My family and I have always been animal lovers. We have enjoyed keeping dogs and cats all our lives.We even kept chickens, rabbits, birds and squirrels. Our pets have always had their unique personalities and mood swings just like all of us. It’s amazing how each animal has its own unique personality trait. Many of our friends never understand how we communicate with our animals and know how they’re feeling. We don’t always know what is on their mind but we can mostly tell what they want. They always make it very clear to us. One of my best friends Silky Kohli once asked me ‘how can you talk to a cat or a baby? You know they can’t understand you right? I replied, ‘You know they may not know our language, but they understand what we tell them very well. They understand our tone, expressions and gestures.’ She was intrigued by my answer. I have grown up in a family who communicates with humans and animals. We often talk to wild animals we see outdoors. We never questioned ourselves on why we talk to them. It has just always been something that’s done. Our pets always seem to like it that way. I remember one of our cats Cyam was an adorably fat Siamese cat who would talk back to us. Yes whenever we would talk to him, he would reply to us in his cat language. If we said a long sentence, he would reply in a long sentence too. We never really understood what he said but it was something in his cat language. It was too cute. One of our cats Sweetie would say nom-nom-nom when she was having something she loved. Our cat Snow white would make a sigh sound every time our mama would hug her tightly. It was her way of saying ‘Oh there she goes again’.
I remember recently, I was sitting in our lounge in Islamabad alone and my cat Muffin passed the room outside the door. Unable to contain my excitement I exclaimed ‘Mera bacha, Idhar ajao’ and got back to my work. A minute later, our helper came from the kitchen thought I was calling him and said ‘jee baji?’I replied ‘No I wasn’t calling you. I was just calling Muffin’. I said that and for a few seconds we both starred at each other blankly. We both know that Muffin is deaf. Then it suddenly occurred to me that he must be thinking I’ve gone nuts as I’m talking to my deaf cat. But he knows we always do that. Muffin by the way understands sign language fully and responds well to it. In case he really doesn’t want to get up and come when we call him, he just closes his eyes and pretends he hasn’t seen our hand gesture. Eight out of ten times, he comes when he’s signaled. Every animal has his or her own unique habits too. Muffin has this incredibly insane hair obsession. He loves sniffing long hair. He will sit on a girls shoulder and sniff her hair for hours literally. He will smell our hair, pull hair ends with his paws and close his eyes as if its something divine. Cyam was obsessed with sucking clothes. He would literally sit on our stomach and suck all our clothes wet. It was gross but he was such a baby. Our Cocker Spaniel Peperica lived with us for 14 years. She had her own habits too. Her good habit was that she was mama’s shadow. She would follow her wherever she would go. On the contrary, she would always go to my sisters brand new wooden floor corner and pee there for some odd reason we never ever understood. And then my sister would be running after Peperica and yelling ‘Oh no, not again’. It was a hilarious sight actually. Not so much for her though.She wasn’t the only one who hated Peperica because of this. Our front door neighbor actually used to yell ‘I’ll kill you with a bullet’ as Peperica would wait till the gate was opened and she would run to their house and do all her business in their nicely kept garden. Our Springer Spanielish Tessa was such an athlete. No matter how high the fence was, she would always high jump and cross it. It was actually impossible to trap her anywhere. She loved biting people in our neighborhood.
Our family and I feel very strongly about kindness towards stray animals. We have often stopped our car in various parts of the country and given a piece of our mind to children and grownups who are being mean and nasty with animals. Sadly, we have witnessed a group of people hitting a poor wild bore with sticks. To our shock, the people around were encouraging that inhumane person. I asked my driver to stop the car right there. I ran to the scene and gave those people hell. Once in Karachi at the beach, we were just sitting and enjoying family time when I heard a dogs cry. It was a limping dog and I saw that someone was throwing stones at him. I was extremely furious, ran to the spot and shouted on the top of my lungs at a bearded man who was sitting there with his wife in burqah. I felt a little bad as he must have been thrice my age but what he did was unforgivable. I just hope I made him think a little about his actions. It is a common scene on roads where travelers on donkey-carts are hitting donkeys with sticks to make them walk faster. I have often seen badly injured donkeys struggling for their lives with heavy burden on their back and they’re being hit like that. It really breaks my heart to see such scenes.
I have often seen kids running after stray cats, stoning them or teasing them with sticks. I once stopped my car in F-10 as soon as I saw a little boy indulged in such an act. I put my window down, honked and yelled at him ‘What are you doing? Don’t do that!’. He was puzzled, looked at me and assured me that he isn’t hitting anyone else. He is only hitting a cat‘.
I hate this philosophy of illiterate people. Allah made humans, animals and insects. We should not be cruel to any of his creation. Torture is torture and it is never ever justified. I always tell such people ‘how would you feel if you were treated the way you are treating animals?’ We should always put ourselves in others shoes. So many times, I have come across animals who have been injured or scarred for life. Some can’t walk properly; some can’t hear or see. What a sadistic person it must be who actually hits an animal and disables it for the rest of its life.
Generally, in Pakistan, wild animals are either too shy and unfriendly or they are ferocious. That is a proof that as a society we are not kind. We are cruel with animals. When I was in Sri Lanka, wild life was so friendly. Squirrels would come, sit in our laps, wild dogs would accompany us on walks. Land monitors would come and sit with us and sun bathe.Even their elephants were friendly and not afraid of human beings. This gives such a good impression of a nation which is kind to weaker mammals. It is completely wrong thinking that a person is defending one’s self by hitting them. An animal never threatens or bites a person unless it is threatened by the human. Stop threatening animals, be kind to them and you will never be threatened by one again.
Today a cat sleeping on a seat in Daewoo station prompted me to write this post. I was so happy to see that no one was bothered about the cat. The cat seemed so happy. That’s all animals need. The space to do what they want. All they want is love. And that no one hits or hushes them away. Is that too much to ask for? Why can’t everybody just mind their own business and never be nasty to animals around them? Live and let live. Hats off to foundations like Ayesha Chundrigar Foundation and PAWS (Pakistan Animal Welfare Society) who are making an effort and raising awareness against cruelty to animals. I would love to know about other organizations who are creating such awareness or doing something for the welfare of animals. Please let me know if you know about any?
Only when we give our pets space and are kind to them can we expect them to be themselves. That’s when they show us their personality. If an animal is shy and avoiding humans, it is mostly a sign that its not being treated well. Like humans, animals also have distinct personality traits. Some are introvert. Some are extrovert. However, only if we let them be, we can see what they’re really like. I would say that life is so much better with pets. They’re fluffy and adorable and make our days so much brighter.
Let us all join hands and make sure we are kind to animals. Let no animal suffer in this world. Lets make this world a joyful and peaceful place for humans and animals.