A cat called Cat

This was no ordinary cat.

Roshan Dsouza
8 min readJul 8, 2022
Photo by Rémi Rémino on Unsplash

I was not particularly fond of cats. No particular reason except that they’re probably not as friendly, understanding and loyal as dogs.

Our story starts in the early 80s when we were still in school. There was a cat in our apartment complex which had littered dozens of kittens over the years. She was like the grand Matriarch of Catdom. Every year there would be some non resident male cat who would come a-visiting. They were always dirty looking, would mew malevolently and generally were only on the lookout for a mate. Typical of the male species, you say? I could never understand why the heck would they choose to mate in the afternoons. Especially since they gave out blood curdling long mournful wails while doing their business.

Looking back I think they were just trying to taunt their married human bros saying hey man we get more action than you guys. We can do it in a public space and while at it also make a song and dance about it. And wait there’s more, we don’t have to worry about contraception, pregnancy or even bringing up the kitties. We have it all you morons!

Anyway, the latest brood of the resident mama cat had one fully white kitten and many more spotted ones. Being the deeply racist people we are, all the kids in the building would make a beeline for the white kitten. Let’s call her Cat for now. The poor thing was extra timid. She would be afraid of the loud children chasing her and would hide underneath the parked cars. My sisters were extra concerned about Cat and after they returned from school they would feed her with milk and fish bones. To cut a long story short they adored the animal. She was still too timid and would not come to them. She would always hide underneath the cars and wait for them to step back a little before she would come out to eat what they were offering.

But my sisters are not easily deterred by difficult situations. They would take up strategic positions all around the hapless feline and then make loud sounds to make her run in the direction of the staircase which led to our home. Eventually she got used to the routine and learnt to run up the stairs where their accomplice in chief, my mom, would stand with the door open allowing Cat to come in. Then they would shut the door. With Cat in, my sisters would fuss around her, She always looked alarmed.

I guess I would be confused too if I were kidnapped by big monster-like people, imprisoned in their home and then pampered with the choicest of food.

‘Fraidy Cat

Imagine the scene. Frightened kitten in the house. Cowering under the bed or dining table, being coaxed out with treats and coochie cooing sounds. Don’t ask me why they did it. Some girls love rough, alright? Before dad came home at night, the cat was let out again. Same process but in reverse. Coax the cat out from her hiding place, feed her, take up strategic positions around her, run after her making loud sounds and claps. This would be just too much for Cat and she would bolt out of the house, down the staircase and scurry underneath the nearest parked car. This happened every frigging day. Please spare a thought for me. I don’t like cats and here is one who doesn’t even want to be here and has to be chased up and down from our house every day. Spare a thought also for the other residents of our apartment block. Imagine you are walking up the stairs after a long tiring day at the office and are jolted out of your trance by a cat sprinting like Usain Bolt with his shorts on fire TOWARDS you.

Billu the kit

She was very timid like I said but if you got too close to her she would hiss and scratch. Yes she scratched my sisters many times but they didn’t seem to mind. They would show off their bruises like it were a badge of honor or something. I don’t know of anybody who had a cat as a pet who they couldn’t hold. We could not carry her or cuddle her or do stuff like other cat parents do. I am not exaggerating. In Hindi a cat is called billi. We all called the cat Billu which is like a term of endearment. So basically she was called Cat. How imaginative.

So we had a cat called Cat who we could not hold, pet or cuddle. She was, for all practical purposes, not a cat.

Billu grew up into adulthood making her daily trips up and down the staircase to the house of the 3 crazy girls and one badly outnumbered boy. Every now and then she would permit my sisters to stroke her gently or caress her under her chin. My mom was her biggest fan and would talk to her as she cooked. Billu would sit in the kitchen and listen to mom talk away. Over time she was spoiled silly and stopped eating fish bones because mom had started feeding her only boiled fish meat. Without bones. So you see where this was headed? Our fish curry had fish with bones in it which we had to carefully extract before eating but the cat would get boneless meat and milk in her saucer. Thrice a day. The cat had become so un-catlike that people have told me they had seen mice jaywalk in front of Billu and she looked right through them. I was truly ashamed to call her our pet. I used to refer to her as an ex-cat. My dad would laugh uproariously whenever anyone mentioned our cat’s behaviour. He pretended to not like Billu and shoo her away but he was very fond of her. I think he understood how deeply his wife loved this useless animal.

Sometimes she refused to leave the house at night and we had to carry her by the scruff of her neck and put her out. In this position she couldn’t scratch but one had to be strong to withstand her wriggling. If she managed to free herself from your grasp she’d leave you a souvenir on one of your body parts.

I can’t imagine what the neighbors thought of us, carrying a grown up pet cat by the scruff of her neck. I mean, who does that???

Then I left for further studies to Pune and for 4 years I was spared the misery of watching 4 ladies pamper the fudge out of a totally ungrateful cat called Cat. I used to call home every week and I would also be updated on what Billu was upto. Mostly she was upto no good. Would eat and sleep the whole day. Mostly on the bed with my sisters because I was not there to chase it away.

A Bone to Pick

One day, when I was in Pune, someone, I think it was dad, fed Billu some fish bones to eat. Anyway, the ex-cat had forgotten how normal cats ate fish bones and one bone got stuck in her throat. She ran around disturbed trying to cough/ spit out the bone to no avail. She was in discomfort and couldn’t eat. My mom was even more distressed and she wouldn’t eat either. Dad came home from work to this crazy drama at play. Billu was back to being her scratchy, hissy best. How to help her? How were they to take her to the vet when they couldn’t even carry her? They then came up with a brilliant idea. My elder sister spoke to her in a soft voice and gently calmed down the cat. My younger sister kept a burlap sack ready. As soon as Billu calmed down, they swiftly carried her by the scruff of her neck and put her in the sack and tied its open mouth close. They had made small holes in the bag so she could breathe and carried her off to the vet.

Photo by Mockup Graphics on Unsplash

Apparently, she made a huge racket in the car. Understandably so. One day you are pampered like Cleopatra’s cat and the next day you are entombed like Cleopatra is being mummified. No self respecting ex-cat would tolerate such treatment. So they reached the vet. There were people there with unwell pets. A couple of dogs, one or two cats, a caged parrot and other small domesticated animals sitting obediently in the large waiting room. The serenity of the evening was shattered when a man came in dragging a sack held at arms length with a wild animal hissing and thrashing about inside. My sister tells me they were extremely self conscious and embarrassed to be with the animated sack.

Due to the emergency of the situation, the other unwell pets were getting jumpy, they were allowed to see the vet on priority. He was amused to see the cat in a sack. Even more when they explained that this was an ex-cat. He had a helper who seemed strong and experienced enough. Don’t worry, said the vet and he asked the attendant to untie the sack and bring out the beast from within. He did so and tried to hold Billu. But Billu didn’t want to be held. So she let him have it. A huge scratch with one swipe of her boneless meat nourished paw. That strong man yelped like a baby screaming in Hindi, “ Yeh Junglee billi kahan se laaye aaplog?” Translated it means where’d you get this wild cat from? Billu scratched and hissed the loudest she had ever hissed, gave out some blood curdling mews which were not mournful like the mating ones and leapt out of the examination table. She toppled some of the vet’s instruments and went atop the tall cupboard in the corner of the room. Then there was silence, at least from Billu. The attendant was gingerly applying ointment on his scratch and cursing the cat under his breath, my sisters were embarrassed about their pet’s un pet like behaviour and the vet was too dumbfounded to react.

Photo by Matthias Reumann on Unsplash

And the cat was in the bag

After a few moments, one of my sisters stood up on a chair and gently coaxed the scared animal down. All that hissing and shrieking had dislodged the bone in Billu’s throat and she was fine now. The attendant’s blood was not shed in vain after all but he was still upset. Anyway, burlap sack and scruff of the neck techniques were used again to repack Billu into the sack. The vet did not charge for the visit, he was just relieved to see the cat tied securely in the sack and my father hauling it away. The attendant continued to sulk and did not so much as say goodbye to Billu. The other pets and their parents in the waiting room all made way for the sack wielding entourage to exit safely.

These are just a few of Billu’s shenanigans. Luckily for her, there was no Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Humans, else I’d have reported her. Of course, if my mom had written this story it would read differently. Billu lived with us for 19 years which is like 92 years in human years. And did nothing to make me change my opinion about cats. If anything, I dislike them even more now.



Roshan Dsouza

Father, Husband, Story teller at heart. I write about my people experiences. Mostly Funny, Sometimes serious but Always positive.