Tiny cat explores big, new world. Our first photo of Tigger. Early 1993.
Soon after we got our first cat, Cupid, we began to feel guilty. It was heartbreaking to leave for work in the morning and know that she’d be alone all day, and it did not help that she always came to the apartment window to watch us go. It was time, we felt, that Cupid had a playmate.
When we went to the local humane society, we noticed a cute, tortoise-shell kitty hanging near the back of the cage. She seemed so tiny and timid, and we were afraid that she would be constantly overlooked in comparison to her more gregarious cellmates. And so we decided to bring her home with us.
Face to face.
Despite her looking nothing like her namesake, we dubbed our new family member Tigger. Partially, this was because we considered her “bouncy,” and partially it was because we were woefully uninspired when choosing cat names back then.
To our dismay, Cupid did not like Tigger AT ALL. She’d walk up to the new kitten and bop her on the noggin with a paw. These early encounters set the two on a path of mild antagonism over the years, though it was later Tigger being the bully.
Tig’s first Christmas.
One day, Tiggy began to exhibit some bizarre behavior. She sat at the window, making a chattering sound with her mouth strangely unhinged. Vic was convinced she was having a seizure, but it turned out to be some manner of hunting instinct brought on by the presence of the birds outside.
Tig’s eating habits were equally odd. It seemed that no food was beyond consideration, and she soon developed a fondness for broccoli. She frequently begged for treats, and also enjoyed the ice chips which fell from the freezer compartment, batting them around the tiled kitchen floor.
Kitten in the sink.
Once we moved to our first house, we discovered that Tig was fiercely territorial. If another cat came near the place, she’d throw herself against the window screens in a rage. It was pretty disconcerting in the middle of the night.
Somehow, she managed to curb this when our third cat, Hobbes, entered our lives a couple of years later. The three had a complicated relationship: Hobbes dominated Tigger, Tigger dominated Cupid, yet Cupid took no shit from Hobbes.
Hobbes finds Tiggy to be a comfy pillow.
Tig was not an especially friendly cat. If she did come to sit on your lap, it was a fairly momentous occasion. She did, however, have the loudest purr we’ve ever heard, and all it took was a stroke or two to rev up her motor. Even in the middle of the night, it was easy to identify when Tig walked into a room.
While we’ve always made frequent use of nicknames when referring to our cats, Tigger accumulated the largest collection, including Tig, Tiggy, Wigger, Wig, Wigs, Wiggy, Wigster and The Purrmeister.
Tiggy wears a wiggy.
Sadly, Tigger had more than her share of health problems. She developed some mysterious lumps which ultimately turned out to be allergy based.
More frightening was the evening back in December 2003 when Vic called to tell me that Tig was having serious issues, breathing heavily and in obvious distress. We rushed her to the emergency vet and found that she had cardiomyopathy.
We were sad to be told that she probably only had six months to live. Even though she’d never been the friendliest cat–we’d gotten Hobbes in part because Tig WAS so standoffish–we realized in that moment how much she meant to us.
“I has a box for sitn.”
Yet Tig surprised everyone by beating the odds, ultimately living more than four years beyond that initial, grim estimate. She had to take more daily pills than the two of us combined, but she proved to be a strong kitty. And she was pretty good about the twice-daily pilling sessions, even if she did occasionally try to hide out atop the kitchen cabinets.
“They’ll never see me up here.”
Unlike the situation when Cupid died last year, we had plenty of warning that things were turning for the worse. We tried everything reasonable that we could to keep her with us, but it became clear this weekend that she was fading fast.
We’d hoped to wait until this morning to have our vet make a home visit, but Tig couldn’t wait that long. And unfortunately, she began to die even as the emergency vets were trying to insert the catheter. Our final moments with her were hasty and traumatic. It wasn’t at all what we’d wanted.
And yet, we have to look at it this way: unlike Cupid, she spent her last days at home with us. And while it’ll never be enough time, we did at least have plenty of opportunity to sit with her while she was alert, and to let her know how much we loved her.
The last picture we took. March, 2008.
Tigger was a part of our family for more than 15 years, nearly five years more than we thought we’d have together. She never quite escaped being the shy kitty at the back of the cage, but we never stopped caring for her.