TIGER











Those Tigger lyrics always fit her so well.

She was a Tiger rather than a Tigger, but Tigger after all is a tiger. And my Tiger was always bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy - fun, fun, fun, fun, FUN!
And that never changed.



She had aplomb, too, as well as playfulness.

Even as a kitten, she had that famous Tiger gaze.

And only Tiger could have carried off - literally carried off - a basket around the middle as a fashion statement.
She certainly hadn't planned to pick it up that way as she explored, but instead of panicking she acted as though nothing was wrong, as though it was just what kittens were supposed to be wearing that year.


Tiger came into our lives thanks to a Halloween snowstorm in 1991, which had left drifts she was unwilling to follow her feral momcat through. I heard Tiger meowing for help, one night I had insomnia and was awake at 2 am reading. I recognized her momcat's meow, calling to her, and realized something was wrong, and I ran outside in robe and slippers and found Tiger cowering in the shrubs, afraid of the drifts which her momcat, a beautiful but very small feral tabby I'd never been able to catch, was too small to carry her through.
Tiger was terrified at first, but oh how quickly she adapted to being a housecat. She taught herself to use the litter box, those first hours as she was left shut in a bathroom. And the next morning she began to explore, and she was soon completely at home, as you can see in this photo taken just days after she was rescued.

She discovered recliners were comfy, and TV could be interesting.

But, best of all, there were other cats...




Sinbad was 5-1/2 years old then. She had been an only cat most of her life, and she seemed happy about that. She hadn't been sure what to make of Frosty, the tiny kitten who joined our family after being abandoned beside a local bike trail, a few weeks before Tiger came into our lives.



She wasn't sure what to make of Tiger, either, and it was clear Tiger was baffled by the big kitty who often kept at a distance, rarely wanted to play - unless they were all running madly from room to room, a furry thundering herd, as they did so often - and never wanted to mother her and groom her.



But Tiger did like to watch Sinbad, and as she grew older she sometimes teased her.





With Frosty and Tiger, it was a different story. An adopted-sisters love story.

Two kittens who had lost their original feline families, they were just what each other needed.

Tiger couldn't have been more than a week or two older than Frosty, but she instantly took over the big sister role, and mothered Frosty, too. And for the next 13 years they were inseparable.

















Although I believe Frosty was the most important person in Tiger's life, Tiger loved humans, too.

She wasn't as talkative as the other two, and her purr was so quiet you wouldn't know she was purring unless you touched her. But she'd bump her head against you, climb all over you, sometimes stand up on her hind legs and wrap her front legs around someone's knee. Once in a while she'd goose someone.

She loved to have her belly rubbed, and you had to be careful walking near her, since at any moment she might do a somersault onto the floor in front of you, and stretch out.

She'd sometimes scoot across the floor on her side, pushing herself along. She loved to roll and wriggle on the floor, my sweet silly wiggleworm of a cat.









A rescued parrot joined our family in December 2002, a little conure named Pumpkin. I was worried at first about having a bird in a household with three cats. I needn't have worried. Conures are bossy, territorial little parrots, and Pumpkin, who thinks he's king of the world, soon had the cats agreeing.





Tiger and Pumpkin had an interesting sibling relationship. Tiger would watch Pumpkin closely, very entertained to have a bird living here. Pumpkin would throw his toys at her. She never seemed to mind.



In February 2003, Sinbad went to Rainbow Bridge, just two months before her 17th birthday. It was a shattering loss, a reminder how short our furbabies' lives are compared to ours.

But because she was five years older than the two younger cats I still usually called the kittens, I told myself I'd have at least five more years with them.



It turned out to be just two days short of two years and two months, for Tiger.

On March 11, 2005, I discovered a lump on Tiger's lower jaw. It was cancer, a tumor that in the next month went from the size of a small pea to the size of a marble, huge on her delicate jaw.

There are no good treatments for cancer of the jaw in cats. I knew that already, by the time I found the lump, because there'd been a cancer scare with Frosty a year earlier, but she fortunately did not have cancer.

Tiger did, and it was an aggressive tumor, growing noticeably within days. She went to Rainbow Bridge on April 11, 2005, exactly a month after I first realized something was wrong. I gave her painkillers to help keep her eating as long as possible. And I kept her life as normal and happy as possible during those last bittersweet weeks, and took lots of photos.















I miss her so much - the silliness, the wisdom, the love.

And I wasn't sure how Frosty would cope without her, after so many years of being so close. But she's done pretty well, and I believe Tiger is still close, and there have been many evenings when I've seen Frosty gazing for a long time with great interest at the spot in the entry hall that was Tiger's favorite place to lie in the evening. I'm sure Tiger is visiting then, and Frosty sees her.

Cynthia Darnell (Cathycat, in honor of her Bridgekid Catharine, at Petloss and the Lighthouse) wrote song lyrics for my sweet tabby, after Tiger crossed. CC reminded me how earlier we'd been writing song lyrics for cats, and she'd challenged me to write lyrics to the tune of Sloop John B. Which I had, writing about Sinbad and her feline sisters sailing on the sloop Kit T.

We sail on the sloop Kit T,
My two sisters and me,
Around Tabby Town we do roam...


Cynthia took that idea and tune and wrote Tiger's Song, which starts with these lines:

I sail on the sloop Kitt-E
My friends all here with me
We sail under the Bridge, then we all play.

Here I am, home.
This is my home.
I feel so good now.
I'm finally home.


Cathycat is on the Other Side now herself - like Tiger, she died of cancer, much too young. But I believe Tiger and all our community's Bridgekids were there to greet her.

And all of them are feeling so good now, finally Home.













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