Mumbai: Pet peeves no more in Versova's animal-loving society

Updated: Dec 30, 2018, 14:46 IST | Anju Maskeri

Wall-mounted cat stations, installed by feeders of Versova society, lead to drop in hostility towards strays

Mumbai: Pet peeves no more in Versova's animal-loving society
Mirza Askari has installed the shelves at four different locations to ensure there are no territorial cat fights. Pic/Datta Kumbhar

Till about a year ago, Versova's Manik Moti was one of the many housing societies involved in a bitter battle with its resident feeders: the 15 felines on premises being the bone of contention. But, the years of hostility is now a thing of the past, thanks to a new initiative by the animal-loving residents of the building.

Eating out of a bowl
Film-maker Mirza Askari and a retired professor from Sydenham College, Abdul Sattar Basra, with the help of a few other residents, have installed cat stations in the compound. Located in four different locations, these are wall-mounted shelves that function as feeding spots, while doubling up as cosy corners for the cats to curl up. The handcrafted shelves made with scrap wood are equipped with bowls for food. They have also added water bowls as the animals often end up drinking contaminated water from the sewage.

Talking about the initiative, professor Basra says, "When we'd feed them on a piece of paper or on a cardboard utensil, there were chances of it either overturning or getting scattered. So, this seemed like a reasonable solution." Basra, who happens to be television and theatre actor Asif Basra's father, has been feeding strays for the last two decades. Currently, there are 12 to 15 cats in the compound, all of which have been neutered; the society has close to 130 flats.

Askari, who shuttles between Mumbai and Sweden, says the idea was initially met with a lot of resistance. "I was driven to find a solution because once I happened to see one of the members drop off one of the cats to the market. Luckily, we managed to trace her. There was no way we were going to stop feeding the cats," he says. After much back and forth, the idea was finally put to action last year. Askari and others spent Rs 7,000 on each cat station and accessories. In fact, he has even supplied some shelves to Cat Cafe Studio in Versova. According to him, the decision to place cat shelves in different locations was to eliminate territorial battles among cats. There have been times when the bowls have been stolen, but they have instructed the security guards to keep tabs.

Drop in complaints
Aziz Thavar, chairman of the society, says there has been a drop in complaints after installing the shelves. "Earlier, the cats would be all over the place. But now, because they have a designated spot, where they get food and water, there's much more discipline," he says. The initiative has also brought much-needed respite for the feeders. "Stray dogs and cats are dependent on us for food. It's how the food chain works. They don't hunt, and if we don't feed them, who will?" says Basra.

15
No. of cats that were being fed in theso societies.

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