Souradeep Mitra wouldn’t have cared to assign a formal name to his cat. “Maaow, Mau Mau or Marrow is still what I call her but then it got difficult to answer people when they would ask me what her bhalo naam was,” says the DL Block resident.
When the cat first came to this family, she was in the peak of youth, getting serenaded by paramours left, right and centre. “Those days there was a song called Sheila ki jawani doing the rounds and we thought it fit her situation best. So Mau Mau came to be known as Sheila!”
It’s been 12 years since then and Sheila delivered three litters before she was ligated. “The kittens were adorable and even if we wanted to keep some of them, their mother would have none of it. She chased them off!”
Sheila is perhaps the only cat in the world to refuse fish. “She finds it down market. She only eats packaged food but will guard any fish in the house so other cats don’t make off with it,” says Souradeep.
The Mitras are an animal-loving family and have been contemplating getting a dog. “But we stop short wondering if the newbie would get bullied by Sheila,” Souradeep shrugs. “Why, she would chase our younger daughter Hiya around the lawn when the girl was little!”
All said and done, Sheila loves the family and will not tolerate any discord at home. “Once my wife Pradipta and I were having an argument and the kids and Sheila — though concerned — didn’t know what to do. Sheila was sure to be ignored if she tried to intervene so she did something she knew would get our attention — she bit our elder daughter Sreeja! The whole house turned to nurse the injured, scold the naughty and the argument was forgotten. Sheila got her way .”
Sheila likes playing the pendulum game and likes being scratched by the wooden back-scratcher Souradeep had got for himself. “She’ll forward her hands or legs to show exactly where she wants to be scratched. And if I get the spot wrong she’ll bit the scratcher,” he says.
And just guess how Sheila expresses her affection towards Souradeep. “She kills rats and squirrels and brings them to me! She wants the two of us to share her spoils,” he laughs. “Sheila has one job — to be cute and that she aces. She’s our living soft toy.”
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