What’s it like to import and then export two Maine Coon cats into and out of Mumbai, India? Also what is it like for a Maine Coon cat to live in Mumbai?
We can get a feel for these things in an article by James Crabtree in the online financial Times newspaper. He imported a couple of Maine Coon cats into Mumbai. He found this relatively easy. They needed pet passports, microchips and up-to-date vaccinations. All straightforward stuff made even easier because there is no quarantine for imported cats into India. This is no doubt because the authorities have decided that there is nothing to protect as there are no cat diseases that could be imported that are not already in the country.
The initial problem with importing Maine Coon’s into India is the climate. Maine Coon cats are medium long-haired with a lot of fur on their paws. This is a cat which is really designed for the climate of Maine in America not for the mould-inducing monsoons and stifling summers of Mumbai. It must be very sticky and tricky for a long-haired cat living in the Mumbai climate. However, no doubt Mr Crabtree kept his cats indoors all the time and I suspect that his apartment or house was air conditioned.
Mr Crabtree says that very few people in India actually keep cats in the style with which we are very familiar in the West, meaning “owned”. More common in India is what I call “community cats” which are cats looked after by a group of people, perhaps shopkeepers, in addition to the usual stray and feral cats. Someone might wish to correct me on that.
The problems mounted when Mr Crabtree wanted to export his cats to Singapore. No doubt there are quite strict import rules in Singapore but there also appears to be lots of Indian red tape, boxes to tick and procedures to go through on the Indian side and all of it, to Mr Crabtree, seems to be borderline unnecessary.
He felt it necessary to hire a fixer, somebody familiar with the deeply bureaucratic process which I sense was rather like walking through thick treacle. The fixer that he employed he described as a “feline export agent”.
The red tape culture comes from the time of the Raj. I think what he’s saying that when the British were in India they created a lot of bureaucratic processes which have remained and which bog down people who wish to actually do something no matter what it is.
“We have this state heritage where everything is forbidden unless it is expressly permitted, which dates right back to Raj… The big problem is India has never properly tried to fix this problem of bureaucratic cholesterol…” (The chief executive of recruitment at outsourcing group TeamLease).
The fixers who navigate through the byzantine mazes of bureaucratic red tape are prone to indulge in backhanders and corruption as a means to bump up their commission payments. Mr Crabtree says there was no way that he would have been able to acquire the correct paperwork on his own. He simply had to hire a fixer which he believes did not engage in any corrupt practices and who he found professional and pleasant.
P.S. Rudolph Furtado looks after two Persian cats in Mumbai. They are full-time indoor cats.