On August 19, we lost our lovely Basanti – a stray cat who had made us her family once she realised we could be her steady source of food and scritches. After eight years of companionship, Basanti died after getting into a fight with rowdy stray dogs. A month before, she had given birth to what would be her final litter. She had left behind three tiny kittens – all girls! – who were confused and terrified by the sudden absence of their mother. Overcome with our loss and a deep, abiding love for our feline friend, we and our neighbours decided to adopt her three kittens between ourselves.

The kitten we took was a splitting image of Basanti. We decided to name her Minnie. After all, she was “mini” Basanti. But that evening, my niece came over to see the new addition and promptly named her Mickey. Today, at five months, Minnie has more names than any of us can bother to remember.

Basanti would visit us as and when she pleased. Minnie is our first full-time pet. The initial days were a bit of a challenge – we were figuring out her food preferences, she was too young to be litter trained, and early separation from her mother and siblings meant Minnie craved more human companionship than an average cat. Once she came into her own and started getting curious about the world outside, at the age of three months she gave us a royal scare by running away – not once but twice.

Before Minnie, we did not know how utterly wonderful having a full-time pet could be. She teaches us to cherish our one wonderful life by encouraging us to be like her – relishing each meal, spending long hours in the mellow winter sun, and greeting each day with curiosity and a thirst for adventure. Even in her absence, Basanti remains with us and we are eternally grateful to her for the gift of Minnie.

Minnie's first day with us at age one month and ten days.