Saturday, June 16, 2007

With Two Cats In The Yard - Coda

Pronunciation: 'kO-d&
Function: noun
Etymology: Italian, literally, tail, from Latin cauda

I lost a friend today.

Tigger found us in the parking lot a little over 15 years ago. It was a raw, bitter day and he was a scrawny, smelly little thing. That's how we managed to find all of our cats; rather, I should say, that's how all of them have found us over the years. (Don't get me wrong - we're not those cat people you see pushing shopping carts full of squirming masses. "All those cats" totals three, now down to one.)

It was obvious Tigger was a fighter. Undernourished, neglected, parasite-ridden, he had apparently survived off of scraps around the dumpster at our apartment complex. I guess we looked friendly, because when we pulled up and got out of our car that December day he latched onto us as if we had always been family. He curled around our ankles and purred, grateful for things we hadn't yet offered.

Noticing the sleet, we took him in to the apartment, much to the consternation of Punkin, the current owner of the domain. Punkin had shown up on our doorstep in much the same way a couple of years prior, although looking less bedraggled.

We fed and cleaned Tigger (the name was obvious; bright orange with stripes, and a vivacious personality despite recent hardships) as best we could, and took him to the vet as soon as possible. To do so I bundled him in a stocking cap of mine. I wish we had a picture.

Turns out young Master Tigger was a neutered male about a year old, more or less, and riddled with parasites but otherwise healthy. We left him with the vet for a couple of days to treat him and get the requisite shots, then picked him up, took him home, and let he and Punkin get acquainted.

The running joke at our house was that Punkin was never a kitten and Tigger never grew up. Even when Punkin played he would do it in an oddly wise way. Tigger, on the other hand, was always waiting for that next opportunity to explore, or that next butterfly to chase, right up to the end.

Punkin died a few years ago, and shortly after that Troubadour entered our lives. (Karma seems to think two cats is a good number for us...)

In the last couple of weeks Tigger had been acting odd: stumbling, and getting spooked by seemingly nothing. Then last night the symptoms became acute, and my wife and I compared notes and noticed he hadn't been drinking over the past couple of days.

I took him to the vet this morning, then got a call a little later. Kidney failure. The vet listed options and didn't state the obvious, but when I said I didn't want Tigger to suffer, all he said was, "It's the right decision."

I went over and signed a consent form. They asked me if I wanted to stay while they did it. Of course. I wanted mine to be the last face he saw, not just a roomful of strangers.

I didn't stay long afterwards.

We moved recently, and Tigger really liked the new house. I'm really glad he got a chance to enjoy it.

It's supposed to be in the 80s today. Interesting how it feels like another raw, bitter day.