PUSS THAT KICKS UP ALL THE FUSS
The cat that's not a cat! We met him on Sunday afternoon in a third floor apartment of a building in Bur Dubai. We are told not to call him a cat. Cutie Boy does not like being called a cat. And Cutie Boy can not only count his chickens but also yours.
He can give answers to queries but in keeping with the times, he prefers multiple choices to the old-fashioned 'one-question, one-answer' sort.
Far as nationality goes, Cutie Boy is Persian, an expat in Dubai. Has been for almost seven years. Indian housewife and self-confessed researcher on cat-behaviour Hema Chandra bought her from a pet-shop in Satwa in 1998.
To her surprise, Cutie Boy didn't want to play kitten with her — no kittie-kittie smoochings, no cuddling and cooing... "He was different. I know cats. I grew up with them. I realised Cutie Boy was not the same as other cats. He was almost human..." At least human enough to know the ceiling from the floor. One of his first forays in impressing human beings was by identifying the ceiling fan whenever the words 'ceiling' and 'fan' were uttered together. Cutie Boy made heads turn by turning his head up, towards ceiling fans in apartments all over Dubai, mesmerising people in Karama, Bur Dubai and Satwa.
If that wasn't genius, there was more to come which pointed to the Einstein in this cat ..oops Cutie Boy! Next step was to say 'no' and 'yes' to questions, the 'saying' done by way of rocking the head back and forward, and by way of 'kisses' to Hema's cheek. By then word had gone out. About "this wonder cat in Dubai". The world media picked up stories. Cutie Boy featured in Animal Fair - "'Cat that Counts - Page 40'". Other reports appeared in other publications on Cutie Boy, about how he can identify body parts and colours, even take orders (like a dog!). Tell him 'go into the living room' and would slink into the living room, head held high!
"I've taught him numbers up to 20," says Hema. But when tested in higher mathematics, Cutie Boy impressed even high school principals and teachers. Sahadevan Panicker, a mathematician at the Gulf Modern School, has given Cutie Boy his certificate of approval. He says Cutie Boy is "extraordinary" and that he certainly has some "peculiar gift" with Math. "I tested him in algebra, geometry, Pythagorean and square roots, and he was right every time."
Forget mathematics, Cutie Boy even knows the chemical formula of sulphuric acid! Also what is blue vitriol? "I'm wonderstruck," writes a round-eyed Mrs Mini, a chemistry teacher.
Oh! By the way, Cutie Boy — who unlike other cats doesn't drink milk — is a linguist, too! He knows about eight languages among them Gujarati, Persian (his mother-tongue), Malayalam (Hema's mother tongue), English (he was born in the UK), Arabic (now that he is living in the UAE) and French (Ou est la lampe Cuty Boy). Formidable, is how Nimy Gopinath, French teacher, Indian High School, Sultanate of Oman, describes Cutie Boy. "I never expected this ...he can understand French very well." Enchante!
Unfortunately, Cutie Boy is not his "usual self" on Sunday afternoon. If at all he is even more reclusive than reputed to be, his disdain for human beings (other than Hema and family) complete, and total. Finally, when he does condescend to come out of 'hiding' he does that with a marked reluctance. So much so, when it comes to answering the usual lot of questions which is his usual lot whenever strangers troop in, Cutie Boy pulls back his head and rolls his cat-eyes, his way of saying 'No'. "Are you scared of them?" asks Hema, and Cutie Boy — the intelligent cat who does not like to called a cat — answers with a kiss to her cheek, his way of saying 'Yes'
To many people Cutie Boy gives the impression of being the laziest cat in town, if not in the world. He does not like other cats. Is not friendly with dogs. His only friend, if he has any, is a parrot called Meenu. Surprisingly, so far, Cutie Boy has not made Meenu part of his menu. Evenings, the parrot chatters and Cutie Boy seemingly lends her an ear, interested or disinterested nobody knows, and allows Meenu to sit next to him while he ponders the world around him.
For all that, photographer ILS Hameed is not impressed. He refuses to play cat and mouse with a cat who does not like to be called a cat. So Hameed clicks Cutie Boy and it turns out ...Cutie Boy is a cat! Picture-purrfect! Then again, for all we know, Cutie Boy might be out of this world, a Martian in disguise or from some planet that's not even in the Milky Way, where cats rule and man meows!