I have had a cat since I was five years old. My first cat was called Velvet. She was black and white and her fur was velvety-smooth. Velvet could jump from the floor to the top of the refrigerator -- and often did. She liked the bird’s eye view from that stance and felt protected from the playful paw of our dog. It was a rarity, but there were a few near misses. Such incidents were marked by the acrid scent of her fur when it was singed by the gas stove -- lit beside the refrigerator. Much of the time, Velvet sat on my lap and purred. Velvet curled on my pillow and purred. She often draped herself across my legs at night and purred. I never complained that she restricted my movement; instead, I was honored that she stayed with me with such devotion. After Velvet, I had, in succession, six cats. Each cat had a unique personality and history. I loved them all. Tuffy, Zahra, Zulu, Zoe, Henry and Tiger. Tuffy came from the pound. Zahra was a gift from my husband. Zulu needed a home and we thought Zahra needed a friend. Zoe was a kitten when he was rescued from the pound; the progeny of feral parents. Henry simply appeared on our doorstep one day. After ten days of his pleading and persistent crying (including intermittent dashes into our house) he broke me. I fed him and he joined our family. Tiger was rescued as a kitten from the pound as a pet for our son. During a period of desperate loss, Tiger brought hope.
With the life and joy these cats brought into my home came the sorrow when their time was up. Velvet died at age 12. Zulu developed feline leukemia and had to be euthanized.
Zahra was hit by a car when she was 12.
Zoe reverted to a feral state and left us to live in a neighbor’s stable.
Henry befriended an aged widower. They moved to Nova Scotia where Henry was scooped up by an eagle. It was a dramatic ending for a gentle cat.
Tiger is a survivor. At twelve, he hunts with as much zest as he did at four. He has left our family three times over his lifetime. Once he disappeared for five weeks. Another time, he retreated for three weeks during a harsh and snowy January. He has astonished us with his returns, heralded by a persistent, loud and penetrating cry.
Tiger is part of the family, but his domaine is primarily a section of the basement and the great outside. Just two years after Tiger joined our menagerie, we discovered that all FIVE of our family members are allergic to cats! Yet Tiger is too dear to us to let him go. He is affectionate and loving. We give him as much time as our immune systems and noses allow. And Tiger? Every day through spring, summer and fall, he brings gifts and leaves them daintily on the front step. As a hunter, Tiger is in heaven living here on twelve acres of a densely wooded mountain. Tiger is at home.