Meet Pie the kitten. My daughter rescued her from a pile of rubbish outside a hospital. The vet said she was only about ten days old. Our beautiful Russian friend had spotted her hanging around with a mama cat and litter of kittens who were several months older and rescued her out of the traffic a few times, where disorientated she had wandered into a busy road.
Pie’s rescue was her not-so-evil plan; she already has so many rescued animals in her house that her husband has basically banned her from getting any more. She was babysitting my daughter while I was at Hindi class and happened to ‘show’ her the kittens. When I picked up my daughter we went for ice-cream which inevitably led us past the pile of rubbish and kittens. Looking down at the little lost kitten and my daughter’s trembling lip, pleading ‘we can’t just leave him here – he will die’ I knew there was only one thing to do. Thus kitten had the rickshaw journey of his life and my partner had a phone call that started ‘please don’t be cross but…..’
After a long night picking around fifty fleas off the poor kitten and trying to get some milk in via a kid’s medicine syringe, the next day was a rollercoaster. We took Pie to the vet who confirmed he was in fact a she and needed kitten formula milk. We dropped her home and set off on the scooter to buy some. By the time we returned the kitten was limp and floppy, her tongue hanging out and eyes rolled back. We rushed her back to the vet’s and there followed a feline version of a scene from Casualty. Pie was put on a drip and given oxygen whilst being injected with all kinds of medicines and warmed up with a hair dryer.
Several hours later the head vet came in and was told “chances bahut come.’ I understood the hindi (chances are very less) and tried to prepare my daughter for the worst. I think the severity of the situation was somewhat lost on my four year old who was apparently ‘getting bored.’ Still, I thought I would spare her the trauma of seeing her new pet die and took her out for chaat and ice-cream. When we came back we were very pleasantly surprised – Pie was awake and staggering around like a tiny furry drunk. We took her home and I spent the night giving her rehydration salts every two hours and refilling the hot water bottle she was sleeping on.
The vets were wonderful – they were so shocked that our little street urchin Pie had survived that they treated her for free. It is wonderful to see such genuine compassion and dedication and now they are our vets for life!
A few months later we have a naughty, mischievous and very cute new member in the family. She has even stolen the heart of my cat-hating partner and the rest of his family and spends most of the time wrestling with her my little pony fluffy toy and viciously attacking shoes or flat on her back on my lap.
Pie is the second animal we rescued, the first was a dog I found half dead outside Matunga Road station. As I sat with his head in my lap, waiting for the animal ambulance to come and take him to the animal hospital in Dadar I had some varied reactions from the public. Many stopped to ask me what on earth I was doing and when I explained ‘animal rescue’ many commended me, but more than half thought it was hilarious and some even tutted and gave me disgusted looks. The heroes of the hour were some school kids who helped guide the ambulance men who couldn’t understand my accent and terrible Hindi.
I named the dog Matunga after the station and paid for his treatment and went back to visit him and take him for walks with my family. Sadly my partner was a little more realistic about adoption (we both work full time and live on the 8th floor) and I vowed to find him a home. I was then struck down with fever and illness (so much for karma!) and missed the call from the hospital saying he was fit and they were releasing him back in the same spot I found him. He’s still there outside the station – I see him often and always bring him food and water, always getting the same bemused looks from passers by. Sometimes he follows me to the train and it breaks my heart. Now his fur has grown back and he is fussy about what brand of biscuits he eats so I guess he is not doing too bad.
Pie is soon to get neutered – she had her first heat and spent the nights howling out the window ‘come and get me boys!’ During this episode new neighbours moved into the flat next door. They left the very same night claiming the house was haunted! I did wonder if it was Pie’s cries for a mate that they mistook for a ghoul!
Everyday I see so many stray animals. It seems the people who are most kind to them are the humans who are also sleeping on the streets and the building watchmen – in return the cats chase away the rats and the dogs stand guard at night.
However, there are also some wonderful organisations in Mumbai who are making a difference. If you are still unpersuaded by my cute ball of feline fluff to adopt a stray then take a look at some of the links below – you can always donate or even go walk a dog or two at a weekend (be warned though – I bear no responsibility if you fall in love!)
plus a great list of helpline numbers in this blog: http://www.headsupfortails.com/blog/emergency-contact-numbers-for-animals-birds-mumbai/