Kashmir saw an increase in pet adoption and sale last year, during the lockdowns, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Apparently, the demand for cats was higher.
The process of adopting or buying a cat starts with the name suggestions for a new ‘family member’.
Several cat owners told The Kashmir Walla that when they had to choose a name for their kitten, they looked for a poetic and Kashmiri name. “Before we went to get our kitten, we struggled to find a suitable name for it,” said a cat owner.
TKW here introduces you to at least five cats of several breeds and intends to take you on the journey of juggling with the pet names.
Breed: Mixed breed of Siberian and local stray
Age: 2 months
Days before her adoption, Jhelum was sometimes Laila, sometimes Gul and for some days, it was Posh till Mehak Bakhsh actually brought the kitten home. “She has those beautiful big eyes,” said Bakhsh. “Really deep!”
“When I saw the kitten’s eyes, that was it,” she said. “She was Jhelum for me.”
The river Jhelum in Kashmir is surrounded by mountainous ranges that are mostly covered with white sheets of snow. It is known to be very deep. When anybody talks about this famed ‘vyeth’, the word depth pops up in one’s mind. Jhelum would always fascinate poets of Kashmir and is mentioned in poems and books for its depth.
When the Bakhsh family adopted Jhelum and brought her home in Bagh-e-Mehtab area of Srinagar district, she kept finding ways to hide — either under a blanket, a bed, or behind the red curtains of their room.
A day later, Jhelum started flowing like a river. “She was moving from one room to another,” Bakhsh told TKW. “I even saw her hanging on a curtain. She is like a human child.”
Breed: Local stray
Age: six months
While everyone argued that Python was the name of a snake, as an owner Muzafar Qadir’s thought was different. It was to remember his goal.
“I wanted to learn it,” said Qadir, referring to a coding language called Python. “He will be a reminder to me and I will learn it now.”
Python is a high-level programming language created by Guido van Rossum during 1985- 1990. Qadir is a technology lover and he said that he wanted the same vibe in his kitten’s name, hence his new “family member’s” name was kept Python.
For many of the owners, to choose a name was to give identification to their cats unlike Qadir, who adopted Python four months ago and intended to keep it as a reminder.
“I had planned to learn Python for a long time,” he said. “…but didn’t so far.”
Breed: Mixed breed of local stray and Korat
Age: Six years
Zoona was Abdul Mukeet’s first cat. She was born in his house on 5 August 2014 from a stray cat who he would feed every day outside his house.
Zoona’s mother had become comfortable with Mukeet, so she went inside and gave birth in his house. Out of the three siblings, Zoona was the only one who stayed back.
“I chose Zoona as a name for her,” he said. “… as I wanted a local and Kashmiri name for a local and normal cat.”
Zoon is a Kashmir word for the moon and was the real name of the valley’s famous poetess Habba Khatoon, the sixteenth-century poetess and queen.
Mukeet’s Zoona is a mixed breed of domestic shorthair and Korat cat. The ‘a’ at the end of Zoona “is to give a Kashmiri touch to his cat’s name. “She’s part local,” he said.
Age: Two years
It was 10 December 2019 when Mukeet adopted his second cat, who belonged to a Persian breed.
“Since Persians are royal I wanted a royal name,” he said. “So I named her Zulfiqar.”
Zulfiqar was a sword of Prophet Mohammad which he gave to Ali ibn Abi Talib — who was the son-in-law of the prophet — during an Islamic battle.
For days, Zulfiqar was a male for Mukeet but later, the kitten turned out to be a female so the male name got trimmed to Zulfi. “This name too was suitable,” he said, “…because her long hair is akin to zulfein [which is an Urdu word for tresses].”
Both the times Mukeet chose the name for his cats, he said that his parents gave him the responsibility to name his own pets. “Anyways, the names have significance,” he said.
He said his cats respond to their respective names as and when called. His parents too refer to them by their names “even though they were not involved in the naming process”.
“Naming humanised them and they are both ‘her’ and not ‘it’,” said Mukeet. “…elevated from objects to animals, who have feelings and emotions.”