Rajani Subramanian has donated to charity, adopted rescued animals and inspired people to take pets with them while relocating — all this by the ripe old age of 10. The Chennai-born U.S. -based kid insisted on a ‘no gifts' policy on her birthday last year and asked friends and family to contribute to a cat welfare programme instead. The funds were given to Chennai-based animal rescuer Minal Agarwal who used it to fund spay-neuter surgeries for homeless cats.

While visiting Minal's shelter, Rajani noticed a staggering grey kitten that she recalls as being ‘small and sickly'. Wobbly was in luck that day, as Rajani and her mother Ramya decided to foster her temporarily till her immunity increased and later couldn't bring themselves to give her back. Wobbly joined their other rescued cat Tipu Sultan on a flight from Chennai to New York when they returned to the U.S. “When they came out on the special cargo belt in JFK airport, they were complaining loudly but have settled quickly in their new homes,” says Ramya who is an animal welfare enthusiast herself, having adopted many shelter animals in the past.

Rajani reveals that her pets' quirks bring her great joy. “I always come down the stairs to the kitchen to eat breakfast, and see Tipu Sultan on his perch, meowing tunes like a musical cat. He's calm and slow-moving, and tells us to just enjoy life. Wobbly has a lopsided walk and is clumsy, but will play with the tiniest speck in the house. When I lined up a tennis ball, a fake mouse and a stuffed animal, she turned around and started playing with a scrap of paper.” The 10-year-old signs off with some good advice for all of us — “Take your cat with you wherever you go, even if it is to the North Pole. Your pet is your child!”

(To adopt Minal Agarwal's rescued kittens, call 98412 36008)