Kai was a tomcat with a soul of a dog. His mother was a stray who chose my parents’ home as her home. She would come and go, but usually had her meals at home. She was not even a year old when she had her first batch of kittens. Kai was her oldest, a boy; followed by two girls, Po and Che. I was home when they were just a few days old and I named them, inspired by a Bollywood movie title “ Kai Po Che”.
Kai, Po and Che were a delight to watch. They were cute white kittens with patches of grey. Their playfulness and naughtiness could warm up any heart. Their mother took good care of them. Shortly after, Che was given away. As they grew older, Po would hardly stay home. She wasn’t the hunting type and spent her time flirting and grooming herself. But Kai, the tomcat, was always home.
Kai loved people. He spent his waking hours around the home residents. He would follow them everywhere in the home premises. My mother had almost tripped over him several times. When scolded, he would sulk for hours. A lot of cajoling and pampering would finally bring him out of his shell. He would spend his nights hunting lizards and rats. And so was a late riser.
Kai was never the roaming kind. He loved spending time at home and hardly wandered off outside the home boundaries. He was caring and affectionate. On the contrary, his sister Po spent her waking hours outside home. When she came home, Kai would meow excitedly, always happy to let her eat first, that too, from his share of food. Even as adults, they spent quality time playing games. When Po had her kittens, it was Kai who took care of them. He was great uncle and brother. Po was hardly home. Having babies did not tie her down. She was living the life. And it was Kai who partly played the mother’s role.
Kai was never aggressive. We never saw him angry or aggravated. He was always calm and docile. When spoken to, he would reply with his modulated meows. He would let guests touch and caress him. He was a hit with children.
Kai died in October of 2017. I was visiting my parents with my husband, and so was my sister. He died of an infected abscess, which we discovered late. We suspect it was Po’s infamous boyfriend who hurt him. Vets in small towns like home are not really passionate about their patients, especially the local breeds. And so Kai could not be treated on time. They say, when it is time, it is time. So maybe it was really Kai’s time to go, his untreated abscess being only an excuse. The whole family was there during his last days, with hearts full of love and concern. May be he wanted it that way. Only Po was not there to comfort him, she was not home as usual. Kai was just one and a half years old.
In his short life, Kai taught us many things. He showed that one can break stereotypes and emerge as a unique individual. Cats are usually stereotyped as selfish, snobbish and conceited. Further, tomcats are usually known to be aggressive, tough fighters, kitten haters, selfish and wayward. Kai was none of that. He was full of kindness and love, always ready to give. He was good-natured and the gentlest of cats. He actually behaved like a family dog rather than a tomcat, always giving, always generous. And that’s why we say that Kai might have been a tomcat, but he had the soul of a dog.
By the way, Po has had several litter of kittens over the years. But she still is not able to manage them on her own.