I once read somewhere that you can keep a dog; but it is the cat who keeps people. I didn't really understand this because I have never had pets but I was always intrigued to learn about them through pet parents and their never-ending stories.
Recently, I heard of a book titled Cat People by Devapriya Roy. It is a collection of all things cats - short stories, personal essays, lists, original artwork and photo stories.
It documents the lives of cat parents through essays and short stories and I think there couldn't be a better way to learn about cats. So we sat in conversation with Devapriya Roy and asked her what inspired her to write this book. And it's not what you'd usually expect.
One of her students, who wished she adopted her, offered to be her human cat. Because cats can take care of themselves and are also writer-friendly.
This student of mine was a great reader. So I used to bring her books from home every week. Once she asked me if I could adopt her, so she would have complete and unfettered access to all my bookshelves forever. I had replied that, alas, I was too poor to adopt her; also, too useless.
Wanting to write about her human cat in an anthology of cat essays, Devapriya came up with the idea of what is now published as Cat People.
Readers can expect a whole range of cat stories in this book. There are stories and essays by people who are crazy about cats, those who have nothing to do with cats and even those who hate cats.
It seems to be such comprehensive and interesting collection of well-written stories that even someone like me who's never had pets has already started loving the book just by the looks of it. You will find stories by some well-known personalities like Varun Grover, Vidya Rao, Gurmeher Kaur and Sandip Roy.
This book is for everyone and not just cat parents. Moreover, it's an attempt to change the age-old mindset of people who do not like cats or hate having them in their homes. Devapriya puts it beautifully. She says:
Cats are very independent-minded and that's one of the biggest reasons why the younger generation loves them. They echo their own predilections and I think that is why cats are considered such beloved pets today. There is a huge generational shift there.
You will get to read essays by writers like Vangmayi Parakala and Anukrti Upadhyay who have tried to understand the cultural reasons why cats were not quite popular pets in traditional homes and are now getting a nuanced conversation started on how it is to really live with/around cats.
There are list essays like '16 Things About Cats (and Boys)' by Gurmehar Kaur that will give you a new perspective altogether. Here's an excerpt from the book.
Courtesy: Simon and Schuster
While compiling these interesting stories about cats, Devapriya interacted with a lot of pet parents. Whether dogs or cats, one thing common among all of them is the generous love they have for their furry babies. Unconditional love.
When asked if Devapriya has cats, she said:
You can’t have cats. Cats have you.
This pretty much sums up everything about cats.
Whether you are a cat person or not, you need to read this book. Get your copy here.