Mumbai Memoir 79- Meowing at Mumbai’s Cat Café Studio!
Cats had been a part of my life until year 2001. My childhood memories are flooded with me and my brother playing with cats. We used to fight on ‘who gets to hold the cat’ first!! The soft furry feel of a cat cuddled in my arms and its meowing always generates a calming effect on me. The last cat that we had as a pet was a jet-black cat with light green eyes! The elegance with which she performed her ‘cat walk’ was a visual treat and the kind of luxurious life she lived with us for 13 long years would generate envy in many minds.
Last weekend the memories of my pet cats got activated when I visited the Cat Café Studio located at Versova in North Mumbai. It is a theme cafeteria with a cause. Knowing about my love for cats, a friend of mine named Nikita Kamat, took me to the Cat Café Studio, where she gifted me the ‘positive experience’ of placing me in the company of cats! Nikita’s thoughtfulness of offering this unique birthday gift to me is highly appreciated.
I noticed that, if one visits the Cat Café Studio (CCS) for the very first time then an attendant receives you and informs you of the formalities. We are asked to remove our footwear before entering the main area where the cats are kept and also wash our hands thoroughly before touching the cats. Once settled at our booked table, we started watching the graffiti on the walls and observed the cats that roamed around freely. After closely examining the place I realized that besides being a theme café, there is a social cause at the core of running the place.
Started in 2010 with a compassionate intention of caring for rescued cats from the local vicinity, CCS is a private organisation run and funded by Zcyphher- An Independent Creative Agency. From 2015 onwards the café gained popularity among the Mumbaikars.
Click here for more information: http://catcafestudio.com/ The best part of the café is that all cats seen around while sipping one’s coffee or having a snack, are up for Adoption! Though the main café area just has around 12 cats for people to interact with, at a given time the place hosts approximately 30-40 cats on their premise. The CCS promotes adoption of rescued cats and encourages the visitors to care for the feline community, particularly who are homeless and weak. Click this video for more information: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVVRg4AXA7Q
As my evening at CCS ripened, I could sense a warm feeling run down my body, which I know was a result of touching, cuddling and caring for so many cats at a time. That’s not all, CCS will also stay in my memory for yet another reason. I met and connected with Anushka Joshi, a young writer who is a frequent visitor at the CCS. Anushka is Nikita’s college buddy who currently is studying Screen Play Writing at Whistling Woods International, a Mumbai based film school of international repute. As we socialized around the cats, Anushka, Nikita and myself shared our thoughts on journalism, poetry and compassion for animals. It was quite impressive to know that at a mere age of 18, Anushka has published a book titled ‘If Time Thinks’, which is a collection of her poems!
The themes of her poems, she has written, range from moments of history such as Darwin at the funeral of his youngest child to a young Joseph Stalin delivering a love letter! There are also poems about ordinary people-from kids who are bullied at school to the citizens of Pompeii (Italy), in their last moment, as they met with the lava in a civilization that had no word for ‘volcano’! As I went through the poems written by Anushka, I realized that she has an eye for details and possesses good articulation & lateral thinking skills, as she expresses herself in the poems that she has written. To buy Anushka’s book ‘If Time Thinks’ click here: https://www.flipkart.com/if-time-thinks-collection-poems/p/itme6s42gkqz24ph or email publisher at firstname.lastname@example.org
As I bid good bye to the cats at CCS that night, I felt good, of spending my time qualitatively, first by petting and cuddling the cats, and then engaging in intellectual discussion and sharing some fun moments with Nikita and Anushka. Above all, the air at the café that night was fragrant with love and compassion that was expressed towards the cats.
I believe, showing genuine love and compassion to the rescued cats (and also towards other animal species in the world) by humans, surely will help the cats to heal on their trauma, which certainly will create positive experience for them and help them get stronger, as they take on the challenges of their respective lives, just like we humans do!
*Special thanks to Nikita Kamat for introducing me to Cat Café Studio and Geeta Sonawane for her support in writing this article.
Photo Courtesy: Nikita Kamat & Shraddha C. Sankulkar