It’s time to bring home hedgehogs, snakes and Siamese cats, says Muhammed Anaz, a supplier of animals

Shoo away that staid pet- the old sock dog, cat, gold fish and the odd parakeet. It’s time for fancy pets for city folks. Muhammed Anaz, a cat breeder and supplier of animals to the South Indian film industry says that more and more people in the city are keeping rare and gorgeous pets like the iguana and hedgehogs!

Anaz attributes this trend to a changed lifestyle. He recalls the times of the ‘Gulf’ boom when Kochiites were inspired to build big houses. This, he says, was followed by the fad of possessing luxury cars. But now status is measured by acquiring a fancy pet! Exposure to varied lifestyles, the cosmopolitan nature of Kochi and the changing skyline are some of the reasons for this trend. “The old bungalows and homes have given way to high rises and animal lovers cannot keep big dogs or cats in apartments. Hence small pets, the toy breed variety, have become popular,” says Anaz, who gave up an executive post in a telecom company to follow his heart. “I made my hobby my profession,” he says happy that the bold switch gave him success in a year’s time.

Cat breeder

Though he started with dogs he soon found that he was among the 5,000 odd dog breeders in Kerala. “But there was not a single authorised cat breeder. I could do that,” he says. His cat breeding began when he bought a Persian cat from a lady who had imported it. Mittu, with a black tip on her head, turned out to be his lucky charm. Mittu landed a role in Teja Bhai And Family. Prithviraj loved the cat and insisted on having her in the film. That was it for Anaz who since then has been providing cats, birds and other animals for Malayalam films.

Mittu littered twice and thus began Anaz’s cat breeding. A foreigner in Fort Kochi gifted him with two Siamese cats. “He enquired about a cat breeder and somebody referred him to me,” says Anaz who has 40 Persian cats and the rest are Siamese and Balinese breeds. He has a total of 72 cats. “There is no association for cats in India. USA has a cat club and cat lovers in Bangalore are in the process of forming a club,” says Anaz who landed with a few small roles in ads and films through his cats and dogs. Anaz hosts a show, Me and My Pet on TV. He worked in a Bollywood film starring Vidya Balan who loved his long tailed macaws!

Anaz specialises in toy breeds of dogs. His favourite is the Daschund, his pet- Bebo. The demand in the city is for miniature Pinscher, the world’s smallest dog, Lhasa Apso, Pug and the Pomeranian. “These breeds are convenient to keep in apartments. As the city is growing skywards it is easier to market them,” he says.

Birds are his other love, but sadly birds and cats don’t get along, he says. His grandfather’s herd of goats and cows in North Paravur too is taken care of by him. His wife Ayesha supports his passion for animals.

Anaz’s latest acquisitions are hedgehogs, which he says make great pets. “I want to get exclusive pets now as there is a demand for them. The latest craze is for iguanas, snakes and hedgehogs. The iguana requires just a dry aquarium with some small rocks and pebbles. They look beautiful,” he says.

Anaz believes that keeping the iguana will help children rid of the fear of reptiles. “It is a good way to come close to the peaceful side of the wild. Besides, keeping a pet is therapeutic. Spending half an hour daily with one’s pet will de-stress a person and add ten years to one’s life,” he says with authority of one who has made pet passion his way of life. Anaz can be contacted at 9995544100