It was a cold rainy day when my wife, Celine, and I rushed inside our new house, hunched over our backs with jackets on our heads. We were drenched in this unusually heavy downpour that hit us during the peak of the summer. But we were not worried about us. We were worried about the little package that we were carrying in a box. Celine struggled to open the door; her hand shivered slightly as the cool breeze stung our wet bodies. “Wait, let me,” I said. I took the key from her, gave her the box to hold and opened the door to our house. We stepped in and let out a sigh of relief as we shut the door to block the harsh coldness from coming inside. We looked down at the package that Celine was holding and two green eyes looked back at us in wonder. “Welcome home, kitty”, my wife said, smiling at the newest member of our family of two.

Celine and I moved into our new home two weeks ago. While I, being a freelance journalist, end up traveling quite a bit, Celine, a freelance graphic designer, has to create a peaceful workstation at home. The old studio apartment did not have enough space to compartmentalise our work lives from our personal lives. Our new house consists of a living room which leads to an open kitchen, two bedrooms (one of which is converted into a study), and a bathroom. It’s not a big place, but it is perfect for both of us. In the two weeks since we moved in here, neither of us have had the time to turn this apartment into a home. With my constant travel schedule and Celine’s deadlines, we haven’t been able to pause for a moment and design this abode. One weekend we managed to sneak in a dinner date at an Italian restaurant, which came highly recommended by few of our friends who live nearby. On our way home, we chanced upon a group of teenagers who were volunteers at an animal shelter. A dozen or so dogs and puppies were kept in cardboard boxes in front of the shelter, hoping to seek a new home. Among all the adorable little puppies lay a kitty curled up in a corner, watching the hyper puppies with his big green eyes. Celine, who has a thing for cats (which has become more intense after her obsession with Haruki Murakami books) instantly gravitated towards the kitty. I’m not really a pet person, but I caved when Celine looked at me with her pleading eyes. We bought the kitty and took him home with us in a box.

Since we did not have a lot of furniture, our home was the perfect place for the kitty to run around. Day one with the kitty was about ignoring our deadlines and watching him run and play all day long. Day two consisted of educating ourselves about the kinds of food cats eat. Day three was spent by trying to figure a name for the kitty. Day five went in panic mode as we couldn’t find the kitty anywhere in the house (Celine ended up crying because of it, “What if he ran away and got killed by a car on the street? Or worse, got eaten up by some bird?” We eventually found him curled up in a sleep, in the kitchen, behind the trash can). Day ten was the first time the kitty snuggled up on Celine’s leg, when he passed out after his meal of milk and a few pieces of our leftover fish (I instantly took a picture of it and shared it on all our WhatsApp groups). Day eighteen, both Celine and I were filled with scratches all over our hands and faces. Day twenty-five, the kitty tried to jump over a boiling pot of milk on the stove (Celine’s reflexes saved the little one). Day thirty, we still hadn’t named the kitty, maybe we'll just call him kitty. Day thirty-eight, the neighbour’s kid came to play with the kitty and went back home crying in fifteen minutes with scratches all over her arms. Day forty-two, I came home late to see Celine and the kitty nestled in the bed together, asleep (I took a picture and posted it on social media). Day fifty, the kitty jumped on Celine’s shoulder while she was on a video call with a client during a meeting (the client couldn’t stop awing after that).

The first fifty days with the kitty were eventful, exhausting and fun. We finally settled on the name and decided to call him Nino; that’s what Celine called her late-grandfather for the short while that she knew him. I thought it was weird to name the kitty after her grandfather, but the kitty seemed to respond to the name and I kind of liked the sound of it. Celine set up an Instagram account for Nino and got more than a thousand followers in the first week itself. Nino and the neighbour’s kid still despised each other; she nicknamed him 'fatty catty', while Nino hissed and meow-ed in anger every time he saw the kid.

Like most cats (I’m assuming), Nino had a thing where he would run away from us whenever we showered him with attention, but when we are deep into our respective work he would spring up on us, curl up on our lap with a purr and seek our attention with those big green eyes. One time, when Celine was on a Skype meeting with a client, which incidentally went past Nino’s lunch time, Nino jumped on Celine’s head and would not let go of her hair. Her client almost had a heart attack as Celine tried to deal with our little brat (till date I wish there was a video of this, it would have been hilarious to watch). Another time, when I was working on an article in the middle of the night, the deadline of which was the day before, Nino sneaked into the study and leapt on my laptop, deleting all of the work that I spent days writing. I ended up staying awake all night in panic mode as I tried to retrieve my work and eventually re-wrote everything for 26 hours straight. 

Celine would easily forgive Nino for all the mayhem he created every day, but I sometimes remained furious enough to not play with him when he would come to me with a purr and snuggle around my leg. So naturally, Nino liked Celine more than me. I guess it was also because she spent more time with him while I am away for work, for days at a stretch. Despite all his mischief, I did truly love him, but Celine, she loved him like a child that came out of her womb. Many a times (to my annoyance) she would go overboard with her love. We’ve ended up having a few fights because of it. For instance, one time she spent an exorbitant amount of money on a jacket for Nino. A jacket for a cat! It was so expensive that I got mad enough to not speak to her for two days. Her reasoning for spending a month’s rent on this frivolous pieces of clothing was: “But honey, it looks so cute on Nino!” A few days later, I saw Nino by the window with the jacket in his mouth, scratched to bits and used as a rag toy.

Our friends and family loved Nino as well. Celine had amassed a huge following on Nino’s Instagram account. She put up photos and videos of Nino being naughty, cute, scared, cuddly and more often than not, simply being adorable. Those green eyes and that gingery-white furry frame of his made him ‘Insta famous’. He even appeared on Buzzfeed’s list of ‘25 Most Adorable Felines to Follow On Instagram’, which included the infamous Grumpy Cat and fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld’s cat, Colette. All this ‘fan following’ did not make Nino a people’s person. He would either hide himself whenever anyone would come over or would keep meowing non-stop in their presence. When two crew members of an animal magazine had come to do a photoshoot with Nino and Celine, the little brat got so agitated that he ran, jumped and climbed all over the house and refused to stay still. Even Celine couldn’t calm him down. The magazine ended up using one of his pictures from the Instagram account instead. Another time, when I was interviewing someone at home, Nino puked out milk all over his shoes. And God forbid if anyone tried to pick him up; let’s just say they would be scarred, quite literally. But then at the end of the night, when it’s just Celine and me, he would would climb up on our bed and cuddle in with the warmth of our bodies as if to apologise for his impish behaviour. And all is forgiven as the three of us would go to sleep, like one happy little family.


For a cat, Nino ate like he had an endless pit in his stomach. Fatty catty, the nickname that the neighbour’s kid had for Nino stuck around. But obesity did not stop him from being active, especially when it came to troubling the kid. One time he left a dead rat at the doorstep of the kid’s house. Another time he left scratch marks all over the neighbour’s door. Obviously, we apologised profusely and had to reimburse for the damage. This animosity between Nino and the kid got so fierce that once Nino just flung himself on the kid’s face and refused to let go despite all thrashing and the screams. After that incident we grounded Nino from going out of the house. He had no choice but to play indoors, which over the period of time made him more fat and less active. For hours he would sit curled up in a corner, without making any movement. He would only get up to eat or to spy on the kid when she returned home from school. Celine and I were concerned about his weight so we went to a vet to get him checked. Nino was ecstatic to be out, but got skirmish when we got to the clinic. By the time we reached home he was in such a bad mood that he hid himself in a corner of the house and refused to eat all day.

Things got worse from then on; he became moody, grumpy and aloof. Celine and I eventually let him go out for a few hours in a day, under our supervision, of course, but that did not help his melancholy-ness. Celine was obviously upset about it; she would blame us for not treating him right, not taking good care of him and not training him. I kind of agreed with her, but I argued that he’s a cat, and cats are not as affectionate as dogs. Cats need their space and Nino was old enough to have a mind of his own, especially when we cut back on his freedom. All day long he would sit by the door, or the window, and watch the outside world, longing to be anywhere but inside. Tired and helpless, Celine broke down one night. Nino, sensing it, came and curled up on her lap, which put a smile on her face. He purred and got comfortable as Celine and I looked his green eyes, those beautifully big eyes that made us fall for him the first time we saw him in that tiny cardboard box. We smiled at each other and it felt like all was right again in our little family.


The next day, he vanished. We searched the whole house, the front yard, the neighbour’s house, the streets, but he was nowhere to be seen. We put up flyers, called out for help on WhatsApp groups and social media, but he was gone. Celine was inconsolable for days, but I understand that he ran away for his freedom. Despite all the love and affection, no one likes to be caged, physically and emotionally. Maybe we expected too much from him, maybe we didn’t treat him right, or maybe that’s just how cats are. They need their space. Maybe he will return one day and curl up on our bed as if nothing is wrong. Celine often spends hours going through his videos and photos. She still puts them up on social media with captions like ‘Come back home’ and ‘Miss those green eyes’. In no time, the account doubled in the number of followers after his disappearance, with love, sympathy and good vibes pouring in from strangers, making Nino famous as the most followed cat on Instagram.

April 21, 2020 10:41

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in the Reedsy Book Editor. 100% free.