy and brother couldn’t find me. Tee hee!’ ‘Mom, I caught an insect. It was yucky!’ ‘And I saw a butterfly, it was pretty.‘ It goes on and on. Mother gives encouraging little meows to indicate she is listening.

Then there are times when the kittens want to know what mom has been up to. They run to her all curious. ‘Mommy, I missed you.’ ‘I missed you more.’ ‘No, it was me who missed you more.’ ‘Were did you go, mommy?’ ‘Have you got us something to eat?’ ‘Why are you sitting on top of the wall, Mommy? I can’t reach you.’ ‘But I can. See, I almost touched her tail.’ ‘I want to touch Mommy’s tail too. Meow, meow….’ It goes on. And mom shushes them gently. Enough now. Stop bothering me.

Now, Pops is a different matter altogether. Not for him all these kitty-catty exchanges. He is only a visitor, a visitor with a purpose. He has come to check on the mother cat. He merely tolerates the little ones for now. There is an all-important question to which he wants an answer: ‘Are you ready for the next batch of kittens?’ Yeah, right. His is a one track mind. Right now she is not saying an outright ‘no’ nor an ‘yes’ and he is content to rest the matter there unlike his human counterparts who still go on pretending not to understand the true nature of consent. Shame!

Pops will try and woo her. And if she snarls at him any time during the wooing, he just lets her be and goes and sits away from her. If she says she prefers the brown and white cat and not him, he may fight the brown and white cat, but will not force her into submission over it. Just a flick of her tail is all he needs to understand where he stands with her. He cannot use her rolling on the ground and lying belly-up as an excuse to pounce on her. She has to purr a definitive ‘yes’.  To think the time and effort put into trying to make his human counterparts understand why a ‘no’ or ‘maybe’ is not ‘yes’! Tsk tsk tsk. When will humans learn?

©Shail Mohan 2018