Cat breeder Muhammed Anaz’s big break happened in 2011 when his pet Persian cat Mittu landed a role in the Malayalam romantic comedy Teja Bhai and Family starring Prithviraj and Akhila.
Thereafter, Anaz, the only cat breeder in Kerala, started supplying cats, birds, dogs and other animals for Malayalam films. His latest project Pattam Pole, in which superstar Mammooty’s son, Dulquer Salman, plays the lead is slated for an October release. “I provided a miniature pinscher called Jill,” says Anaz, talking about the romantic comedy. “Jill plays the role of the heroine’s (newcomer Malavika Mohanan) pet,” explains Anaz.
Anaz has been an animal lover since childhood. Anaz was just three-and-a-half years old when his father, a doctor, died in a road accident. After his father’s death, the family went to live with his grandmother in North Paravaur, 33 km away from Kochi.
“My grandmother had 30 pet cats,” he reminiscences. “Growing up around them, I developed a deep love for animals from a very young age.”
Not surprisingly, when he grew up, he began to keep cats and dogs, apart from lovebirds, at his own house. These included miniature Pinschers, toy dogs and Pomeranians, apart from Siamese, Persian, Himalayan, Balinese and the British Short Hair cats. And Anaz is a walking encyclopaedia on the subject of cats and dogs.
“Cats only care for food and comfort,” he says. “They don’t care for the people who own them. And they will stay put in one place, if they are happy.”
A dog, on the other hand, says Anaz is more emotional and needy. “Hence, men are happier with dogs rather than cats,” Anaz explains. “Those who raise dogs want love in return, while those who bring up cats should not expect love in return. That is why women have cats as pets, because they are used to giving love.”
Whatever his theory on the loyalty quotient of the two species may be, Anaz gives all his pets, especially his cats, his complete love and attention.
He keeps his cats healthy and well-fed by ensuring a good diet. He buys fresh sardines from the fishermen off the island of Vypeen near Kochi. After filleting the fish, he cooks it along with rice, white onions and turmeric powder.
“It becomes like a biryani,” he says. This he says is a trick to make the cat eat the rice with the fish. “Normally cat owners place the fish inside the rice. But the cat only eats the fish and avoids the rice. This way, the animal will have to eat the fish as well as the rice,” he chuckles. To ensure that his cats get sufficient iron, Anaz also feeds them the liver of hens twice a month.
Anaz had bought Mittu from a lady who had imported it. He received two Siamese cats as a gift and then Mittu littered twice. At present, Anaz has 72 cats in toto. (40 Persian cats and the rest Siamese and Balinese breeds.) Anaz too bagged a few roles in ads and films through his animals.
His cats and dogs are stationed in the backyard of his Kochi home. As he enters, they all start barking with joy. “That is because I am accompanied by a stranger,” he explains. “When I shout and say it is okay, they will be quiet,” he says.
And that is exactly what happens. In the pin-drop
silence that follows Anaz’s reassurance, Anaz smiles and confesses, “I love animals more than people. I find happiness and peace in their company.”