Niladri Bose is famous for his success as a radio jockey, newspaper columnist and voiceover artist, but there’s also a lesser-known side to him — one that believes in being compassionate to animals and standing up for their rights. “Animals don’t play politics,” he says, of one of the reasons he’s fond of them. He urges people to speak up when they see pets being beaten or when they see homeless animals being treated cruelly. “Be humane and remember that when you help, it all comes back to you. It’s karma,” he says, observing that some animals are unfairly targeted due to superstitious beliefs about them. “I don’t care if a black cat crosses my path. They are God’s creations and cannot bring bad luck.” He finds that the unwritten code amongst most residents’ associations prohibiting pets is a sad one, and finds that it ends up victimising pets, referring to how pets are often abandoned by their owners as a result of these rules. “People should stand up to this,” he says. “Or tomorrow there might be rules against having elderly people at home.”

His wife Shivali rescued a starving, orphaned kitten a year ago, and he recalls it was his first experience with a cat. Though he was a ‘dog person’ to begin with, the kitten won him over in no time and was named ‘Mao’ because it was the only sound he responded to. Niladri marvels at the charm and majestic movements of cats, and was amused that the timid kitten soon grew into a boisterous adult cat that occasionally lords it over their pet dog Puchka.

Meanwhile, Shivali is glad to report that the duo never fails to delight her with their intelligence and comical behaviour. She refers to how Mao picks out a special toy and hides it under the cupboard for later use and how he chooses to sleep under a blanket at night. “I’m thankful to him for so many things,” says Shivali of her rescue. “He’s opened up my knowledge about pets and connected me with so many animal-lovers.” As for their apartment, it’s now clearly a pet-friendly zone with litter trays, catnip toys and the like. And today, when it’s time for a family photo, the camera doesn’t click until the furry ones are in the frame. Shivali sums up the place they occupy in their lives- “They rule the house and also rule our thoughts.”