I stay in Pune, a bustling city situated in Maharashtra, India. Fortunately, me and my pets stay away from the bustle of the big city in a quite nook.


We have a small mountain in front of our house, which is an ideal place for all feral cats and dogs to stay. Unfortunately, dogs often hunt down the cats and other small creatures leading to a lot of concern among cat owners like me. Fortunately, our two cats are indoors only and I found another good reason for keeping them inside.

The month of March brings with it long summer days and a whiff of summer holidays. Me and my sister, (who is expecting her first child) were sitting and having a heart to heart talk, even as my two cats rolled on the cold floor and complained wildly of the heat.  My sister increased the speed of the fan and we prepared to wind down the day with a book. Just then, we heard a yowl and a growl from outside. We are so accustomed to the sound that we have learnt to react to it immediately.

My father rushed down the stairs and a few minutes later came home with an injured, 2 months old kitten. One glance convinced us that the kitten was living its final few minutes on earth. In order to make it more comfortable, we applied turmeric powder on its wounds and placed it on a cloth in the balcony. By this time, the cats in my home had become agitated and had hid themselves under my big dog. It was such an ironical situation. A dog killed a kitten and here are my two frightened cats who are seeking protection from Bhutya, the biggest dog there can ever be.

dianaAfter a few minutes, the kitten stopped breathing. My two cats slowly and gradually started sniffing the kitten here and there and then stared at each other restlessly. For the next half hour they kept their vigil on the kitten. This vigil ended only when we carried away the kitten. Diana was the most shaken. She kept sniffing us all by turn and refused to eat her dinner. Manya recovered enough to curl up and go to sleep. But Diana refused to do even that. I wondered then, as I wonder now, did she see death for the first time? Did she understand the finality of death? Was she checking us all, especially Manya for signs of life? 

BhutyaI don’t know about other pet owners. But this was the first time I saw my pets reacting in such a way to a death of one of their own species. I would like to get an answer to my question, do animals, like humans understand the complexity of death? 


by Seema Shahane, India 

Editor's note:

If you have any comments to make on Seema's account, please contact me via the 'Contact Us' link and I'll mention them in a future issue of the Mewsletter   


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