We all grow up possibly being a little wary of Cats, if not afraid. Their weather like unpredictability, their lithe and nimble bodies, always ready to pounce, those sharp claws hidden beneath innocent fur, all of which makes us a little cautious about befriending the Feline species. It is only when one has been properly introduced to a Cat, not unlike a Butler announcing the arrival of a Lord, making those assembled, aware of the said Lord's many qualifications & qualities, can one lose their guard. It could be a parent, a brave friend or a significant other who seems to be afflicted by an affinity for cats from an earlier phase in life, who brings about an introduction to this most enigmatic species.
I grew up as a single child, hoping that my parents would give in to my desperate mirror-of-Erised desire of owning a dog. A desire made quite apparent in the form of many a threats such as my refusal to sit for exams or running away from home under cover of darkness. I am happy to say they never did. After existing solitarily without an animal companion for 23 long years, I was given the opportunity to spend time in close proximity with not one, but three cats.
Having secured an internship in Zurich, Switzerland, I was invited to stay with this most wonderful Swiss Family in a suburb near Zurich, in a restored 400 year old farmhouse replete with a vegetable patch, a potting shed and a cellar. The family owned three cats, one of whom would become the cat that made me fall in love with all cats, my lifelong muse and cherished feline friend - Schoggi.
Schoggi, a sleek Bombay Cat with a coat darker than the darkest chocolate one could find in Switzerland, was a mischievous little cove. Already 5 years old, he first sniffed at me with curious suspicion without quite making up his mind about this most alien human. He was swift-footed and snapped easily when piqued. After fraternising & acknowledging each other from a distance for a couple of days, I understood the courtship rituals I must follow if I were to befriend Schoggi.
I learnt to tap my lap twice, after which Schoggi would glare at me, as if to ascertain the sincerity of my intensions, following which he would jump onto my lap. He preferred slow, gentle caresses on his head and especially near the end of his back where the tail began. He purred with heavy contentment like an engine out of the industrial revolution, audible across rooms, leaking whimsical watery snot from his nose from the lack of control that only comes from profound ecstasy. He could sit on my lap for hours in heavenly contentment. Having had his fill, he would lightly bite the hand that stroketh, in the way of gratitude and retire to a safe corner to bring the drowsiness that I had helped induce, to fruitful conclusion.
Schoggi strutted about the house and it's environs, confident in its ownership, proud of being it's Lord. I would hear his heavy paws, thudding across the wooden roof, possibly chasing an unfortunate mouse or an invisible spirit. I would wait for him to return from his unknown adventures outside the house, especially in the evenings, when his dinner would be laid out along with ours. I would offer him bits of Alpine cheese and his face would betray a momentary look of gratefulness, only to be replaced by an inquiring look of "Is there more?"
There were the other two cats as well, Schoggi's mother Mimi and his grandfather, Pfazu - a feline fur generator & shedder. Mimi had a look about her that suggested she could plot psychologically manipulative schemes to overthrow a Tsarist Regime while Pfazu simply snored away for most part of the day, quietly shedding his fur, content in the thought of having lived a great 12 years in fur filled activity. He had had enough of running about and preferred to spend his last few years snoozing away on the sofa.
I fell in love with Schoggi, and I'd like to think, he loved me too. I dream of that moment, sometime in the near future, where I return to meet this delightful family and Schoggi, who after a momentary shock, comes bounding into my arms, purring like a great old Victorian Machine. I reminisce his whimsical yet suave demeanour, his mischievous and eccentric escapades and overall, his soft-hearted affection.
Schoggi showed me that Cats are creatures of divine complexity. They love if you let them, in their own way and only if you respect their individuality. Several years and many cats later, I decided to start a brand that celebrates this deep love for Cats. On that note, I must sign off to attend to Zuzu, my cat who has been eyeing me with a look that conveys his desire to chase a ball or some such object.
“The smallest feline is a masterpiece.” – Leonardo da Vinci