Three words that I’ll never speak again.
Monday morning we put Tigger to sleep. He was 17 years old, 93 in human years, according to the vet. His kidneys were failing, a good chance that his thyroid had issues, and he had lost 3# in two months. Any medication was going to make his other issues worse. Rather than bring him home and let him waste away and die, it was the only thing to do.
Tigger was “my” cat. I know he was loved by the whole family, but he and I were buds. We’d “rassle” on occasion, me roughing him up, and him tearing up my forearm and hands. He’d be purring the entire time, so I know he was having fun. I taught him to stand up on his hind legs to take treats, and eventually he would even take them from my lips. I noticed what foods he liked, and made adjustments in my shopping.
He was large for a cat, too. Not fat, because he was always in great shape, just large. Whatever vet I took him to, if there were people in the waiting room, he always got compliments. “What a beautiful cat!” “Wow, is he BIG!” “That’s a really good-looking cat!” He was “muh Tigga”, so I was happy for him. He didn’t seem big to me, and his coloring was varying shades of grey, which I thought was typical, but to others, he was unique.
In the summer, when I came home from work, he’d meet me out front, and wait for me while I photographed new blooms on the roses. I get done and sit down and scratch him behind his ears, and wait for him to roll over so his belly could be rubbed. When he was done, he’d jump up and head for the door, looking over his shoulder to make sure I was following, hoping to score some treats, or another can of food. Most of the time, it was more treats.
He was always the hunter. Coming home from a night shift was always interesting, because I never knew what type of carnage I’d find on my doorstep. Rabbits, birds, mice and moles, sometimes multiple species at the same time. It got so bad that it would take weeks for the bloodstains to come out of the concrete.
In the summer, he’d stay out all night, hunting and goofin’ off. He knew the sound of the truck coming down the street, because he’d be at the front door when I was backing in. My headlights lit up his eyes in the neighbor’s yard once, three houses away, and he literally raced me home, standing in the driveway when I got out of the truck.
He wasn’t eating much the last week or so, and I knew something was up. Monday morning I came home from work, planning to take him to the vet Tuesday, when I was off. He met me at the door, and we had our usual conversation. He’d meow at me, and I’d respond with “Let me get my shoes off, first”, “Yes, I know you’re hungry”, and finally, “Let’s go,” and we’d go downstairs so he could eat.
Tigger learned some English over the years. If he wanted to go out, he’d scratch at the door, usually just 2 or 3 scratches, enough to make some noise. I’d tell him to wait, and he wouldn’t scratch again, knowing that I’d open the door for him. If he got tired of waiting, he’d walk away and lay down, until I asked, “Go outside?”, and he’d jump up and run to the door. He got wet food 3 times a day, and all I’d have to do is say, “Wanna eat?” and he’d race me to the food dish.
He also always saw me off. I’d sit down to put on my shoes, and he’d come over and rub his head on my shoes, and try to get into my hands while I was lacing my boots. “C’mon, man, scratch me one more time before you leave, and I’ll meet you at the door when you get back, so you can do it again.”
So, Monday morning, he nibbled at what food he’d left in his dish from the night before, and I went to the computer to check for new mail. He came out shortly after, and let me know he was done. Knowing that things were not looking good for him, I sat down and scratched him in all the good places, rubbed his ears, and petted his back, feeling his spine bumpier than it ever had been. I told him I loved him and went to bed.
Mary woke me at 11:30. She called and the vet could see him that morning, and gave her the bad news. She came home with him because I didn’t hear my phone. I got dressed and we went back to the vet. Three left the house, and two of us came back.
Lady, our youngest cat, seemed to know what happened, and what was going on. She had followed Tigger almost everywhere the night before, so she knew. When I went back to bed, she jumped up and slept next to me for 3 hours. She’s never done that before.
Sleep well, Tigger. You’ll be missed.
Taken by my son, Mike, in June of 2002.
December 4th, for a PhotoPhun challenge.