Monday, August 6, 2012
Goodbye Little Friend
Today we said goodbye to one of our resident outdoor cats, Tiger. Many of you have told us for awhile that it needed to be done, and we knew it was time to free her from her old, painful body. Still, it was surprisingly hard to watch her pass from life to death. All of us shed some tears. My poor, tenderhearted boy cried on and off for the rest of the day, and #3 got quite emotional when we told our favorite memories of Tiger at bedtime.
Tiger was one of the cats that came with the house. She showed up one day about 13 years ago. She was likely someone's pet that was abandoned in the field next to our house. The previous owners never fed or watered the two cats that hung around, but when we bought the house 9 years ago, I let the cats sleep in the garage during the winter as a thank you for catching mice. When Tiger started getting too old to mouse, I began leaving food outside. The children all consider our feral animals to be their pets, and Tiger has always gone along with that. She let them carry her around in baskets, dress her up like a baby, and sneak her into their rooms at night. (They only got away with that a few times until once when Tiger was shut into #1's room and peed on the floor. Then they all agreed outside was a better place for animals.)
A few children had special bonds with the kitty. As soon as we moved in, #1 named Tiger and claimed her as her own personal cat. #4 was born shortly after we moved, and Tiger decided to be the baby's companion. If ever I brought #4 outside to watch me work in the yard from her baby carrier, Tiger would climb in and drape herself across the baby's legs like a warm, soft blanket. Or she would be sure to stay by #4's side as the baby grew more mobile. She put up with a lot of "affection" from #4.
Our niece, Eve, also loved Tiger dearly. The picture above was taken on a night that we were babysitting. Eve didn't want to go to bed with our children, but wanted to wait up for her parents. I let her watch a movie in the family room while she waited. When they came, we found that Eve, like her cousins, had sneaked the cat inside and dressed her up a bit. Tiger's necklace matches Eve's socks!) It was fitting that we let Tiger go during Eve's visit this summer from England.
Living outside under our pine trees was a problem for Tiger's long hair because the pine needles would get matted into the fur. I took Tiger to the vet several years ago when her mats were getting bad. The vet guessed at the cat's age based on her teeth. At the time, Tiger was about seven years old, and the vet was surprised that an outdoor cat had lived that long. After eight more years, our granny cat was more than 100 in cat years, and probably would have kept hanging on. But it was time to release her from the oily matted fur that was too thick to even cut, the arthritis that made it difficult for her to follow the shady napping spots on our deck, and the recent infection that resulted from having her ear torn by another animal. It was time. But we are still sad. Goodbye sweet, little Tiger.