|Tigger under the Christmas tree 2010|
Thirteen years ago, my husband and I moved in together (1998) knowing that one day we would be engaged. Within that first month, we bought Tigger. He was our first pet and an incredible cat. Because we went to school during the day and waited tables at night, when we got home, he was constantly in our faces...literally. I would try to sleep, but Tigger was on my chest licking my face or at the foot of the bed biting my husband's toes. This led us to buy Stripes...his new companion. We got married a year later and six months after that, we moved to Georgia with both cats in tow. Because I had always wanted a dog, we bought Jake, a Border Collie, and worried how the cats would do with a dog in the house. Tigger staked his claim and wrestled Jake causing Jake to be afraid of him for the next eight years. We were forced to find a home for Stripes four years into our stint in Georgia because we were supposed to move to Germany and could only take two animals. We chose to give Stripes to a loving older couple because she was constantly trying to go outside. Tigger made it through the sadness, but became even more loving to us. He slept with me in the nook of my arm every night after that. He was my baby.
We had our daughter the in 2004 and Tigger was intrigued. He learned quickly that she was of no interest to him, and he continued to sleep next to me. He would always be the first. He knew that. In 2006, we moved to Arizona - me pregnant with my son. I drove with my daughter and Tigger across the country while my husband drove with the dog. It was a long trek, but Tigger was a trooper. He slept most of the way. We moved into our first house, which may have been haunted causing Tigger to stay in my room for two years only coming out to use his box or to eat. Then we moved to our current house, which he claimed as his own. He went anywhere he pleased at any hour of the day. He was the master of the house.
About three months ago, he stopped sleeping with me. We thought it was because of our two dogs sleeping in the same room, but it had never bothered him before. He also started losing weight. I mentioned it to my husband, but we chalked it up to him getting old. We even changed his food thinking that was the problem, and we left for vacation. But Friday, when we got home, he looked even skinnier, so I immediately called the vet. They could get me in until Monday, so I took the first available appointment. Monday came and I piled the kids and Tigger into the car for his 3:00 appointment knowing something was wrong. The vet checked his teeth noticing a cracked tooth, and I secretly hoped that was the problem, but my heart told me different. The vet checked his breathing and told me she wanted to take some x-rays because it sounded labored. I didn't care about the cost as the vet rattled off prices. I told her do what you have to do. I took the kids for food while we waited. When we got back, the receptionists looked at me like, "Oh no, she's back," and I knew...it was bad. I waited with the kids in the empty waiting room for the vet wanting to be anywhere but there. Instead I followed the vet back, leaving my children in the waiting room not wanting them to see the results. There on the screen was an x-ray of my cat's lungs completely filled with tumors. He had cancer. As the vet told it was the worst case she had ever seen, I cried. I cried as I told her I knew what had to be done, but I needed my husband to be with me. She left the room allowing me to call him. I could hardly get the words out as we discussed the details. We needed to decide on cremation or home burial, did we want an urn, did we want to be in the room. It was horrifying. In the end, we said our good-byes to our cat and left both in tears. I cried most of the night wanting nothing more than my best friend who slept me every night for almost 13 years. I wanted my friend who tried to drink my milk while I ate my cereal every morning. I wanted that meow telling me to hurry up and feed him. I wanted Tigger. I still do.
Saying good-bye to a pet can be the hardest thing in the world. Pets love you unconditionally and don't talk back. You can tell them your deepest secrets and know they'll never slip and tell someone else. Tigger was this for me. We threw away his litter box, cat food, dishes, and accessories when we got home not wanting to face them. Now my home feels a little bit emptier than it was before. I am heartbroken. I will always miss him, and I know he can never be replaced.
RIP Tigger ... I love you.