In the name of the cat

The reader stories that left us in splits, warmed our hearts and made us nostalgic!
What do football legends and cats have in common? My family’s devotion I suppose.

I remember my Nani’s cat, a regular alley kind, grey, lean with the most startling eyes who decided to adopt her! One day, it was just there. Occasionally, it would leave a mouse or two for the folks to find so Nani was very pleased.

I was fascinated by it too but the problem was it would come and go as it pleased and didn’t like being held. So, the next time the milk saucer was being topped, I was right beside Nani as she called out in her strong Pahari accent, “Aaa Maradona”.

“Nani! It’s Madonna, the pop star. There is no Maradona. You are pronouncing it all wrong.”

While she sagely nodded, I pitched in to help by screaming my lungs out for Madonna.

My Mama (maternal uncle) materialised with furrowed brows and a scowl from his room. He hissed, “It’s Maradona!”


“Maradona! The footballer!”

So began my education and I discovered that if Madonna was popular, Maradona was legendary. Our feline lived up to the reputation of its namesake by its sheer agility and ability to scrape out of any tight corner.

The story does not end there.

On my next visit the following year, I belted out “Maradona” in my highest pitch to draw out the cat. I was immediately corrected by my other Mama.

“Maradona ran away. It’s Platini now.”

“Who is Platini?”

“A football legend and our cat of course.”

For many years any cat that became a part of the household was always either a Maradona or a Platini. Pele, Ronaldo, Zidane scarcely left an impression, at least on the real decision maker that was Nani, for she steadfastly refused to name the cats after them.

Even today as the football frenzy of the World Cup begins, inspired teams and their players debated upon, for us it will always be Maradona and Platini, who rule the roost in our football-crazy family.

— Sheetal Negi, Dehradun

The legendary Argentinian Maradona, known as ‘the greatest footballer of all time”; (right) France’s Michel Platini, one of the most prolific goal scorers ever

Expert talk

Q.Is neutering of dogs and cats recommended for home pets?
Shalini Mehta, Mumbai
Neutering reduces aggressive behaviour in cats and dogs. it’s also important to control unwanted kittens or puppies or strays in our country. There are no significant health or behaviour adverse affects in neutered pets.
—Dr Umesh Kallahalli is a well-known vet

A new lease of life

The day Jenny, our five-year-old Labrador, got little Max into this world, we were overwhelmed with emotion. This tiny fluffy ball was adorable. Days passed by and we were wondering when he would get up on his little feet and start walking. I happened to Google ‘when do puppies start walking’ and I was shocked to learn that he should’ve been walking long back. Then came the panic trip to the vet, who after an X-ray, confirmed that Max had hip dysplasia — a condition where the ball and socket like joint is not formed properly thus making walking difficult— and he would never walk! The vet suggested we put him to sleep. We were not convinced. A friend suggested another vet and we took Max to him. This vet was a godsend. He said that with time Max would be able to walk but we would need to work on Max. He suggested we put him in a tub of water so he would start moving his legs. We put this to work along with many ideas that came out of our family brainstorming. We would gently hold him up and he would make some attempts to stand and walk. Then my husband had a novel idea where we lay a large Pet bottle horizontal and attached 4 loops to it through which we would put Max's legs . With his body weight thus supported on the bottle, it was easier for him to move and take steps. He made rapid progress and was soon not only walking but running too. Max is a handsome, agile 9-year-old who can walk, run and jump.
— Anupama Tilak, Pune