“Momma’s” mysterious, miraculous homing instinct

by | Jun 14, 2020 | 0 comments

By Adarsh Madhavan

When we were forced to move from our old but spacious residence of several years to another smaller lot, I was worried. Not for my immediate family of two, but for my adopted ones of six. One, shy introverted, anxiety-ridden sweety doggyboy and five ‘wild’ slightly mad stray cats and kittens (these five, I only feed).

Moving them from their old dwelling to a new one itself could produce several lines, but I don’t wish to digress. Among the five, one was a gentleman male, and the fiesty female was mother to three kittens (one of which had a bad back which severely restricted its movement).

Our shifting got delayed due to various circumstances, including monetary issues, but the problem was before we could move the female, which was carrying quite a heavy tummy, it delivered somewhere in the garden, or nearby areas. We could never find her litter.

Moreover, the pressures of shifting, added to several other issues that cropped up at the same time prevented us from finding where she was hiding her litter. Our shifting got delayed several times but one day we had to shift immediately and we did. We shifted all the furry ones too, with of course lot of scratches, screaming, and hissing in the background.

Momma was also taken but we could not find her little kittens, so we placed enough food and milk around and left thinking we will come the following day to get them. New home, new surroundings, new neighbourhood and maybe not enough space in our new dwelling…whatever the reason, the same night itself, Momma went missing. She was missing the whole of next day and following a hunch, I went back to the old house in the night and there she was! The distance between the old and the new house may not be much: maybe just a 15 to 20 minutes walk. That is for us, two-legged beings.

But, for a four-legged little furry creature, the journey, not the distance, would have been a nightmare. There are cars constantly hurtling to and fro and despite being a fully residential area; some of the car drivers think they are on a race track and they drive like their vehicles’ backsides were on fire.

We will come to that later. Even when we tell the way number, house number and give them succinct details, many who want to visit our house reach elsewhere. Now, we cannot provide road signs and directional clues on the public road to make it easy for our visitors to reach our home. Yet, Momma – who had no clue about her own whereabouts, no way to communicate to any other person and on treacherous roads filled with near-wild and uncontrolled vehicles and in its own perspective, strange, unfriendly two-legged creatures who would probably shoo her away – somehow found her way back to her old dwelling.

Plus, at a certain point on the way, whichever way it took, she would have had to cross the road. There was also a traffic lights’ point, which when it would go green would see vehicles, big and small, vrooming on, unmindless of a poor mama on its own secret mission. I am sure she did not stand on the side of the road and flagged a car down or hitch hiked her way back to her old home. I don’t know if she used a magic carpet to zip back there but somehow she did it. How Momma did it is a mystery.

Yes, there are stories of cats with unerring homing instincts. Tales of cats that travelled huge distances when they either got lost or were shifted from an old location to a new one.

The distance covered in this case is not much, but the sheer dangers that Momma would have endured in its night journey back to its old home, perhaps because some of its kittens were still there, or some reason of its own, is mind numbing. I visit the old place every day to give her some food and just the other day when I was thinking that it was time to take her back to the new home, I noticed Momma’s slightly protruding belly…

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