The family of four drove away in the cab, leaving behind a cloud of dust and their former fifth member, their ex pet cat Milo, who staring into the distance started contemplating how half a decade of living together meant nothing to the humans. Attached to his neck was a collar with a leash which was tied around a telephone pole. One last act of ‘kindness’ done to him by his former family. He knew this was bad news. Pet cats don’t survive very long on their own in the streets of East Delhi. It wasn’t because of the strays. Unlike most house cats, Milo did not hate the strays. They weren’t something he was afraid of; in fact, his own mother had been a stray up until his birth.
Milo knew the real issue was ‘The Humans’. He knew that humans spread the propaganda about the strays and sowed division between the two groups. Painting the strays as wild, unfaithful, dangerous, prone to accident and flea ridden. But the humans didn’t stop there, they built more barriers. By telling cats that dogs were dangerous and spreading the ‘Crazy Cat Lady’ disinformation amongst the dog folk, the humans removed all hopes for inciting change. The final nail in the coffin of solidarity was when house cats were no longer allowed to discuss topics like quantity of treat distribution, brand of kibble, type of wet food and zoomie duration. The cat influencers on social media pushed the narrative and that was echoed with the regular cat owners. He wondered whether those cats had willingly participated in spreading this message or if they had simply resorted to being props in exchange for treats. A more disturbing reality could be cat wine addiction. Milo suspected the drink to be a human ploy for more control, albeit momentary.
But as the sun started to set, doubts crept into Milo’s mind. His humans had been really good to him up until now. Maybe they really couldn’t afford the pet transport fare. And other than his mom, he really had never met any other stray cats. What if the stereotypes were true? “No it couldn’t be!” he thought. The propaganda was really powerful, one had to admit. He had to do something and not just about his current situation, but about the system itself.
“Or maybe I could try to find another home.” he reasoned with himself.
“What?! And just let this injustice go?” another voice inside him hissed.
Conflict reigned in his mind now. If he found another home, he’ll be alive and then maybe he could try and bring change from the inside. But what if he falls to the charms of the humans? He must give up the house cat life and work on his paws. If the cats rallied together and demanded change, then the humans will have to give it to them. Yes! That is how change will come! “They can’t just kill us all!” he thought.
While not misguided, Milo was naïve. To be fair, it was his first day as a stray. But right now, he was alone. Reduced to nothing more than a cat on a leash, the human stand-up comedy equivalent of ‘What’s the deal with airline food?’ And as the night fell, he yearned for a better tomorrow. The time for mourning had passed, for it was time to organize.