Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust…

Tiger, our eldest cat passed away today. He had been a staple to this family like no other pet has. We found him around the summer of 1995. He was about the age of a “teenager”. We adopted him and after getting him registered and fixed found out he belonged to some people in our neighborhood. Said people apparently didn’t care too much, because they already replaced him and said we could just keep Tiger. It was their loss.
Tiger made it to eighteen years once this spring passed. That is a record as far as I am aware. The longest living cat my mom had, which was before she even had me, lived to be at best seventeen. It was his time though, unlike the former who I think died from an unfortunate accident.
Tiger had been depleting in weight over the past year. In his prime her weighed up to twenty pounds. Today he was nine pounds. Over the year he slowly ate less and less to the point we enticed him with chicken and kitty treats. The past few weeks he has been turning his nose to those as well.
Last night was one of the major signs though. While my room was vacant, he took advantage of its silence, dim lighting and solitude. I checked on him to make sure he was breathing. Yes, we had been doing that for quite a while even w en he was in a bright room with plenty of activity. I later returned and tried to lightly brush his thinning coat out, but he found that uncomfortable and his breathing was heavier than I remembered. I left him be.
Today, Mom reported he wouldn’t eat. Sure, he drank water and licked some gravy from his food dish… but he wouldn’t eat. When I saw him in the kitchen later on he was just sprawled out on the floor, but I continued to notice his labored breaths. Finally around four my mom came home and we were taking him to the vets. In our pursuit to find him, he was hiding in a dark place.
There had been talk about his continuous weight gain before and we had checked his thyroid and blood levels… all of those were clean. A previous appointment did bring up a note of a strange enlargement of his kidney though. They told us at that time the possibility of cancer.
Well, we never found out if there ever was any cancer. According to the vet, with how he was struggling to breathe… at best he’d have a week. We could run tests, try to keep him around to the very last moment… but… Mom and I aren’t like that.
We agreed it was best to put him down. He was skeletal, deaf, becoming blinder as he became older and now couldn’t breathe well. Any cat lover who is well read knows cats do not show pain much. For all we knew, Tiger could have been suffering right before our eyes for a long time, but couldn’t tell. Well, we could tell enough.
We made the arrangements, signed the form and stayed by his side as they injected the meds into him. He fell asleep in seconds. Mom was sobbing. I was just… numb. It is surreal. When Peabody died, I of course felt it. This time, it was my mother sobbing. I don’t think she’ll be in her bed for weeks crying like I was, but it is still a hard hit.
Tiger was our Gandhi cat. Loving, gentle and laid back, he was a big baby that wanted to be loved and cuddled. Sadly, he didn’t always get that all the time – especially not from the other cats when we moved – but for the most part… I think he had a good life. Perhaps it could have been better… by means of more cuddle sessions, more petting and more rubbing. Nevertheless, I cannot recall him ever receiving an unkind hand or word from anyone human in the family – just the territorial youngin’ cats.
Ah… all Mom and I can hope is that he is doing well wherever he has wandered to. Mom believes strongly in the Rainbow Bridge, so I can only hope he’s made it there and that Peabody isn’t being too prissy and territorial towards him. Peabody was such an alpha, if he recognizes Tiger, he’d still be shrilling his high pitched yowl crying out, “This is MY territory, I don’t care if I lived with you in the past!”
Good luck, Tiger. I hope you are well wherever you are.