AS you are headed on your way to school or the office or the bazaar, you are bound to come across several cats, mostly stray. If you are walking, you might come across a feline which brushes itself against your legs or if you happen to be driving, it might scurry past your car, giving you a scare.

The best spot to find at least half a dozen cats and kittens lurking around for morsels of food is at the poultry or butcher’s shop or even a fish-seller. Few shoppers are kind enough to give a piece of chicken or meat or fish to some cat. Well, they can hardly afford any for themselves in these days of ever-rising prices of edibles and steep inflation, so how do you expect them to give something to an animal, however small it might happen to be?

If you visit a local restaurant, you won’t be surprised to find a couple of cats rubbing against your shoes or sandals, expecting a chewable piece to be thrown towards them. Some people either shoo them away out of annoyance or throw them a chicken leg so as not to be bothered further.

Cats can be the most innocent creatures on earth at times, especially if you happen to have one as a pet. When they feel hungry or want a bite, they will look towards you while mewing in a soft and bizarre way that automatically makes you want to open your fridge for them. They know exactly how to melt your heart. If there is a certain spot where you feed them, they will have reached it before you while continuously mewing. And if you are a second too late in putting the food in their bowl, they will start jumping towards it.

Red or white meat isn’t the only edible item that a cat would eat or milk isn’t the only drink that it would sip. Cats love eating desserts like custard and pudding. They find chocolates and coffee cakes to be most scrumptious, and would like nothing more than licking it out of your hands. Like Homo sapiens, they love chocolate milk and strawberry shake. At times, they even go for buttered toast with all their heart and soul.

When it is time for your pet to show its affection towards you, it will either climb or jump on your lap. At times it will find your lap to be the cosiest spot on earth to lie down and start purring. If you are a moment too late in picking it up, it might start scratching its claws against your jeans out of impatience. You almost get the feeling it was using your Levi’s as a scratching board to sharpen its claws.

By the way, both cats and their larger jungle/mountain cousins are the only species on earth that have retractable claws. Cats’ claws are retractable because of their anatomy. The claws come out of retraction when the cat spreads out its paw to scratch or knead. Besides, the claws do not get worn down by constant abrasion on a walking surface. Stealth is also another reason when it is out on a hunting spree.

Even while reading a book or newspaper or magazine, cats won’t leave you alone, seeking your attention. Strangely they somehow creep into literary pages also, as the author might mention ‘a cat among pigeons’. You often find the villain of a Hollywood film inquiring, ‘Cat got your tongue?’

If you have been separated from your cat for more than a day or two, it has an extremely strange way of showing how much it has missed you! If you rub your palm against its back, it will keep raising its back skywards each and every time you do so.

So the next time you come across a cat, show it some kindness, as mountaineers, commandos, spies, kung-fu fighters — even burglars — learn so much from cats, from scaling walls to jumping from roof to roof,

and from growling to playing cat-and-mouse games.—Mohsin Maqbool Elahi

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