Have you ever thought how it would be to have two cats as pets? This thought gives rise to a lot of questions in one’s mind… Not anymore! Meet Tinkerbell and Tiger, a wonderful loving duo that proved that two cats can be a family to each other. Priyadarshika, their human companion, shares with us their amazing journey full of love and care…

When did Tinkerbell and Tiger come in your life? 

I spent my childhood in Calcutta, where I remember growing up in a house, with a lot of pets, cats and dogs, most of them rescued. It was the best part of my childhood – the bond I shared with them. My husband knew that I always missed having pets when I moved to Mumbai, so for my birthday, he decided to surprise me.

I still can remember the day when I came back home from work, to find Tinkerbell and Tiger sitting near the Christmas tree, already playing with each other! Now that’s what you call a real Christmas surprise! The happiness was so overwhelming, especially to see that they settled right in, without any trouble.

What equation did Tinkerbell and Tiger share with each other?

Tinkerbell was a diva right from the start; she was full of energy and was always trying to find new games to play. Tiger on the other hand was the perfect companion, with an easy-going, laidback nature, who went along with her games! We realized, even while they were kittens, that they were quite a pair who were perfectly content with each other, while we were out for work. They would keep themselves busy with their own games. Anybody who met them would call them ‘made for each other’.

There was this one time, when we had to take Tiger to the vet, Tinkerbell was rather distraught, she kept looking for him all over the house, calling him out, and crying till he got home. They were extremely fond of each other and had a wonderful rapport.

How did you like to spend time with them?

For any pet parent, I think it’s easy to relate how difficult it is initially to leave the house when they are small. I remember when they were kittens, leaving the house for office was really emotionally draining for me. We used to rush back home, as soon as possible and wished we had more time to spend with them. For both of us, weekends were just blissful, where we would spend time playing with Tinkerbell and Tiger, get to know them better, and relax with them.

Incidentally, as destiny would have it, exactly a week after their vaccinations were done, nationwide lockdown was implemented for the pandemic, and we had to work from home. We realized that it was almost like a god-given opportunity to spend more time with Tinkerbell and Tiger, and watch them grow up from up-close. While we were dealing with manifold challenges of the pandemic, their presence in the house was really transformative for us. Their funny antics and mischievous nature, always kept the ambiance in the house positive and fun. Tinkerbell and Tiger really helped us focus our energies towards productive pursuits, and our mind to stay positive through the whole lockdown.

After losing Tinkerbell, did you notice any change in Tiger’s behaviour?

Tiger shared an inexplicable bond with Tinkerbell, and even donated blood to help her in her fight. When we lost Tinkerbell, I think Tiger sensed our grief, and he was there for us throughout. From a naughty, wilful cat, he became more sober, more loving, more understanding to our needs. Tinkerbell was the apple of my husband’s eyes, and even though Tiger wasn’t particularly attached to him, he sensed that he needed to support him. He used to go and nudge him, wanting to be petted. He built up a bond with him, when he seemed to intuitively know that his humans needed affection and support.

Sometimes, I see Tiger sniffing all the places that were Tinkerbell’s ‘spots’ and hiding places and I know that he misses her very dearly.

Do you feel there is any difference in availability of products and services for canines and felines in the market? Being a cat parent, how do you perceive this difference?

As a cat parent, I was actually rather overwhelmed by the fact that most of the products and services are usually targeted for canines; the products for felines are usually added as an afterthought. If you look at the competitions sponsored by brands, almost every big brand, until very recently, only targeted pet dogs. Only in recent times, organizations like the Feline Club of India have ensured that cats get their due recognition as pets. Pet ownership of cats in India has increased substantially over the past decade owing to change in the urban lifestyle and rising number of nuclear families, who prefer cats over dogs. I think that is reflecting in the rise of feline care products in the market considerably. I think it is a move towards more inclusive environment for felines in India.

How do you take care of Tiger’s grooming needs?

Tiger is a long-haired Persian cat and needs to be brushed daily, in order to prevent him swallowing hairballs while grooming himself. We usually give him a bath once every 4 months and do regular ear-cleaning once a fortnight. We give him a solution with his water, to avoid plaque on his teeth.

Do you take Tiger along when you travel?

Since the lockdown was implemented soon after we got them, we have not been travelling at all. However, Tiger is quite comfortable to go on drives with us. He loves sitting at window and watch the world go by. We intend to take him on a short trip or a weekend getaway with us, once the impact of the pandemic subsides.

Do you feel brands are doing enough to promote responsible petkeeping?

Awareness and outreach is the key to improving the trend of petkeeping and welfare of all cats. There are many myths that need to be busted, which I see some of the brands are doing very effectively. There are several misconceptions about cats that are still quite prevalent in India, especially, regarding the health and well-being of cats. Some people still live with the concept that most cats can survive on the leftovers or that cats drink milk. We have heard of cat parents who also de-claw domestic cats to avoid furniture getting scratched, however it is not something that is good for the cats. These are absolute myths, and need to be busted. Just like dogs, cats need a healthy meal to survive and thrive.

Your thoughts on pet ownership in India.

I feel ‘preventive medical care for cats’ is an area that needs improvement in India. Many people still go by the saying that ‘cats have 9 lives’ and while it may be true in some cases, there is a definite need for research on feline infectious diseases that do not have any treatment as of yet. As a cat parent who dealt with it first hand, I think a three-pronged holistic approach is essential –  

  1. Education – Educating cat owners, breeders, and conservationists about feline health by providing timely information and by promoting public understanding and awareness of feline issues.
  2. Research– Finding ways of preventing and curing diseases of cats by conducting and sponsoring breakthrough feline health studies.
  3. Outreach– Providing timely expert guidance and support when unforeseen feline diseases or health crises emerge.