Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright

Myriad factors make India exotic, one of them being that it houses the tiger, a fierce and majestic animal. The tiger has for centuries kindled the interest of people. Tiger tales are replete in the country’s mythology and Indian folklore.


Pictured are tiger paw prints left in the mud. Shot taken from the Indian film, Roar: Tigers of the Sunderbans.

Mythology In India

The Atharva Veda (the Hindi religious text of magical formulas), the Hindu epics–the Ramayan and the Mahabharat–and Buddhist tales bestow occult powers on tigers. Tigers were believed to have the power to bring rain, battle dragons, safeguard kids from nightmares and have healing prowess. Winged tigers have been shown as flying into the Milky Way, carrying princesses on their backs, on a mission to save the world. In Islam it’s believed that tigers protect the faith’s followers and mete out punishment to traitors.

The Warli tribe of India worships the Vaghdeva, the tiger god. They think of the tiger as a symbol of life and regeneration. They offer a fraction of their harvest annually to the tiger. They also consider the animal as a harbinger of fertility. When Warli couples visit the temple of the goddess of marriage, Palaghata, they adorn themselves in colorful red and yellow shawls. The tribal Indian folklore states, if the goddess is not pleased, the shawl will turn into a tiger and devour the couple. If the goddess is pleased the couple will be blessed with a bonny baby. Warli paintings depict a tiger as a part and parcel of daily life, both relaxing in and prowling through the villages. The Baigas of Central India, consider themselves as descendants of the tiger.

In the state of Nagaland, tigers and man are said to be born of the same mother spirit, hence brothers. Both have been believed to emerge from a common passage which happened to be the pangolin’s den. Tiger dances, in which young kids participate, are an intrinsic part of the tradition of the Udipi town in Karnataka. In North Bengal, both Muslims and Hindus worship the Bengal tiger. Paintings depict a Muslim priest atop a tiger fighting evil. The Hindu goddesses Bonbibi (The bride of the forest) and Dakshin Rai safeguard the forest dwellers from crocodiles, demons and last but not the least the tiger’s wrath. Rice, sweets, and fruits are offered to Bonbibi and Dakshin Rai is pacified with music so that they keep the fury of the striped feline at bay.

Shiva, the consort of goddess Durga, wears the skin of the tiger, which is symbolically indicative of the fact that he’s beyond the peripheries of the natural world. As per the myth, Lord Shiva was wandering through the forest naked. The wives of the forest dwelling sages were awed by his stark naked beauty. The sages felt insecure that they’d lose their wives. They captured a fierce tiger in a pit and thought that it would slay Shiva. He slew the animal and wrapped its skin around his body instead. The revered and fearsome animal is at times also shown in benign light. For instance, Indian folklore speaks of sages praying in sanctuaries surrounded by placid tigers.


Tiger fossils have been discovered in India aged 12,000 years, indicating when the tiger made its entry into the region. The Ice Age made north Asia inhabitable for tigers. That compelled them to seek greener pastures in southern territories. The tiger has been etched on the seals of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization (2900 BC-1900 BC). The tiger of the Bengal state of India has been the country’s national symbol since 2500 BC. The animal was also the royal symbol of the Chola dynasty from 300 A.D to 1279 A.D. Tipu Sultan, who ruled India in the late 18th century, nurtured great admiration for the Bengal tiger.

The tiger population depleted with indiscriminate hunting. In fact, tiger hunting was a popular royal pastime. In the early 16th century, Emperor Akbar initiated this kingly sport in India. His descendants continued with this practice till 1857 which marked the fall of the Mughal dynasty. Rajput, Mongol, Afghan and Turk nobles of India also went on a tiger hunting spree. They rode on troops of elephants and entered the dense jungle to drug, bait and kill the tiger. They triumphantly exhibited the severed head and hide of the animal in their royal palace. They backed the hunting of the animal with the excuse that the tiger was perennially lusting for human blood (which is factually wrong).

Bengal tigers continued to be mercilessly slaughtered in India during the latter phase of the British rule. Colonel Geoffrey Nightingale fired bullets into and thereby killed 300 Indian tigers. In the 1920’s, the second Umed Singh, the king of Kotah, hunted the animal at night with machine guns and cannons. The Rewa kings of Central India thought it was spiritually fortunate to kill 108 tigers for their crowning.

Historian Mahesh Rangarajan calculated the number of tigers slaughtered from 1875 to 1925 as exceeding 80,000. Not all of these thousands of tigers were hunted by royalty. Some were killed as they were thought to be a threat to man. The massacre of tigers continued in the early years of independent India. Royalty and non-royalty alike went on tiger hunting escapades. Maharaja of Surguja proudly proclaimed that by 1965, he had killed 1,150 tigers. The most powerful tigers were hunted to flaunt the hunter’s bravery. Consequently, the strongest felines were eliminated from the gene pool.


The white tiger is a pigmentation variant of the Bengal tiger, which is reported in the wild from time to time in the Indian states of Assam, West Bengal and Bihar in the Sunderbans region.


Rising stars in Hollywood draped themselves in tiger hides, flaunting them as the latest fashion. Tiger rugs and coats from India were sold worldwide at exorbitant prices. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, upon coming into power, came down strongly on tiger poachers. At the end of the 19th century, when Rudyard Kipling had written Jungle Book, there were 50,000 to 100,000 tigers. In 1971, just 1,800 of them remained. The Delhi High Court in India banned tiger hunting in 1971.

There were 4000 tigers at the time of Indira Gandhi’s death in 1984. After her demise, once again the tiger population started dwindling. Tigers were illegally hunted for their bones and to procure ‘Chinese medicine’. In 2010, 1,706 tigers were found in India.  2,226 was the head count of Indian tigers in 2014.

Under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 of India, killing a tiger elicits maximum three years of imprisonment and/or a fine of Rs 25,000 ($370 U.S dollars).  If a tiger is killed inside a tiger reserve, then it’s a mandatory jail term of three years which may be extended to seven years and a fine which ranges from Rs 25,000 ($740 U.S dollars) to Rs 2,00,000 ($2960 U.S dollars). If the animal has been killed in the core area of the tiger reserve, it’ll result in seven years of imprisonment and a fine ranging from Rs 5,00,000 ($7,399 U.S dollars) to Rs 50,00,000 ($73,990 U.S dollars). Despite this, tigers are still poached. Sometimes tigers are killed when they encroach on the villages in search of prey, because of deforestation. Boars are regularly tied to a stake in the forest fringes outside the villages, so that the tigers are always full stomached and therefore don’t have to hunt man, cattle, poultry, goats and sheep.

It’s not the natural tendency of a tiger to feast on human flesh. Very seldom do tigers become man-eaters. Wildlife conservationist, Valmik Thapar, suggests that experts should judiciously ascertain if a tiger is a man-eater or not. He feels that if a tiger is too dangerous to be rehabilitated into the wild, the animal should be put to sleep peacefully. rather than serve the remainder of his natural life behind the bars of a zoo. At times, furious mobs have lynched tigers which have killed men.

Often livestock graze in forested areas during which the tiger may capture and eat them. The reason for grazing in the forested area may be that the pasture lands of the villages may have been over-grazed. Human beings, in the search of honey and firewood, venture into the forest depths, and inadvertently walk right into the jaws of the tiger. Often these gatherers have no other source of employment. Tigers are excellent swimmers and can easily pounce on boats and flee with prey. The fishermen in tiger areas are at great risk of tiger related deaths.


A scene from the film, Roar, shows a white Bengal tiger pouncing onto a boat. Bengal tigers have incredible power and athleticism.

The government, in some areas, has made fences out of wooden poles and wired mesh; to keep away tigers from villages. An aversive technique to keep away tigers from villages is electrified human dummies which will produce a mild electric shock. The dangerous tigers receive a shock which is powerful enough to render them unconscious temporarily. The tigers are then captured in cages and freed in a dense area of the jungle. Financial compensation is given to families who have lost their family members and farm animals to the tiger. Efforts are being made so that the tiger and man can peacefully co-exist in India.

Habits and Lifestyle

A tiger is a carnivorous mammal, which lives between eight to ten years in the wild. On an average, it weighs between 240 to 500 lbs. The wild cat’s roar can be heard from three kilometers away.

The Indian tiger loves to feed on deer and wild boar. If it doesn’t find deer and boar; it may have no choice but to prey on birds, rodents and insects. The most common diet usually available to wild tigers in India is comprised of the chital or spotted deer, sambar deer species, sika deer, nilgai (antelope), buffalo, gaur (bison), civets, monkeys, porcupines, frogs, fishes, crabs, giant lizards and snakes. At times, they’ll also hunt baby elephants and rhinos. The feline’s favorite hunt time is on cloudy days or at sun set. They prefer hunting alone instead of in pairs or packs. They take advantage of their coats to camouflage in the flora of the forest and pounce upon their prey when they least expect it.  After the kill, they tear apart and eat the prey in a secluded spot. To facilitate digestion, tigers may eat the following: berries, grass and fruit.

During courtship time, male and female tigers attract one another with howls and whines. Males start roaring to which females respond. When they meet one another face to face, they purr and sniff one another. Post conception, the cubs grow in the tummy of the mother for 16 weeks.

still from film

A white Bengal tiger and her cub resting.

A litter of three cubs is generally born. Each cub weighs approximately two pounds. The cubs don’t leave the den for the first two months. The father tiger at times tries to kill the babies. If any human being takes away the cub, the mother tiger is likely to sniff the trail and rescue the cub after killing the human. Tiger cubs have a high morality rate. The cubs learn to hunt with their mum. Generally, there’s one dominant cub in each litter.

National pride

The following states in India have tiger reserves: Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Chattishgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Orissa, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarkhand, West Bengal and Karnataka. The Royal Bengal Tiger has been made the national animal of India because of its strength, grace, agility and power.


Photo of Bengal tiger seated next to a cast member for the movie Roar. Although CGI helped create various scenes of tigers in action, real trained tigers were still used on set for the film.

Indian Folklore: Tiger sayings

The Royal Bengal Tiger is often not mentioned by its generic name by the forest dwellers/villagers bordering forests in West Bengal. The prevailing superstition is that the forest goddess whose mythological vehicle is the tiger, will get peeved as she considers referring to the tiger by its real name disrespectful. The tiger has therefore been nicknamed: Raymoni, Babu (master), Alubepari (referring to the male tiger’s testicles which villagers think resemble potatoes), Bon Bibir Bahan (the vehicle of the forest goddess). It’s feared that if mentioned by its name, the tiger will attack.

Away from the forest, the tiger is mentioned by its name with ease and there are many sayings, idioms and proverbs around the animal. Some of them that prevail in the Bengali language are as follows:

·         “Bagher bachcha bagh”: A tiger’s baby is a tiger (literal meaning): The attributes of a praiseworthy person prove that’s he’s/she’s like his/her  laudable parent just like a tiger cub is also a tiger (figurative explanation).

·         “Jekhane bagher bhoy sekhane sondhe hoy”: Where you spot a tiger, evening sets in (literal meaning): There’s danger already which is being intensified just like darkness sets in when you see a tiger.

·         “Jole kumir, dangay bagh”: There are crocodiles in the water and tigers on the land (literal meaning): There’s trouble all around just like one being surrounded by crocodiles and tigers, in water and on land.

·         “Byaghro bikrome juddho kora”: To fight as ferociously as tigers (literal meaning): To fight till the last like ferocious tigers which never give up in a fight (figurative meaning)

·         “Bagh mama sheyal bhagne”: Uncle tiger and nephew fox (literal meaning): To indicate a close bond like a fox and tiger (the fox is said to trail the tiger for leftovers, hence the apparent idea of a close bond has developed) (figurative meaning).

·         “Bagher pechone pheuer moton”: Being close at the tiger’s heels in the hope of meal remnants (literal meaning): Referring to flatterers and  sycophants, who please powerful people for favors like carrion animals follow the tiger for scraps (figurative meaning).

Future of the Tiger 

The current ruling Bharatiya Janata Party government of India led by Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, is apparently toying with the idea of stripping the tiger of its national animal status and giving it to the lion instead. All animals are beautiful creations of God including the lion. Nevertheless, this replacement may work against the tiger, which is already a seriously endangered species in the country. Wildlife activists have expressed their disapproval regarding this. Let us hope, that the tiger continues to be the country’s national animal and efforts are made to save and multiply them.

Movie poster for the film, Roar: Tigers of the Sunderbans.

Movie poster for the film, Roar: Tigers of the Sunderbans.


All pictures in the article are taken from the Indian film, Roar: Tigers of the Sunderbans, directed by Kamal Sadanah. It was a fictional film on Indian tigers released in 2014. I have the permission of the director, who is happy to give us pictures from the official website of his film. If you’d like to check out the movie for yourself or learn more about the the film click the link, Roar, to see more.

Pallavi Bhattacharya

Pallavi Bhattacharya from Mumbai in India is the pet parent to a white rabbit named Potol. She feeds stray dogs and cats. She has written for leading Indian publications on animals/ pets like gingertail.in, Dogs and Pups, Cats and Kittens, the Furs, Feathers and Fins magazine and Buddy Life. 

Birds Of India

Incredible India has a wide array of feathered species. There are approximately 1314 species of birds in the country. Forty two of them are endemic to India. Here’s a brief overview of thirty out of the hundreds of Indian birds that exist:

peacock full

Peacock, photo courtesy of Sushmita Roy

Peacock: It was declared the national bird of India because of its grace and beauty and connotations related to Indian philosophy and spirituality. Indra, the Hindu god of rain and thunderstorms, is often portrayed as a peacock. It is also considered as the vehicle of Hindu god Muruga. It’s believed in India that when the male bird spreads its wings, rain is on the way. Wild peacocks live in forested regions near water bodies in India. The bird is also domesticated in villages.

magpie robin

Magpie Robin

Magpie Robin: This bird is found in India, right from the Himalayas in the north to Cape Comorin in the south. At one point of time, it was believed that at least a pair of magpie robins lived in every Indian garden of Agra and Oudh. The male bird is a white and black bird, unlike the larger English robin. It’s seen as flying above the ground at a height of 6000 feet, performing gymnastic feats in the air. It lays eggs either in the hole of a building or in the hole of a tree.

Indian Snake Bird: This fish eating bird has a dagger like beak and long neck. It throws the fish up in the air and swallows it. It’s an agile swimmer and powerful flier. Nicknamed the Indian darter, the bird is found both in salt and fresh water bodies; in creeks, tidal estuaries and lakes. Once, this bird was kept as a pet by Indians. The Buddeas, a band of gypsies who wandered all over East Bengal in boats loved keeping these birds as pets.


Scarlet Minivet

Minivets: This bird is as colorful as a rainbow: red, yellow, gray, blue, green, black and white. These tiny longed tailed birds are veritable nomads who don’t remain in one place, unless they are nesting. There are various species of minivets in India, with most of them dwelling in the Himalayan mountain range. The cup like nest of these birds, composed of grasses, twigs, moss and cobwebs is in itself a work of art.

Pied woodpeckers: Of the many species of woodpeckers that dwell in India, a few have pied plumes. Most of them live in the Himalayas. One species lives in Cochin and another in the Andamans. This black and white bird has a yellow forehead and short red crest. The lower plumes are white in color. Like other woodpeckers, this bird also searches for insects in tree trunks. Nuts, seeds, berries and fruit are also a part of its diet.


Pied Crested Cuckoo

Pied crested cuckoo: The upper part of the bird is black and the tail feathers are white. It’s also called the Rain Bird as with the onset of the monsoon, this bird can be seen. It has migratory instincts and graces India during the wet season.

Vulture: This bird of prey, though available all over India, is depleting in numbers; nine species of vulture exist in the country nowadays. They are most prominent in cremation grounds. A common sight is vultures feeding on the remnant of an unburned corpse which is afloat on the water of the River Ganges.

Peacock, tail spread.

Peacock, tail spread. Photo courtesy of Sushmita Roy

The Indian Robin: This bird is found in grassy and stony regions and scrub forests. They lurk in dry habitats and avoid areas of wet rainfall. These birds have queer nesting habits with nests made of grass, cotton and vegetable fibers. The nest is lined with human or horse hair, feathers and snake’s skin. It mainly feeds on insects but may catch a lizard or a frog when feeding the young.

The Shikra: This bird of prey is a slightly built bird as big as a pigeon. The upper plumes are gray, the wings and tail are black, the breast is white with brown spots in young birds. It was a favorite of falconers as it could be trained to procure food with great alacrity. However, as it has feeble claws it can’t tackle large quarry. The bird feeds mainly on lizards and also gulps down sparrows, small birds, mice and rats.

Grey Hornbill: This bird is found on the plains of India at an elevation of 2000 feet. It’s found in the southern Himalayan foothills and the Ganges delta in the east. It makes nests in the hollows of lofty trees between April and June. It tries to keep away from human beings, which is why it loves to inhabit forest tracks. It feeds on fruit, and is often seen on Banyan and Peepal trees. After plucking a berry, it tosses the fruit up into the air and then catches it with its beak.

Flamingo: The two types of flamingos which exist in India are the common and lesser flamingos. Flamingos can be seen in lakes and backwaters around Chennai. The Pallikarnai wetland in Chennai, Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary in Gujarat and Sewri in Mumbai are some of the places where these birds are found in India. In the Runn of Kutch, when there’s sufficient rain, flamingo nests can be seen. The bird is unfortunately decreasing in numbers in the country.

Paddy Bird: Also known as the pond heron, it looks for prey from small water bodies. It is often seen at the side of soaked paddy fields. It’s frequently seen standing on the water’s edge, all huddled up. It bears the ill reputation of being a lazy creature. The bird loves snacking on frogs and water insects. It is commonly seen in the country’s wetlands. It is often seen making use of the water hyacinths to dig deeper into the water to find prey.

Merlins: They are pygmy falcons which are found at both sea level and high mountains. They feed on reptiles, small birds, insects and bats. They tend to inhabit deserted nests of other birds. In earlier times, they were used for the purpose of falconry.

Green pigeons: In the wild, these birds love to inhabit fruit trees, preferably in forested areas. It happens to be the state bird of the Indian state of Maharashtra. These yellow footed green plumed birds live in flocks.


parrot photo courtesy of Sushmita Roy

Parrots: These birds are often kept as caged pets in India. Some pet owners even clip their wings and teach them human talk. The Kamasutra manual says that it’s necessary for a man to teach a parrot to talk. They are also considered birds of love in India and many a fable has been woven around them. The first written mention of the parrot was apparently in the ancient Rig Veda text of India.

Parakeets: These birds which have originated in India live from 25 to 30 years. The Ringneck variety can live up to 50 years. The Ringnecks feed on fruits, seeds, nuts, vegetables and berries. They are seen in miniscule cages in many Indian households, though it’s illegal to do so. They’ve been bred in captivity in India ever since 200 BC. They are popular as pets as they can mimic human voice.

Bulbul: There are various kinds of bulbuls in India. They come in various colors- yellow, red, orange etc. They munch on fruits, seeds, tiny insects, nectar, arthropods and small vertebrates. These birds are known to be monogamous.

Common Cuckoo: This solitary and shy bird is found in open woodlands and forested areas. In villages, the sweet song of the bird, rings through the trees, especially in spring. It also has the negative reputation of being a brood parasite. It lays a solo egg in the nest of a crow or a drongo and destroys an egg from the nest to lay its own. Thereby the lazy bird shirks the responsibility of child raising.

Wire tailed swallow: They are called wired tailed as they have fine long outer tail feathers which hang like wires. They are generally spotted in pairs near water bodies and human habitats. They feed on insects which are often caught while they are flying. They build bowl like nests close to water bodies.

Kingfisher: Out of ninety species of kingfishers in the world, a dozen are found in India. The Common Kingfisher or River Kingfisher is quite widespread in the country. The White Throated Kingfisher, also known as the Tree Kingfisher resides away from water bodies. The Pied Kingfisher is found in fresh waters. The Blue Eared Kingfisher is spotted in streams in deeply wooded areas. The Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher loves to live in shaded streams in moist forests with broad leaved trees. The Brown Winged Kingfisher is seen in mangroves, coasts, creeks and tidal rivers. The Stork Billed Kingfisher dwells in sluggish waterways and shaded lakes. The Ruddy Kingfisher lives in forested swampy mangrove areas. The Crested Kingfishers prefers swift mountainous rivers and river foothills.

Terns: Though predominantly sea birds; they are also found in marshlands, ponds and lakes. They also eye places which are fast drying up, as they can find their prey which comprises of fish more easily there.

Indian crow variety

Indian crow variety, photo courtesy of Sushmita Roy

Red Turtle Dove: This bird exists throughout India, more so in South India, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. It’s a summer visitor to the country. They like to reside in wooded tracts and tree plantations. They try to stay away from deserted regions.

Hoopoes: This bird can be seen in North India digging out insects from the soil from dawn to dusk. Their egg laying season is in early spring of the northern hemisphere. They build nests in the cavities of trees and buildings. Unlike some other bird species, they aren’t wary of humans.

Sarus Crane: Also the largest bird of India, this crane was once found nowhere outside the country. This happens to be the only crane species in India which stays in the country all year round. It exists along the Gangetic plains. It lurks about in shallow waters digging into the mud eating aquatic plants, insects (mainly grasshoppers) and fish (during captivity). It breeds predominantly during the monsoon in India.

This bird is venerated by Indian Hindus and there was a prohibition against eating its flesh in ancient Hindu scriptures. It was a close contender to the peafowl in the race to being the national bird of India. It’s been observed that if the bird’s mate is killed, its partner wails for days. The killing of the bird is believed to have inspired a deeply grieved sage Valmiki to pen the Hindu epic Ramayan.

Swallow Plover: These plover like birds with fork tails, skim over the surface of water and predominantly feed on insects. They lay eggs on sandy islets. An interesting feature of the eggs that they lay is that each egg looks very different.

Sunbirds: These birds are honey suckers who are found in the warmer parts of peninsular India and fly away from the colder parts of the country in winter. The male birds have lovely voices and sing as sweetly as canaries. Sometimes they feed on tiny insects. They build unique nests with cobwebs wound round branches from which the nest hangs. Their pear shaped nests are lined with cozy silk cotton.

myna bird

Myna bird, photo courtesy of Kurush Dastur

Myna: This bird has a black hooded head, brown body and yellow patches below the eyes. Mynas in north-west India are paler than the south Indian birds. They breed all over, right from sea level to a height of 3000 meters in the Himalayas. This bird uses and also usurps the nests of woodpeckers and parakeets, often by knocking out the chicks. They feed on arachnids, insects, reptiles, crustaceans, seeds, small mammals, grains, fruits etc. Seeing one myna is considered unlucky and seeing a pair is thought to be lucky in India.

Indian crow

Crow variety, photo courtesy of Veerendra Bhargava

Crow: It’s a very common bird in India. They are carrion birds which are believed to clean up the place. Crows’ nests are seen often on Indian trees. At marketplaces they are seen sifting through garbage for scraps of food. This bird also has an interesting place in Hindu mythological literature.

Sparrow: Sparrows, seen widely in India twenty years ago, now are an endangered species in the same country. The house sparrow has a merry, chirping call. Animal activists all over India are raising a hue and cry to save this bird. These tiny birds feed on cereal grains, livestock feed and insects.

Indian pigeon

Pigeon variety, photo courtesy of Veerendra Bhargava

Pigeon: Feeding pigeons is considered as a pious act in India. A common sight is people feeding numerous pigeons food grains in public places, especially early in the mornings. White pigeons with tails with gorgeous plumes were patronized by Indian royalty in yesteryear.

Pallavi Bhattacharya

Pallavi Bhattacharya from Mumbai in India is the pet parent to a white rabbit named Potol. She feeds stray dogs and cats. She has written for leading Indian publications on animals/ pets like gingertail.in, Dogs and Pups, Cats and Kittens, the Furs, Feathers and Fins magazine and Buddy Life. 

Why Religious Indian Hindus Don’t Eat Beef

One thing that Westerners find intriguing about India is that the country, by and large, regards cows as sacred. Many wonder what the reasons for Indian Hindus not eating beef are. The rationale as to why Indians of the Hindu fold find the cow as a lovable animal and cannot even think of making it into beef burgers has multifarious dimensions.

Movie poster in India pertaining to the countries first film on the slaughter of cows.

Indian poster for the movie Aahinsa, the country’s first film on the slaughter of cows. The director is Yousuf Ali Khan.

History of the Indian Hindu practice:

 Certain historians argue that ancient Indians ate beef. Archaeological excavation pertaining to the non-Aryan Harappan era in India, which dated back to 6000 BC, is believed to indicate that beef was consumed by the indigenous people. Some historians also aver that cattle were also consumed in the Vedic Age (1500 BC to 500 BC). The Rig Veda, book of hymns, composed during the early Vedic Era, however, suggests that substitutes to animal sacrifices were thought of. Often barley and rice were offered instead of slaughtering an animal.

As per certain historical theory, around 700 BC, cattle were allowed to be slaughtered for ritual purposes and hospitality. However, as cows were killed in large numbers, there was a serious shortage of milk. Hence, the religious rules were changed to venerate the cow, so that the milk supply continued to flow. As the economy evolved from a hunting-gathering one to an agrarian one, the cow began to be protected rather than killed. The Athravaveda; the ancient religious book of hymns, chants and spells, later went on to say that eating even a barren cow would bring ill luck to the souls of one’s ancestors.

Lord Krishna, who is considered as an incarnation of God by Hindus, lived and preached in India in the BC era and was born to a cow herder’s family. He displayed immense affection towards cows. He grew up with milk maids being his closest buddies. Traditionally, Krishna is shown playing a flute, with a cow in the background.

As per Hindu mythology, the holy cow Kamdhenu, enjoys the status of a goddess and is considered as the mother of all cows. It was believed that she gave her devotees whatever they desired.

Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism; religions which originated from Hinduism; also advocate the non-consumption of beef. The Buddha who preached non-violence to all living creatures was against animal sacrifice, especially that of the mother cow.

Film stars Kashvi Kanchan and Nafe Ali Khan, promotional photo for Aahinsa.

Film stars Kashvi Kanchan and Nafe Ali Khan, promotional photo for Aahinsa.

The reason which triggered the historic 1857 revolt against the British was that the Indian Hindu soldiers refused to bite off the cartridges, which were made of beef fat. It is feared that eating beef or killing a cow will condemn one to hell. Not all Indian Hindus, however, refrain from eating beef.

The cow possesses mother-like and gentle qualities:

The cow is considered to be a gentle and docile animal. It has the most serene eyes. Hindus, especially those who reside in villages, are accustomed to handling this sweet and calm bovine. The cow is regarded as a beloved household pet in these homes. Can anyone ever kill a pet for providing for food on the dinner table?

Nafe Ali Khan, promotional photo for Aahinsa.

Nafe Ali Khan, promotional photo for Aahinsa.

Those who keep milch cows and take them out daily to graze have noticed very maternal traits in the cows. For instance, while in the green fields, the mother cow affectionately lows to her calf, lovingly nourishes and fondles it. Of course all animals have maternal instincts but those who have cows as pets in India aver that the cow is one of the most motherly of all animals.

Mother Cow Is In Some Ways Better

In the Rig Veda, human longing, sacred devotion and maternal affection is diagrammatically represented by a cow with her calf. The cow that is abounding with milk is considered the embodiment of maternal energy. Mahatma Gandhi, renowned Indian freedom fighter, revered the cow greatly. He said, “Mother cow is in many ways better than the mother who gave us birth. Our mother gives us milk for a couple of years and then expects us to serve her when we grow up. Mother cow expects from us nothing but grass and grain. Our mother often falls ill and expects service from us. Mother cow rarely falls ill. Our mother when she dies means expenses of burial or cremation. Mother cow is as useful dead as when alive.”

The cow is seen as having maternal-qualities.

The cow is seen as having maternal qualities.

A variety of dairy products

India’s rich cuisine boasts of a wide array of dairy products. Ghee or clarified butter, considered a super food in India, is the ingredient of many dishes and is essential in many Indian Hindu ritual offerings to God. The Indian kitchen offers curdled, non-curdled, fermented and other dairy products.

Just a few of the many dairy products are paneer and channa (Indian cottage cheese), khoa (made from thickened or dried whole milk), kulfi (Indian ice cream), dahi (curd), shrikhand (strained yoghurt blended with sugar), kheer (a rice dish with milk and sugar), and many mouth watering sweetmeats.

Western dairy and confectionary items are also highly popular in India. Milk and dairy products contain calcium, Vitamin B 12 and magnesium. A huge chunk of the Indian population comprises of vegetarians. As they don’t have non-vegetarian options to choose from, the many dairy products offer them varieties of food, including Vitamin B 12, which is generally provided from meat.

Flyer for the movie Aahinsa.

Flyer for the movie Aahinsa.

Cow Excreta

Though the idea may appear to be repugnant, the truth is that cow’s urine and feces have crucial uses in India. Cow’s potty, known as cow dung, is rich in minerals and is consequently used as manure. Dung is made into biogas, which generates both heat and electricity. Cow dung, when burned, acts as a natural mosquito repellent. Dung mixed with water also helps to ward off many other harmful insects.

Not all of India is a warm country. There are chilly regions too and winters can get quite cold in some places. Cow dung pasted on the walls serves as a natural thermal heater. Dried cow dung is used as firewood, thereby saving many trees. It also serves as a component in mud brick houses.

Sprinkling cow urine is thought to be a spiritual cleanser in Hindu rituals. It’s also used as a floor cleanser. It acts as a natural pesticide, thereby serving as an essential component in organic farming. Cow’s urine, with neem and custard apple leaves, when boiled together, forms a bio-pesticide.

Cow’s urine has many medicinal properties as per Ayurveda, the Indian medicinal system. It is believed to have beneficial effects in treating fevers, cancer, leprosy, anemia, liver ailments and asthma.

As the cow is such a useful animal, it makes greater practical sense in India to keep the animal alive rather than roasting it. In fact, household wealth from time immemorial in India has been measured in the number of cows one has. Many a tragic tale has been woven around situations when one lost one’s cow while grazing or had to sell off the household cow when falling into abject poverty. So before ridiculing Indian Hindu culture for  abstaining from beef, one should read the logical reasons as to why people do so.

Pallavi Bhattacharya

Pallavi Bhattacharya from Mumbai in India is the pet parent to a white rabbit named Potol. She feeds stray dogs and cats. She has written for leading Indian publications on animals/ pets like gingertail.in, Dogs and Pups, Cats and Kittens, the Furs, Feathers and Fins magazine and Buddy Life.

Panchatantra: Animal Fables From India

Animal fables have evergreen popularity, all over the world. Follies, foibles and sins of human beings are explored through animal characters in these stories, so that readers don’t take these tales personally. India also has its plethora of endearing animal fables, the Panchatantra being one of these volumes.

The Panchatantra can be dated back to the second century B.C. In the sixth century A.D. it was translated to Persian. Later, the stories featured in Hebrew, Greek, Latin and various other European languages.

How did these stories come into being? Mahilaroopya, king of South India or of Pataliputra in Bihar had three sons who had little brains. He was at his wit’s end on as to how he’d infuse even a grain of wisdom in their bird brains. Pandit (learned scholar) Vishnu Sharma assured the king that he had thought of a unique way of teaching his sons, so that the naive lads acquired grey matter in a matter of six months. The king promised him 100 villages in return. The sweet and simple Panchatantra tales were easily grasped by the princes. The moral that came with each of the tales made them conversant in topics like human relationships, astronomy, psychology, philosophy, music and politics.

Some of the Panchatantra tales have very grotesque endings with animals being killed. Others are with happier endings. Animals native to India are obviously featured in the stories. Foolishness and gullibility are punished even with death in some of the stories. Common sense, wit and the ability to be composed are rewarded amply. Selfishness and betrayal are taken as grave offences.

All the stories of the Panchatantra make interesting reading. Here are the summaries of ten of them:

The Jackal and The Drum

1. The Jackal and the Drum:
A jackal was wandering in an erstwhile battle ground in search for food. The armies who had fought a battle had left a drum there. The wind played on the drum, thereby making it beat out loud. On hearing the drum beats, the jackal first thought that humans who were playing the drum would surely bring trouble to him. His immediate instinct was that he should flee the venue. On second thought, he felt that he should investigate the source of the noise carefully, before making any hasty decision. To his relief he found that the wind was causing drum beats. Better still, he found ample food and water near the drum.
Moral: Success is for the brave alone.

2. The Flea, the Bug and the King:
In a royal bed, lived a flea. She lived a parasitic life consistently sucking blue blood. When she stung the king, she was however gentle and nimble, so much so the king didn’t realize that he was being bitten. One fine day a plump bug crawled on to the bed. The flea knew well that the bug had a sharp sting. She correctly anticipated that its sting would be so painful, that the king would clearly understand that he was being bitten, unless of course the king was stung when he was fast asleep. The bug promised that he’d nip the king only after he fell asleep. However, he was too impatient to wait for the king to doze off. The king ordered his servants to search for the creature which had caused him pain. The cunning bug hid himself in a nook where he could not be found, whereas the flea was unable to find a safe haven and was consequently caught and killed.
Moral: You will suffer if you trust the false assurance of friends and strangers.


3. Killed by a Shadow
A proud and lazy lion lived in a jungle. He announced to all the animals in the forest that every day a different animal would have to come right up to his cave. The animal would serve as a source of food to him. He threatened that if even one day was skipped, he would devour all the animals of the forest. A hare thought of an ingenious plan to outwit the lion. He arrived at the lion’s dwelling albeit late. The lion question him in an infuriated manner as to why he had arrived late. The hare lied that he had been chased by another lion. The lion who wanted to be the monarch of the jungle alone, wanted to meet this lion to put him in his place. The hare concocted a story that the lion lived in a well. The lion looked into the well and mistook his reflection for another lion. He pounced into the well, thinking he was attacking the lion. He drowned to death in the process.
Moral: Physical prowess may be defeated by wisdom alone.

4. Man Alone Ungrateful
A man who was wandering by himself in the forest came across a pit in which a monkey, tiger, snake and man were trapped. The tiger and snake pleaded to the man to be pulled out from the cliff. They assured him that they wouldn’t kill him if rescued, and stuck to their promise. He helped the monkey to get out of the pit as well. He then helped out the man despite being warned that he was up to no good. Whereas the animals on being rescued vowed to help the man when he was in need, the man he rescued selfishly said that as he was a goldsmith, the man should remember him if he required any handicraft on gold.
When the hungry man could find nothing to eat in the jungle, he went to the monkey’s home who offered him plentiful sweet fruits and promised to give him more of them whenever he wanted to eat. The tiger gifted him an expensive necklace which belonged to a prince who had died in the forest. The man took it to the goldsmith, hoping that he’d help him to sell the necklace. The goldsmith instantly recognized the necklace as belonging to the prince. He had after all worked on the ornament. He went right up to the king and complained that the man who had killed his son had given this to him. The innocent man was consequently captured.
The snake thought of working together to save the man. The snake bit the queen in such a manner that only the man’s touch would neutralize the venom. Assured that the man actually had a good heart, he asked him as to how he had found the gold. As credibility had already been built up, the king believed his story. He put the goldsmith behind bars. He rewarded the man with 1000 villages and made him the privy counsellor.
Moral: Man despite being supposedly superior to animals may at times be more bestial than them.


5. The Foolish Turtle
A turtle and two swans were close buddies. Their home was a lake. When the lake began to dry, the swans decided to fly the turtle to a safe haven. They asked the turtle to grip a stick firmly with his teeth as they flew him to a lake brimming with water. They cautioned him not to open his mouth during the flight. As the swans flew over a town with the turtle, the town folks pointed upwards and animatedly discussed the bewildering sight they saw. The turtle open his mouth to ask what the commotion down below was all about. He fell down. The town people roasted him for supper.
Moral: Heed the wise counsel of good friends.

6. The Story of Three Fishes
Fishermen chanced upon a pond which was teeming with fishes. They discussed amongst themselves that they would come the next day to the pond to lower their nets. Three fishes overheard them speaking. Two of the fishes took this very seriously. They decided to escape to a safer pond with their families immediately. The third fish took this very casually. He decided to stay on in the pond as he refused to believe that the fishermen really meant what they said. The fishes in the lake were divided into groups. One group fled to safety through an outlet which led to a secure lake. The other fishes lingered on in the hazardous pond. The next day the fishermen caught each and every fish that remained in the lake.
Moral: When you sense danger, act instantly.

7. The King of Mice and the Elephants
Mice inhabited a deserted village. A herd of elephants would frequent the village to bathe and drink water. Unfortunately, many of the mice were trampled to death by the footfalls of the elephants. The king of mice entreated the elephants to change their route so that the lives of the mice were spared. The mouse king promised the elephants that the mice would surely return this favor if the elephants complied. Though the elephants could hardly believe that creatures as tiny could help them, they changed their tracks. Later the elephants were trapped in nets laid by an elephant hunter. They struggled to free themselves. The mice cut the nets into shreds by their razor sharp teeth, thereby freeing the elephants.
Moral: Don’t underestimate anyone on the basis of appearance.


8. The Crocodile and the Monkey
A monkey would inhabit a tree where he would devour the delicious berries which grew on its branches. A crocodile came out of the water to rest under the tree. The monkey treated the crocodile as his guest and graciously offered him fruits. The two animals formed a rapport. The crocodile came regularly to eat the tasty fruits. He took some of the fruits for his spouse. The crocodile’s wife felt that if indeed the fruits the monkey would eat were so sweet, his heart would be extremely saccharine to taste. She suggested that her husband killed the monkey and they devoured his heart.
The crocodile lied to the monkey that his wife had invited him to dinner. He carried him on his back through the river. While in the middle of the river from where the monkey couldn’t physically escape, the crocodile told him his true intentions. The monkey composedly lied that he had kept his heart in the trunk of the tree he lived in. On returning to the river bank, the monkey hopped on to a spot away from the reach of the slimy crocodile and told him that they ceased to be friends.
Moral: Avail of wit to get out of tricky situations.

9. The Mongoose and the Woman
A mongoose and a human woman gave birth on the same day. The mongoose died in child birth leaving a baby. The woman adopted the infant mongoose. She nurtured him as her own son. She fed both the mongoose and her own child breast milk. She bathed both of them and massaged them with oil. The mongoose and her baby boy grew as close as siblings.
The woman was however sceptical that as the mongoose would grow older, animal instincts would overpower him and maybe he would harm the child. She left her baby boy in the care of her husband, while she went to fetch water. Her careless husband however left the house before she returned. The lady knew that her husband was absent minded, so she was returning to her home tensed. She was shocked to see the mongoose outside the house with blood smeared on his face. She panicked thinking that the mongoose had killed the child. She threw the pitcher on the poor animal thereby killing it.
When she went to the child’s room, she found him safe and sound. Beside his crib lay a snake in pieces. The mongoose had killed the snake which had attacked her baby. The blood on his face was of that of the dead snake. The mongoose had saved the life of the baby whom he regarded as his dear brother. The woman and her husband deeply mourned the death of the mongoose, as they had regarded him as their son.
Moral: Don’t act in haste.

Mouse and Sage

10. The Mouse’s Wedding

A mouse slipped the grasp of a hawk and fell in the proximity of a wise sage. The sage with his magical powers transformed the mouse into a little girl, for he knew that if she remained a mouse the hawk would try to snack on it again. He taught the girl wise teachings and when she came of age, he decided to find the best ever groom for her. He first asked the sun god to marry her. The girl however thought that the sun was too fiery tempered. Her father asked her if she’d marry the rain god instead, but she could simply associate him with darkness and dampness. Her father then suggested the wind god. She however regarded him as finicky as the wind always changed its direction. When the sage then put forward the idea that she married the mountain god, she dismissed it saying that mountains were too resolute as they were rooted to one place. The sage smiled and asked her if she would marry a mouse, his daughter found the idea brilliant. Her father then turned her into a mouse, she wedded a mouse and lived happily ever after.
Moral: What you are born with won’t change.

All pictures in this article courtesy of www.kidsgen.com.

Pallavi Bhattacharya

Pallavi Bhattacharya from Mumbai in India is the pet parent to a white rabbit named Potol. She feeds stray dogs and cats. She has written for leading Indian publications on animals/ pets like gingertail.in, Dogs and Pups, Cats and Kittens, the Furs, Feathers and Fins magazine and Buddy Life.

Hindu Gods/Goddesses and Their Amazing Animal Vehicles


–photo courtesy of Srabanti Chakrabarti

The Hindu faith, the cradle of which is India, is a religion which dotes upon the birds and animals. In fact, the religion has bestowed the fur, feathers and fins species the status of divinity by linking their multifarious gods and goddesses to various animals. All the numerous Hindu gods and goddesses are considered the manifestations of one supreme creator, the Almighty God. The gods and goddesses in Hindu mythology travel in supersonic speed on animals and birds. Different gods have different vahanas (animal vehicles). The literal meaning of the word ‘vahana’ is ‘that which carries, that which pulls’. Mesopotamian gods and goddesses were all associated with vahanas. According to some historians, the concept reached Indian shores in the second millennium BC via the trade route between the two ancient civilizations.

Surya – Horses
The sun god, Surya, mounts on a golden chariot, pulled by seven white horses. Seven is a sacred number in Hindu mythology. The seven horses are representative of the seven major sins and how the Sun God triumphs over them. They also symbolize the seven chakras (spiritual vortexes in the human body).

Agni – Ram
Agni, or the fire god, rides upon a ram. Sacrifices are offered to Agni and to many other gods through him. Interestingly, the ram is a sacrificial animal, which has been linked to the Hindu fire god, to whom sacrifices are offered.

Brahma- Swan
Brahma, the god of creation, travels all over outer space on a swan, chanting the sacred Hindu scripture the Vedas. The elegant swan is symbolic of intelligence. As per Hindu tradition, it’s a bird which can figuratively sift the pure from the impure, like it sieves milk from water. Sometimes, Brahma is shown riding seven swans.

Durga family with vahanas

Durga family with vahanas–photo courtesy of Arindam Mukherjee.

Durga – Lion
Ishtar, the Mesopotamian goddess of war is seen with a lion. Similarly, Durga, the mother of the universe and the warrior goddess, pierces a spear into the buffalo demon’s heart, while riding a lion. The lion, as we all know, has been nicknamed the King of the Jungle. In Hinduism it’s also considered the supreme of all animals. Also, let’s keep in mind that the goddess rides a tame lion. The lion may also represent gluttony and the craving for sensory pleasures which gives birth to lust. The goddess riding a lion may also symbolize that she has tamed the instincts of greed, lust and gluttony to rise to a spiritual height.

Ganesha with mouse

Ganesha, the huge elephant headed god, who is worshipped for wealth and prosperity, mounts on a mouse. This rodent was actually a god named Kroncha in his previous life. He had accidentally stepped on the toes of Saint Vamadeva, who was also worshipped as a god. Stepping on a spiritual being, is considered blasphemous in Hinduism. Kroncha desperately begged apology. Vamadeva’s wrath simmered down. Undoing a curse is mythically impossible, but he toned it down by saying that he would become Ganesha’s vehicle.
As per mythologists, the mouse is symbolic of basal desires. Being dark in colour, it is also averse of light or truth. Some feel that the mouse is representative of the egoistic mind, as it can metaphorically gnaw on the virtues of man. Ganesha, by mounting the mouse, thereby symbolically conquers impure desires, spiritual darkness and pride.

Indra, the god of rain and thunderstorms, rides a white elephant called Airavata. This winged elephant was hatched from a cosmic egg. Of the 16 elephants that were born from this egg, Airavata was by far the strongest. This mythical creature sucks water with her trunk and sprinkles it on earth thereby creating rain. He had fathered winged white elephants as well. One day they accidentally interrupted a class conducted by a sage when he was teaching. He put a curse on them which clipped their wings. The white elephants of today are said to be Airavata’s descendents. Airavata besides being Indra’s vahana is believed to, along with his siblings, hold up the eastern hemisphere of the globe.

Kartikeya –-Peacock
Kartikeya, the god of war is seen in pictures as perched on a magnificent peacock. The prevailing myth is that the peacock doesn’t copulate with the peahen. Therefore it is regarded as a chaste bird. As the old wives’ tale goes the peacock is contented with its magnificent plumes but is deeply embarrassed by its unattractive legs. While it joyfully dances under a cloudy sky, when it glances at its legs, it is moved to tears. The peahen sips the tears and conceives. So, the message to all warriors is that they should forgo all sexual desires, if they wish to emerge victorious in war. The scientific truth however is that peacocks do have sexual intercourse.

Lakshmi, the goddess of fortune, wealth and prosperity mounts the wise old white owl. Besides wisdom, the bird also symbolizes patience and intelligence. Its white plumes denote spiritual purity. It is also bestowed with the mythical powers of fortune telling. Simultaneously, this owl also serves the practical purposes of a barn owl. In the state of Bengal in India, the annual festival dedicated to the worship of Goddess Lakshmi, is celebrated in late autumn. This is when the farmers have just reaped a rich harvest and have stocked their granaries with food grains. The owl cleanses the granaries of all pests, thereby protecting the grain. The more grain the farmer sells, the wealthier he/ she will become.

Saraswati duck

Saraswati duck–photo courtesy of Arindam Mukherjee.

Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, wisdom, learning, music and arts is seen with a swan. As she is after all Brahma’s consort, it’s not surprising that she has chosen the same bird as the vahana.

Shani with crow

Hindus pray to Lord Shani to ward off influences of evil forces. Just like mischievous magpies have ill repute in the occidental part of the globe because of their thieving tendencies; in India crows too are linked with stealing. By mounting the crow, Shani is said to suppress pilfering habits in people. He is also the god who metes out punishment to those who have abided by evil ways.

Goddess Shashthi, the goddess of fertility, is worshipped by the childless who wish to conceive. As the old tale goes, the daughter-in-law of a farmer, consumed great quantities of fish and milk from the kitchen on the sly. When confronted, she falsely put the blame on a black cat. The innocent animal was beaten repeatedly. The feline complained to Shashthi and decided to teach the liar woman a lesson. The cat stole six of her new born baby boys. Her seventh child was a daughter and when the cat tried to take her away, she injured it and followed her to discover that all her children were with Mother Shashthi. The goddess insisted that she apologize to the cat. The woman touched the cat’s paws as a sign of devotion and promised never to put false blame on it. All her kids were returned and her sisters-in-law were blessed with bonny babies.

Shitala is prayed to with the hope that she’ll ward off chicken pox, measles and sores. She is believed to ride the streets of villages on a donkey with a broom, sweeping paths free of germs.

Shiva with Nandi

Shiva, the destroyer, rides a bull named Nandi. The bull being a strong animal symbolizes virility. Nandi is Shiva’s ardent devotee. He is said to have lived with the god in the heavenly snowy abode of Kailash.

Vishnu, the Preserver/Protector mounts an eagle-like creature called Garuda. To save his mother, Garuda flew to the heavens and slayed two snakes to fetch a pot of nectar. Since that day, Garuda developed acrimony with snakes and started feeding on them. The eagle, as we all know, preys on snakes too. Garuda is seen as clutching two snakes and with serpents garlanded around him.

Yama–Male Buffalo
Yama, the lord of death, rides a black buffalo. This celestial beast is said to be strong enough to ferry two armoured gods. Yama is also the god of righteousness, his tough water buffalo is said to be symbolic of upholding justice. Yama, perched on the buffalo roams around the world, searching for souls which are about to exit the earthly abode.

The tiger, which is the national animal of India, is the vehicle of god Ayyappa, who happens to be Shiva’s son, conceived of the enchantress Mohini. The baby Ayyappa was forsaken on the river banks and was found by a childless king. Later, the queen had a biological child. She faked an illness which would only be cured by tiger’s milk. She summoned Ayyappa to fetch the milk. The wicked woman secretly hoped that the tiger would kill him. He returned victoriously on a female tiger along with her cubs, carrying a pot full of milk. The royal couple realized that he was god. The queen pleaded for forgiveness.


–photo courtesy of Srabanti Chakrabarti

Countless Vahanas
These were just a handful of tales of Indian gods and goddesses with their beloved animals. Vayu (the wind god) rides on a horse. Varuna (the water god) rides the waves on a crocodile. The river goddess Yamuna drifts on a tortoise. Bhairava, a manifestation of Shiva, has chosen a dog as his vehicle. The list is almost endless.

There are more than 330 million gods and goddesses in Hinduism. The tales of them with their respective vahanas have filled voluminous books, which are stored in various quaint libraries across the country. Some of these manuscripts are still in the ancient Indian language Sanskrit, which are yet to be translated to English and other contemporary Indian languages.


–photo courtesy of Srabanti Chakrabarti

The Future Vahana
There’s yet another god whom Hindus are looking forward to. He is to make his entry into the world along with his vahana in future. Currently, Kaliyug, or “age of vice”, is ongoing as per the Hindu mythological calendar. It’s believed that Kalki, an incarnation of Vishnu, will come galloping on a white horse, to usher in Satya Yuga, “the age of truth and virtues”.

Pallavi Bhattacharya

Pallavi Bhattacharya from Mumbai in India is the pet parent to a white rabbit named Potol. She feeds stray dogs and cats. She has written for leading Indian publications on animals/ pets like gingertail.in, Dogs and Pups, Cats and Kittens, the Furs, Feathers and Fins magazine and Buddy Life.