(Part one under ‘Strange world of Domestic Animals’ series)
What do you know about your cat? First, let me ask this question to myself. What do I know about my own cat?
Well, Kaley Dhadey lives on his own rules. He has been living with my family – the Bolakhe family – for about a year now. Our neighbour Bhaskar Buwa brought it originally from D-Gaun, a village lying west of the main bazaar of Kushadevi. But, Bhaskar Buwa was unlucky as his dedicated effort went all in vain. The first time Kaley was about to be introduced in Bhaskar Buwa’s home, he quickly leaped out of the rice sack (Dhokra) that was holding him within and ran out of sight. Kaley was probably six months or so when he achieved that feat.
For a couple of months, he roamed around the village in search of food. He must have felt desperate when Bhaskar Buwa trapped him. And his initial impression towards humans must have been dreadful. The result – he couldn’t get near to another human soul for months. But, things were about to change.
How we met?
From the very first impression of Kaley Dhadey in our house, we wanted to keep him. I can clearly remember Buwa saying, ‘Son. Go and feed him milk and kurauni. Rats are running riot in the house. We need this beast inside.’ Our lucrative effort paid up as Kaley returned again the following day. And he is living with us ever since.
As he started living with us many of his unique characters became noticeable. I have heard that cats sleep for astounding sixteen hours a day. And now I don’t have a second thought on that. Kaley sleeps next to my work desk throughout the whole day. Kaley and his friends are nocturnal. They love to be alert in the midst of a cold night looking for prey. At around 5:30 am as I begin my day, Kaley begins his sleeping ritual. He silently passes through the doors of Barhatali and climbs into my bed. If I am unwelcoming in the bed, he finds solace in my work chair. Later on, I greet him with a cuddle which he seems to hate. He stares and submissively I let him sleep.
Well, Kaley Dhadey a/k Felis catus was born in D-Gaun and raised in Bolakhe Gaun but his ancestors were not always close to the humans. A short educational documentary from ‘PBS Eon’ explains it adroitly. Excavation of a 9,500 year old human fossil in Cyprus found ‘a cat’ buried along, suggesting a long history of human-cat relationship then thought previously. Its ancestors, the ‘Wild cats’, or as scientists call – Felis silvestris libyca, are still found in part of North Africa and Southwestern Asia.
Human and wild cats originally had a ‘friends with benefit’ kind of relationship. Scientists call such friendship, ‘commensalism’. Its double benefit scheme of nature. Sneaking around human territory wild cats could easily find prey like rats and mice. Devouring nuisances that could potentially spoil harvested crops benefited humans as well. Such domestication, as researchers believed, could have happened twice: first in South-west Asia about 10,000 years back and later in Egypt 3,500 years back. Kaley Dhadey once killed a dove. That completely drove me mad but one can’t control an animal’s instinct after all.
No matter the evolutionary instinct and their wild history, cats are human companions. They are not only adorable for their appearance but also pose a variety of benefits. I was particularly astounded to learn the fact that ‘Owning a cat can even lower the chance of fatal cardiovascular disease’. Such an astounding evolutionary pal surely needs to be acknowledged and understood more often.
So tell me again, What do you know about your cat?