Archives for category: Pets

neel after 2 days

It is quite remarkable how an infant is reared to adulthood. A baby at birth looks so fragile that parents hardly believe that it could survive from one day to another. We have most of us known or are in the process of experiencing the challenges which parents face when a baby is brought back home from hospital care – the cradle, the frequent changing of diapers, the feeds, the allergies, the fevers and constant threat of infections. The odds appear insurmountable. Yet as if possessed by some superhuman maternal and paternal powers they are up to the challenge. Parents become dedicated slaves to a natural force, from wakefulness to slumber and the process never ends, continuing from stage to stage, from rocking in a cradle to crawling, to a toddler, to teaching linguistic skills and imparting learning. Each walking adult represents the miraculous outcome of that enormous dedication of decades of unrelenting care and meticulous rearing which we take so much for granted when looking at a crowded street of ‘self reliant’ grown ups. It is simply amazing if we sit back and think about it.

myna with youngWalking in a park I happened to see three Starlings (Mynas) together. The chick now nearly adult would scramble up to one parent and opening its beak wide, flutter its wings to arouse sympathy, begging for a feed.

The parent, ignoring this  normally irresistible pleading, just walked ahead foraging in a pile of rotten leaves and earth for worms. I noticed that it was not actually foraging but putting up a mock show to teach the youngster what needed to be done beyond demanding a feed beak to beak. I also noticed that slyly it was looking back from the corner of its eyes to see if the message had penetrated the thick avian skull! Before long the little Myna began to imitate the process, not very clear what it was looking for. Days later I saw a happy threesome foraging away for worms. The young bird had come of age in nature’s fast-forward for the animal kingdom.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAgain I observed how my pet Budgies diligently reared their young in the nest box. Both parents taking turns would gently pry open their tiny beaks and proceeded to regurgitate processed seed. I also saw how the father later began to feed the mother who now never left the nest box regurgitating into her beak so that she would be fed and be able to feed her chicks as well. Later again when the chicks developed feathers and left the nest both parents would be on either side showing the chick how to pick up seed on its own, by demonstrating through mock pickings with a stern eye on the chick to see if it followed suit.

beta with spawnThen in my fish tank, the Siamese Fighting fish Beta Splenden, after wrapping himself sensuously around the female forced out her eggs, fertilizing them instantly by spewing out his seminal discharge and as the eggs rained down both male and female forgot their sexual antics and quickly began to pluck them as they fell to rush up to a bubble nest created by the gorgeous male, to deposit them one in each bubble of sticky saliva. Then the lady was chased away after a night of orgiastic embraces had exhausted her of all her eggs. If she was not then removed she would have been killed by her paramour. The male considers himself the sole caretaker of his brood. He then kept tending the eggs, mending his nest and diligently picking up falling eggs to replace them in the nest. When the fry burst forth from the eggs he would chase them and gulp them up and returning to the nest spit them out into it. Once they were freely swimming his work was done and then he would allow himself proudly to be surrounded by them. Until this stage was reached he would be fasting. Later when it was time to feed the fry with dry fish food a problem arose – they refused to see it as food. I was then advised to introduce smarter fry of another species the Platy who readily accepted fish food from birth. Once these were introduced the Beta fry learnt from them how to snap up the fish food.

Credit :

Credit :

The point here is how every adult whether man, lion, eagle, whale horse or whatever needs instruction on what it can feed on. and where to find it. What may take years to learn through instinct or a process of hit and miss, is quickly grasped in moments through emulation, imitation and duplication. The acquisition of skills can only take place when there is instruction, which the word education encompasses in a larger context. The knowledge that we acquire through a liberal education, learning about skills, acquiring abilities and scientific knowledge in a matter of years, what it has taken mankind millenia to acquire. The specializations that combine to create human technologies, culture and civilization are skills that have to be imparted from generation to generation.

A bird will never know what and where to forage and would die of starvation if the parents died before it could learn those skills. A lion cub would never survive if it never learnt to hunt. The most helpless  of them all, yet the most intelligent, the human child, requires decades of learning to become more than a mere savage.

Instinct is important, it teaches the bird how to make a nest ( there is no school for this) but before that instinct can come into play the rearing is vital for survival – nurture precedes nature. Every generation will require that nurture. But equally Nature will ensure nurture – the maternal or paternal instincts which drive us frantically to provide progeny with nurture, care and protection even if it were to be at the sacrifice of ones life. So in the end Nature ensures nurture and nurture ensures survival.



The unity in diversity of creation works on the twin principle of Similarity and difference. In the previous post I sought to  examine this in some depth. Even in the same species we would observe that this is quite marked. No two humans can ever be the same. Nor for that matter two of any kind.



Here I am reminded of our four cats. when I arrived in Morocco to take up my diplomatic assignment I found that in addition to the beautiful residence we also inherited three cats left behind by our predecessors. There was Senior the neutered Tom who looked like a mini tiger and Daisy and Sandy, both ladies again neutered. Senior was large, well-mannered and serious given to meditating, I suspect about the next meal. Daisy was attentive and possessive about the house but friendly and  followed us everywhere  as if to keep an eye on us. Sandy was always absent and aloof. Their former mistress would make it a point to visit Morocco from time to time apparently just to see them again. She would arrive at the residence unannounced and tell the guard not to bother us as she had come only to see her cats! We therefore only by chance got to meet her once when the only communication was about how we should look after them. She also always came loaded with gifts of special  meals for her cats. We knew how she felt about her cats and did not impose ourselves on her.



Then one day a grey cute kitten appeared from nowhere in our yard and we said wo not a fourth cat!! The kitten made herself at home and showed no sign of leaving though we tried to find out if she had strayed from the neighbours. so while we were forced to adopt the three cats left by the predecessors, the fact was that Kitty simply decided to adopt us, no questions asked. ( notice her smile). Alas Sandy could never be found for a pic to be taken lol)

All four were doubtless cats in every shape and form. All given to scratching tress and furniture and if they found a rodent each would display cat-nature by capturing it, playing with it and disabling it sadistically before making a meal of it. One can say that they did all the things which cats do and in this they were identical. But there the similarity ended. It felt as if four beings were housed in cat bodies and the four beings were as different as chalk and cheese. Apart from the fact that they were cats there was absolutely nothing similar about them. Those who have kept pets or observed animal behaviour carefully would understand this well.

For instance my Budgerigars or for that matter my Chinese Paradise Fish, no two were alike and I don’t mean their colours. A father Budgey is meant to share feeding his offspring as much as the mother or they wont survive. But one of my father Budgeys was a pathological killer of his own offspring. Entering the nest he would begin by pretending to feed them and the mother but then would proceed to  wound the chicks rather than feed them, to the horror of the screeching mother Budgey. I could hear it happening in the night not knowing what to do for if I separated him the chicks would die of starvation along with the mother who never left her nest. fortunately the mother kept his pathology in check with her calls and the chicks survived with their wounds. The other males were dutiful fathers.

The external form only defines the animals general traits, habits and diet but beyond that the being within is entirely different from one entity to another. One is tempted to believe that for animals too a law of Karma must apply. Limited intelligence cannot absolve pathological behaviour in an animal. His actions too would be deemed criminal in nature. The animal world must have its own ethics, and actions there would doubtless produce their own consequences. In the Hindu way of thinking, good fathers would graduate to being a more intelligent species if not man!

Coming back to our four cats, they were really more than just cats as individuals with differences that had nothing to do with ‘cat-nature’ or ‘cat-form’. This inspired me to write a poem on our four cats which I would like to share with you:

                                          F O U R    C A T S

Here comes Senior –

We inherited him with the house,

Trusting neutered muscularity,

Full fat cat, deep in thought

About fish meals, sidles

Up against your calf

And as you fondle his head

Salivates involuntarily onto the floor

With love,

Then politely shakes off your touch

As he would the rain drops;

That’s how cats are about us.


And then there is Daisy

Looking imploringly up into your eyes

Running ahead with tail up

Boldly into your house,

Grazing door jambs, washing machines, footstools,

Your legs, these are all hers,

Persuasive beggar,

As she opens her pink mouth

And articulates a cat call.


Sandy on the other hand

Is a vegetarian

And hardly ever around

From secret missions, once

When I opened a window I found

Her sleeping secretly in the crook

Of the sill, private paradise,

Safe from rain and draughts

And marauding dogs –

She doesn’t enter the house, or salivate

But like the others if you pet her

On the head, after a meal, will

Shrug it off.


But Kitty, who adopted us

By just moving in, is different,

She calculates,

You can see her doing it

As she moves her head quickly

To size things up,

One of them was that we’d make

Good pets,

Remarkable thought for just a kitten,

Nor did we have the heart

To neuter her, so she turned full female

And unloaded a belly full of kitten

Who in turn have joined

Their mother

With sad trusting faces

To possess us.



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