Bye-Bye Bagha (1996-2010) [en]

My beloved Bagha died last night of a heart attack.

Bagha @eclau 3

As all of you who know me can imagine, I’m devastated. Bagha has been my constant companion through the last 11 years — at home and at work, from India to Switzerland, and the cuddly purrball of my often lonely nights.

Bagha was an extraordinary cat with a lot of character and a quite incredible early life story. By some weird twist of fate, in less than two weeks I’m heading back to the precise place in India it all started a little over 14 years ago. My plan is to take Bagha’s ashes with me.

I knew I’d have to write this post one day, but I really thought I’d have more time to prepare for it. Bagha was FIV+ and had a heart condition, and he’d been showing clear signs of ageing and slowing down these last two or three years. But I thought he would continue slowing down, or develop complications due to his FIV status. I didn’t imagine it would be this brutal.

His last day was very normal: out for a stroll, back in for some food, a cuddle, and the beginning of his long day-time naps. He spent the afternoon on the bed while my friends and I baked Christmas cakes, coming over to help us clean egg-yolk mess from the floor (a rare treat for him).

We heard him crying out early evening and found him trying to hide under the bed, in pretty poor shape. Though we rushed him to the emergency vet, his heart was too damaged, his body temperature was dropping, and there was nothing to do but let him go.

Facing life without Bagha is a bit scary. I sometimes said we were like an old couple. We knew each other well, had our habits, and our lives integrated pretty seamlessly. I moved into this flat with him 10 years ago. He’s been the resident cat at eclau for the past two years.

I wonder how much time it will take for me to stop expecting him to show up or be in the garden when I come home. How long I’ll wake up in the morning surprised that he isn’t on the bed, or hasn’t woken me up to be let out.

I miss him terribly.

A lot of people knew Bagha. He was already famous in IUCAA (Pune) when we were living there. He quickly made a name for himself in his new Swiss neighbourhood. He’s had a good handfull of catsitters during the last 10 years, who came to live in my flat and care for him while I was travelling. He has fans online and offline, not least through eclau.

I can’t face telling everybody who knew him personally right now, so forgive me if you learned this sad news through this blog post.

Bagha was a great pet, and I know I treated him well, and he had a great life. There are worse ways to go, too. I’m thankful he was a part of my life for as long as it lasted. And I think that everybody who crossed paths with him, for a few minutes or much longer, was lucky for it.

Bye-Bye Bagha. You were loved. You’ll be missed.

Similar Posts:

The Neighbour's Cat Won [en]

[fr] Morsure de chat. Pas mon chat: chat du voisin que j'ai acculé (chez moi, pour le leur ramener) même après qu'il m'ait prévenu à grands coups de griffe qu'il était trop paniqué pour venir tranquillement. Moralité: les chats ont de longues dents pointues et ne se les lavent pas.

**Thanks to everybody for their sympathy and wishes of speedy recovery!**

The Neighbour's Cat Won

Not much typing. Cat bite. Details later. Nice cat. Not Bagha. Silly Steph.

Some details.

Friday Update:

Cat Bite Update

Infected. Another appointment tonight. I hope they don’t leave me in this huge splint too long. Can’t do anything!

**Friday night update:**

It Just Gets Better...

Left arm: infected cat bite. They have long sharp canines and don’t like being cornered in a strange place by a strange person. Splint that forbids any use of my hand — will stick around for at least another 2-3 days.

Right arm: catheter. I had 3 doses of antibiotic through IV over the last 24 hours, and am headed for at least that many over the week-end. There are only so many veins in the arm you can stick needles in.

Now, we hope the long canine didn’t go deep enough to infect the bone — or I’m looking at 4-6 weeks of treatment.

Fingers crossed, everybody, please.

**Video Update:** the story and more details.

How it happened:

The consequences:

**Sunday morning update: I can haz fingers!**

I Can Haz Fingerz!

Still got the catheter, though it hurts less now the tap is on the outside of my forearm.

Great improvement: fingers on my left hand! I can type somewhat! Things are taking a good turn. Thumb joint still very painful, so I’m a little worried it could be inflamed/infected — but gosh, does it feel good to have part of my hand back.

**Sunday evening news: good!**

**Monday update: shower!**

From now onwards, things are on the right track. I can remove my splint if I like, infection seems gone, but it’s still inflamed. So, I can type and do most of what one expects to do with two hands, just a bit slower and more painfully.

Similar Posts:

Chat perdu? Pas si sûr… [en]

[fr] Poor little lost cat? Not necessarily. Cats can travel upto 2-3km to hunt, and way more for a tom running after females. This cat, who wouldn't quit following me around, is probably just on a (very) long walk, and runs the risk of being kept away from his home if made too comfortable.

A call to the local shelter gave me this information (about three people were ready to adopt him on the spot, so something needed to be done):

  • ignore him completely (no food, no water, no attention) so that he doesn't get comfy and heads back home because he's thirsty, hungry, or wants a cuddle
  • if he's still there after a few days, put notices up in the neighbourhood
  • if he's still there after a week or so, get the shelter to come and pick him up

The bottom line is that cats don't "get lost". They'll go back home, unless they're given a good reason (food, shelter, friendly humans) not to.

Chat perdu? Pas si sûr... (Vallombreuse, Prilly/Lausanne) 7

Me promenant à la Vallombreuse (près de la frontière entre les communes de Lausanne et Prilly), j’entends [un chat]( qui miaule devant le numéro 77. Je regarde, il ressemble à Bagha, il veut sûrement rentrer.

A mon arrivée, il court vers moi comme un petit chien. Trois caresses, un câlin, je lui ouvre la porte mais cela ne l’intéresse pas. Je lui souhaite une bonne journée et m’en vais, mais je viens visiblement d’être "adoptée" et il me suit partout.

Que faire? J’essaie de le semer, sans succès. Après enquête dans le voisinage, il s’avère que ce chat était là la nuit d’avant et que quelqu’un l’a nourri. Pas étonnant qu’il traîne encore dans le coin! C’est un joli jeune mâle très (trop?) affectueux, pas castré.

Coup de fil à la SPA pour demander quoi faire (on soupçonne qu’il est perdu, et devant la mobilisation générale de l’immeuble pour l’adopter…). Conseils avisés du monsieur de la SPA:

– il est sans doute en vadrouille plutôt que perdu — un chat ne se "perd" pas, mais fait facilement 2-3km pour chasser, voire plus si c’est un mâle qui court après des femelles (le chat en question est un jeune mâle pas castré, et — coïncidence — la dame qui l’avait nourri la veille a une femelle non stérilisée dans son appart du rez…)
– ne pas le nourrir, ni lui donner à boire, ni d’attention; en bref, l’ignorer — le but est de ne pas rendre l’endroit "sympathique" pour qu’il retourne chez lui; en lui fournissant un semblant de foyer, même sous forme d’un peu de nourriture et de câlins, il risque de s’attacher et de ne plus rentrer chez lui
– s’il est encore là dans quelques jours, mettre des affiches dans le quartier; au bout d’une semaine environ, appeler la SPA pour qu’ils viennent le chercher…

Certains chats sont plus affectueux que d’autres, s’attachent plus vite que d’autres. Celui-ci… c’est un rapide (il n’a pas fallu grand-chose pour qu’il me suive à travers le quartier).

Sur internet, il y a bien le site [](, mais mis à part une [gestion catastrophique des langues]( “C’est un peu mon rayon…”) le site semble vraiment peu pratique. Difficile de faire des recherches fine, présentation des informations trop synthétique (une page listant les détails de toutes les fiches résultant d’une requête, ce serait pas du luxe), confusion entre animaux perdus et animaux trouvés… Bref, pas terrible.

Dans le Canton de Vaud, les animaux perdus/trouvés sont à annoncer au [registre des animaux trouvés (SVPA, Refuge Sainte-Catherine]( Un animal perdu peut être annoncé sans frais au 021/784 8000; pour un animal trouvé, il faut remplir le formulaire d’annonce se trouvant [sur le site](

Chat perdu, donc? [Pas si sûr.](

Chat perdu? Pas si sûr... (Vallombreuse, Prilly/Lausanne) 2

Surtout, surtout — si vous avez un chat, [faites-le munir d’une puce électronique]( afin qu’il puisse être identifié.

Similar Posts:

Kitty Pic Caption Contest [en]

[fr] Photos de chats cherchent légendes.

It’s no secret for anybody that I have a thing for cats, and from what one can see on the internet, I’m not alone. [Twitter loves cats](, for example. My friend Sarah and I nearly laughed till we cried looking through [The Cat Page]( last night. Oh, and don’t forget [Dunecat](, [Pursecat]( or [Bedcat](

Anyway, I took a couple of pictures of Bagha yesterday which clearly deserve captions.



Inspired? Post your captions in the comments, and let’s have a laugh.

PS: a couple of [these]( (like the [DVD one]( probably deserve captions too… take your pick!

Similar Posts:

Travel Adrenalin Rush [en]

[fr] Projets de voyage: 28 mai - 5 juin, Copenhague pour la conférence reboot. Puis un ou deux mois à San Francisco (encore à déterminer) dès le 18 juin. Décision pas facile, parce que je dois me décider vite (sinon je perds l'option) et que ce sont des billets non remboursables et non modifiables.

On the way back home from judo by this bright sunny springy afternoon, I decided it was high time to hop in at the travel agent’s my brother had recommended and give a little bit of substance to my travel intentions.

Well, oh my! I wasn’t quite expecting as much substance. I’ve got a pre-reservation for [San Francisco]( (June 18th to August 19th — two months!) and one for Copenhagen (May 28th to June 5th), for [reboot]( (is reboot happening this year?) Both are quite cheap, but the downside is that I have to give confirmation very soon (3 days for SF, one for Copenhagen) and that there is no flexibility in the dates (I can’t decide to fly back a few days later), and if I cancel I still have to pay the full price of the ticket.

I’m thinking now that maybe two months in San Francisco is a bit of a plunge. There are two issues:

– money (most of my paid work is done face-to-face — speaking engagements, consulting, training — so I can’t really “do stuff through the internet” for my clients here while I’m away)
– the cat (he’s 10 now, I’m very attached to him, and a bit torn between leaving him here and being afraid something will happen to him when I’m gone — I have a good cat-sitter *and* a good cattery, so there are options open, or taking him with me and having him not be able to go outside in SF, depending on where I’m staying)

So, maybe one month would be more reasonable. Specially as I’ve been told summer could be quite cold (50F=10C?! can anybody confirm that?) in the city, whereas it’s beautiful in Lausanne during July and August. And maybe come back in autumn? Heck. I need to go to Montreal and India too.

Now, just in case I *do* decide to come over to SF for a month, starting June 18th… Are there any events taking place mid-July that I should know of? As I said, once I fix the return date, it’s set in stone — and I would hate to be biting my fingers off because I’m leaving *just that one day early* and I could have known…

Similar Posts:

Cours de psychologie féline — euh, humaine [fr]

[en] Most efficient way for dealing with humans who complain that your cat is excerting revenge on them by peeing on doors: don't try to explain that cats don't have human feelings or attitudes. Instead, tell your cat sternly off in presence of the complaining person (just talk normally but firmly, of course, no being nasty), and say something like "Now, Puss, have you heard that? You can't go on peeing on doors like that. I want you to behave, understood?" And tell the person that you're going to have a serious discussion with the guilty feline about the situation.

Un truc infaillible pour régler le sort des personnes bien intentionnées qui se plaignent de problèmes avec votre chat en l’anthropomorphisant à outrance (concierge, voisine du dessus, etc.) Exemple: votre chat se venge des gens qu’il n’aime pas en allant marquer sur les portes des appartements quand il les voit. Tenter d’expliquer que ce genre de comportement ne correspond pas à la psychologie féline se solde en général par un échec cuisant et du temps perdu (conversation tournant désespérément en rond).


Ramasser le chat, qui durant la conversation est venu voir de quoi il s’agissait. Regarder ensuite sévèrement le coupable qui ronronne dans vos bras et lui dire: “Bon, Bagha, tu entends ce qu’elle dit, hein? Ça ne va pas du tout. Faut vraiment que tu apprennes à te comporter correctement, c’est compris? A partir de maintenant, plus de marquage sur les portes que la concierge vient de nettoyer, d’accord? Sinon, je vais me fâcher!”

Et préciser à la personne qui se plaint que vous allez avoir une discussion sérieuse avec votre chat et que vous comptez bien lui faire entendre raison.

A problèmes humains, solutions humaines.

Similar Posts:

Films, TMS, et blabla nocturne [fr]

[en] A couple of film recommendations, update on my RSI and some considerations on chronic pain, as well as various random other things (like cats in boxes).

Je trouve mes blablas un peu plus décousus que mes billets. Des tas de petites choses à dire plutôt qu’une grande. J’ai rajouté un “générique” (haha), parlé de deux-trois choses (les liens ci-dessous vous donneront une idée) et pas mal de TMS et de douleur chronique (avec quelques nouvelles d’où j’en suis). Allez, assez de parenthèses, [plongez dans le vif du sujet]( [16min41] — oui je sais, c’est un peu long.

Liens pour aujourd’hui:

– [Volver](
– [Water](, [Earth](, [Fire]( et [Cracking India](
– [l’Avenir](
– [Beercasting and Podcasting Thoughts](
– [Bagha dans sa boîte]( et [autres chats mis en boîte](… (trouvé en passant par hasard: [la fiche IMDB qui a donné son nom à mon chat](
– [43 Folders](
– [ma page sur les TMS (mon histoire)](
– [Odeo](

J’ai oublié un lien? Dites-le-moi!

Similar Posts:

Missing Kitty [en]

My cat has been missing for a day, which is highly unusual. I’m letting off a bit of pressure by writing it down (and also, I am getting slightly bored of repeating the story on IRC). Oh, and don’t feed other people’s cats. Thank you.

[fr] Mon chat Bagha a disparu depuis hier après-midi. Je suis inquiète, je tourne en rond chez moi, donc j'écris. Cela m'évitera également d'avoir à  répéter tous les détails cent fois sur IRC. Ah oui, le message du jour, c'est: ne nourrissez pas les chats de autres. Merci. (Edit: il est rentré sain et sauf!)

Update 13.08 13:30: The cat just came home, safe and sound. I’m so relieved!

18:00: Bagha came back through the downstairs neighbour’s window, as usual. He messaged me, I ran there, picked up the cat and squeezed him (OK, not too hard, I know my cat basics). He ate a little, meowed, cuddled, and very soon wanted to go back out. Sign, in my opinion, of a cat who has been locked up rather than one who has been roaming around for two nights in a row. I feel like somebody has turned on the light after two days of fumbling around blindly in the dark.

The Story

Bagha has been missing now for over 24 hours.

He’s an outdoor cat. I let him out in the morning. He comes in and out as he wishes during the day. I bring him in for the night. He sleeps in the crook of my arm.

It usually takes me about 3 minutes to find him in the evening. If he’s not waiting for me in front of the building when I come home, I take my usual little trip around the neighbourhood and here he comes, running or trotting out of one of his favorite “places”.

Very rarely, I don’t find him straight away. I go out a couple of hours later, or he comes in on his own.

Even more rarely, I go to sleep without having found him. Let’s say that happened maybe ten times in the four years we’ve lived here. I then leave the door open with the chain (like during the day) so that he can slip into the flat. He takes advantage of other people going in and out to get into the

building. I wake up in the morning to find him curled up on my feet — or at the very worst, I find him waiting downstairs outside the door.

Not this morning.

I couldn’t find him last night. I’d been away all afternoon and part of the evening (nothing unusual). Between 8pm and 1am, I must have spent approximately 4 hours touring the extended neighbourhood, calling for him.

I checked the roads, of course. I always check the roads. I’m terrified one day I’ll find his dead body on the sidewalk. I know this fear comes from inside me much more than from the actual danger: it’s a slow road, Bagha has a healthy fear of vehicles, and he’s a pretty calm, laid-back cat who won’t be caught suddenly dashing into the middle of the road because something startled him.

Still, I check the roads.

This morning, I started touring the neighbourhood again. Further than the places I know he goes to.

Conclusion: he’s not outside, or I would have found him. (Well, he would have found me, that’s usually how it goes.)

So I toured again, calling outside garage doors, pausing and listening. He’s got a loud voice. I’ve heard him calling from the cellar or the flat on the fourth floor where he was locked in once. He knows how to make himself heard.

This, I tell you again, is the cat who usually comes running to me once he’s seen me.

He’s microchipped. This means that if somebody takes him to the vet or the shelter, he’ll be identified as mine and I’ll be contacted. If he gets killed by a car, he’ll be identified by the team who deal with animal remains, and I’ll be contacted. I checked all this with people involved. No, they hadn’t found my cat.

I spent the afternoon printing out leaflets to stick on the entrance doors of the neighbourhood buildings (I had already put one in mine before I left for lunch). Now there are 30 leaflets with contact details, photograph and description of the cat, as well as my suspicion that he is either injured or locked in somewhere, plastered all over the neighbourhood. As you are bound to ask, he’s neutered, so he’s not after some hot female kitty.

One phone call, from a man who said he’s just seen my cat. I went to see, knowing there could be a confusion — there are about 4-5 cats around here with similar markings to mine. I don’t think it was mine; first of all because it was outside, and I tell you, if Bagha was somewhere outside I would have found him; second because I went there, and called, and called again, and no cat appeared. But who knows. Maybe something really strange is going on here. I didn’t see the cat this man had spotted, so I can’t say for certain.

Now I’m back home, vaguely waiting for the phone to ring or the cat to walk in, trying to find something to do with myself. I feel like hell. I don’t know how I made it through the day. I miss my cat horribly, and I’m so worried that something bad might have happened. The thought I might not see Bagha again is just too hard to bear.

Is this the price to pay for love and attachment? Now I know why a part of me gave up on love so long ago. It hurts way too much. Yes, hard times and sad times are a part of life just like all the rest. But they shouldn’t have to be quite as horrible as moments like this one.

So while I’m at it, let’s be a little constructive. Do you ever feed “stray” cats? Think twice. Cats are always interested in food, specially if you give them nice juicy tuna when all they get at home is vet-recommended dry food. (By the way, don’t give too much fish to cats — it contains thiaminase, an enzyme which destroys the amino acid thyamin, which cats are incapable of synthesizing.) The “hungry stray” might very well be just a clever beggar from the next block. Bagha regularly gets fed all over the place, even though I spend my time asking people not to do so.

Feeding somebody else’s cat just lures it away from its home and owner, centre of territory and primary source of nourishment and cuddles. So please, don’t feed other people’s cat. For all you know, the cat may start making a daily trip across a busy road to come and sample the delicacies you have to offer.

Thinking of adopting the cat that wandered into your living-room one day and avidly lapped up the milk you gave it? Some very worried owner may well be looking for it. Make thorough enquiries in your neighbourhood before getting too involved with it (feeding, naming, buying a litter-tray). This may sound stupid, but while my upstairs neighbours were keeping Bagha during my first trip back to India, he was simultaneously being adopted by a nice couple living just the other side of the road. He still came back here to sleep, but he spent his days there, complete with name and tinned food.

So, to sum it up: cats are independant animals and like to look masterless. It doesn’t mean all of them are stray. Oh, and please don’t feed other people’s cats.

Now I feel a bit better. I’ll tour the garages and cellars again once it’s nice and silent during the night. Of course, I’ll let you know as soon as the kitty turns up again. Thanks for listening.

Similar Posts:

Back Home [en]

Back home in Switzerland. Got the cat back, but not the cellphone.

Switzerland is grey and dark and cold. No colours, no sun.

I’ve got my cat back (with a bit of extra weight, just like his mistress who now feels a little tight in her trousers), my brave little car started at the turn of the key, only one of my plants has died (it was already on the way down before I left), but my cellphone has been blocked.

I feel a bit dazed. The change has been brutal. I feel disconnected, as if my presence here wasn’t completely real — or worse, as if India was just some kind of weird dream, a sensation I sometimes have when I am over there. Something else I need to sort out at some point, I guess.

I’m not too sure what I’m going to do now. There are lot of things to unpack, an extra CD/DVD-rack to buy (!), a few things to type up, and lots of photos and videos to upload and organize. The flat still needs work, too.

I think I’ll take a Lush bath.

Similar Posts:

Bye-Bye India… Already [en]

Leaving India.

I’m back in Bombay, my stomach is healed, and I have a little more than twenty-four hours left in India. My cellphone number in India is now dead (“You need at least 20Rs credit for roaming, Madam, so you need to recharge. Minimum recharge is 345Rs.”) and although I’d really love to hang around a bit longer, I’m missing my cat too much — so I decided to confirm my flight after all and go home.

You’ll see the rest of the photos, videos, and the backlog once I’m back in Switzerland.

It was lovely being here. I’ll be back. As soon as I can.

Similar Posts: