Our special Tiger kitty passed on sometime Tuesday night. Marla found him appearing to be peacefully asleep on the rocks outside the garage, and indeed he was, for the last time. He had been failing since the late winter to spring ... not painfully, just "being old". I'd bet that a urinary tract infection finally got him, but he seemed fine right up to yesterday, and he looked very peaceful.
The boys picked him out from the farm of my aunt and uncle up by Barron and he was a sickly little thing. In some ways he sort of picked them out ... he really wanted to play. He was always calm and always friendly. We got him in the fall of '95 when we moved in to this home, and he grew up with the boys -- he loved to get to sleep with anyone at night or for an afternoon nap. He loved people and he loved attention.
When we were going to take off on a trip, we always needed to know where Tiger was at before we could leave, and somehow he was always missing -- as if it was kind of a fun game for him. After a frantic search, he would come sauntering out from somewhere as if to say "OK, you did your penance for going off without me now". Naturally, when he was found he would get some extra loving before the launch.
His life was about as good as a life could be for a cat. Given our large lot and cul-de-sac, he was able to spend time inside or outside as he saw fit. One of his favorite games was "in and out", where he would go out for just a short time, scratch to come back in, and then maybe do that a couple of times just to make sure we were well trained at meeting his location desires. An entrance petting was required, and in the colder seasons, some comments about cold fur were always in order.
He enjoyed being held and fawned over in any way -- he could be held like a baby with his belly exposed, or drug around by kids in all manner of improper kitty holds, but he never seemed concerned. He seemed to know that he had hit the jackpot in the lottery of cat life, and was grateful. The warm chair, basking in front of a fireplace, but most of all the nice lap were his havens. He was also a good mouser. "Pure bred barn kitty" to the core.
One feels stupid shedding tears over a cat when the world is full of so much pain, suffering and loss of a much more real and human sort. Our pets remain special however -- our affection for them, and what at least appears to be their affection for us is simple, uncomplicated, elemental.
I sometimes think that when we think of "man in God's image" we jump to "reason" as the obvious thing that "makes us different". We like to think of God as "a really wise (smart) version of us", but I sometimes wonder if we don't completely miss the boat yet again, and that God's love for us might be a lot more like our love for pets -- caring, feeding, not really expecting much, happy when there is a positive response, but not really needing that. Just enjoying being a powerful and caring being that can help ... and glad that the creature in care has some appreciation of the gift they are receiving. Tiger excelled at being "more than happy to be here".
Their one to two decade lifespans provide another form of emotional era to our lives. Tiger was here with our boys, now he is gone, and they are off at school. The seasons and the eras change and there is bitter with the sweet. We will always remember you Tiger. Your life marked a mostly sweet time in ours, made even better by your presence.