Exclusive! Alia Bhatt introduces you the love of her life, Edward the cat
I didn’t follow Alia Bhatt’s Instagram account before her kitten, Edward (also fondly called Eddie), came into her life. That was when I realised that she, like me, is cat crazy and unapologetic about it. One mention of her pet and Alia can go on and on about all the amazing vibes a furry friend can bring into one’s life.
We all see 24-year-old Alia Bhatt as the millennial superstar, the talented and glamorous performer, but when she is with Eddie, she is just another obsessed catmom, coming home to a naughty feline that’s blissfully unaware of his mom’s stardom.
The big sister act
The Bhatt family, as you may have observed if you have ever stalked their Instagram accounts, is super pet-friendly. But it was actually big sister Shaheen who started the kitty revolution in the house. “Shaheen used to rescue stray cats from our building and around, and bring them home. We used to give them up for adoption. Sometimes, we kept them because we got so attached to them. So, I always had these little pets around me as a child,” Alia says.
Loving pets is about the kind of environment you’re being brought up in, so as Shaheen introduced her to the world of furry playmates, Alia went on to make her fondest childhood memories from this experience. “When I was really small, my mom’s room had a big window, from where you could see kittens and cats playing downstairs. I used to sit on the windowsill for hours at a stretch, and throw cheese for these cats. That’s my favourite memory from my childhood,” she recalls.
But when Alia went down to play with these cats, they’d run away. “I was like, ‘I just threw cheese for you! How can you not play with me’!” she giggles.
“My parents weren’t always okay with the cat-crowded home”
Initially, mom Soni Razdan put her foot down and said a firm no when the girls walked in with yet another rescued kitten. “Can you blame her? Shaheen and I would rescue kittens every week! My mom didn’t know where to keep them. But I think initially, all parents play this ‘no’ role, but eventually warm up to it.
“From that ‘no’, cut to when I was moving out and wanted to take my cat Pica with me. Mom refused. She said ‘No, you most definitely can’t take Pica away from me.’ So you see, parents come around, because pets are eventually the most important part of the family,” Alia says, and I nod vigorously!
She stresses that once parents adapt to the idea of having a pet, and how compassionate their kids will be if they are around these little things, it will be easier for so many animals to find homes. “Even through my ecologocial initiative, Coexist, this is what I’m trying to push for. My ideology for the campaign stems from the environment I was brought up in, and my best friend recently adopted a dog too. Eventually it starts at home,” she says.
“I used to push my first kitten around in my pram”
With the number of cats that this Bhatt girl has had, it’s a miracle that she remembers more than two names! But her first pet and fondest memories were with Shaheen’s birthday present pet, Smoky. “I was really small and I was a little confused as to what this thing is. I used to drink tea with him, from my toy tea set, I used to push him around in my pram. Smoky was Shaheen’s soul cat, but I used to treat him like a little friend, like my younger brother. Oh, Pica is Smoky’s son!” she says.
“I’m not embarrassed about being obsessed with Edward”
Eddie rules Alia’s Instagram as he rules her heart. You’ll find a cute picture of him resting on her bed with a caption like “My therapist has fur and four legs”, and one with the famous flower Snapchat filter. He’s her social media show-off, and Alia doesn’t care if it comes across as borderline obsessive. (Seems legit.)
“I love to show him off. I’m super personal with my social media accounts, especially Instagram, so I love showing people how cute he is. I mean, look how cute! My friends say I’m a little crazy as at times I actually just sit and keep looking at him. But that’s because I love him so much. He’s my baby, and what’s wrong with being obsessed with your own baby?”
Nothing feels better than coming home to your pet waiting for you, Alia says. “He’s running around me when I get home, and given my busy schedule, the most precious time I spend with him is when I am going to bed at night and he props himself up, head resting on the pillow like a human being, next to me. It’s going to be heartbreaking when I go on my outdoor shoot as I won’t get to see him,” she says.
“Your pet takes after your energy”
Edward is a naughty and energetic cat. Alia’s friends say he’s more like a dog than a cat. “Your pet becomes a reflection of who you are, whether it’s a cat or a dog. Edward is playful and energetic because I’m like that. I’m not an introvert, so he isn’t either. They pick up your vibe,” she says.
The “cat and single lady” myth
We’ve all heard that stereotypical ‘Oh she has two cats, she must be single’ notion, but Alia wonders where that came from. “Is it because girls who have cats are like cats themselves, like kind of moody, and that’s why they’re single?” she giggles, then shrugs and says, “I don’t think this idea has any logic to it, it’s just a myth.”
And what about the common perception that ‘dogs have masters, cats have slaves’? Alia has a long, hearty laugh at this line, gives it a thought, and then sheepishly says: “But that is a little true, don’t you feel? I think I’m at my cat’s beck and call day and night; he’s literally the boss of the house. Also, I had named one of my cats Sheeba because she really behaved like the Queen of Sheba!”
When Alia apologised on Eddie’s behalf
She has so many anecdotes to share about Edward’s shenanigans when she has people over that we have to choose the ones to discuss at length. Mr Cat is a part of all of Alia’s meetings, and fittings, and he makes all her guests feel welcome by jumping on their laptops while they work and trying to play with their fingers.
“When my friends come over, they literally sit and talk to him. One by one, someone is calling out to me because he’s jumping on the table where there’s food and I have to tell him ‘Edward don’t do that!’”
She adds: “In fact once, I was sitting across someone at my table discussing something, and he jumped on the table. Suddenly I heard a slurping sound, and it was Edward drinking out of that person’s glass. I was so embarrassed, I apologised for my cat!”
“I would love to have a dog some day!”
Just like cats and dogs can be friends (Yes, they really can), cat lovers can love dogs too. Alia has a tough schedule, she keeps travelling for work and that’s why she hasn’t gotten a dog yet. “Puppies require a lot more care and affection, and right now I don’t have the kind of time I should dedicate to a dog. But yes, it is something I would love. Actually, I wish I could have a dog and a cat some day,” she smiles.
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From HT Brunch, August 20, 2017
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