The Greatest Cat in the World: Tigger, 1993 – 2009

I didn’t make this post while I was in Australia because I thought it would upset me too much and I was concentrating on not letting it ruin my vacation. A few days after I left, Mark had to let Tigger go. He’d had kidney disease for several years but had only in the last month or so shown any real symptoms. When I booked my trip back in October, it was with no small amount of apprehension that something would happen to one or both of the cats right before the trip or while I was gone, but as they both seemed in relatively decent health at the time, I felt I couldn’t live my life based on “what ifs”. To my immense sadness, the worst case scenario came true and Tigger fell ill just before I left. He spent Wednesday night in the animal hospital. When I retrieved him on Thursday, he was not himself, although he was very clingy and did not appear to be in pain. I spent Thursday night with him sleeping on me and when I said goodbye to him on Friday when leaving for the airport, it was with tears in my eyes because part of me was sure it was for the last time. And unfortunately it was. He declined rapidly after I left and after another visit to the vet, it was decided between Mark, the doctors, and I that the time had come to let him go.

I can not express to you how glad I am that I have such a marvelous husband who took care of this for me. While I was gallivanting around the globe, Mark was home shoving several pills a day down Brachtune’s throat, cleaning up after Tigger in his final days (apparently he became a bit incontinent), taking both cats to the animal hospital (Brachtune also needs sub-q fluids every other day), and generally giving both cats the enormous amounts of love they need. Although my heart breaks at the thought that I was not there during Tigger’s final moments, I am comforted by the fact that Mark loved the little tyke as much as I did, and that Tigger loved him too – as much as he loved me. I don’t know that I would have felt comfortable about this with anyone other than Mark, but in the 8 years they knew each other, Mark and Tigger were just as close as Tigger and me.

I’ll share a brief story of Tigger’s life with you, if I may. In 1993, a friend of mine was planning to move back “home” from the beach in Ocean City, Maryland, in order to attend my university with me. I’d be moving out of my current apartment and we’d be moving into a new one together. A couple of months before the move was to happen, she drove a tiny 6-week old kitten the three hours from Ocean City to Towson, Maryland, and presented him to me, to be our kitty together when she herself moved up later. She looked exhausted when she arrived, stating the little one had screamed the entire trip. Having traveled much lesser distances with this cat in the future, I can tell you Lisa was nothing less than a saint for tolerating him for that long! I fell in love with the kitten on sight. Lisa named her Antigone, both because she liked the name and because another friend of ours had recently been in the play of the same name.

When the time came for me to move from the old apartment into the new, there were some sort of repairs that needed to be made to the new apartment that caused me to leave the cats (I also had at the time a stray I had taken in a while before) in the old place after moving all of the furniture. On my way home late one night after being out, I stopped by the old apartment to visit the cats and was dismayed to find one of the window screens had been cut and my little orange kitten missing. Either someone had deliberately stolen the cat, or (more likely) someone had been trying to rob us and was very disappointed indeed to find the place completely empty, and unwittingly let the kitten out, either by the front door when they left or through the hole in the window. Whatever the case, I was devastated. Friends and I spent the Fourth of July making Lost Cat signs that we hung around the neighborhood. I called Lisa, who hadn’t yet moved up from the beach, in tears. On the day we were to make the final inspection and move the one remaining cat to the new place, I was late meeting another friend of mine there. He asked me to go retrieve his bag from one of the bedrooms. I told him to get it himself. He insisted that I get his bag for him, which was behind a. closed door. When I opened the bedroom door, I was greeted not by his alleged bag, but by one tiny, orange, much-missed kitten! One of my neighbors had seen the bowls of food I’d been leaving out (but curiously not the signs) and, finding my friend heading in to wait for me, had asked if he was missing a cat, and he’d gone to collect my baby. I went to the neighbor’s apartment to thank her. She was a cat person herself and had taken good care of the little one for a few days, but insisted on calling the kitten a “he”, despite the fact that Lisa had always called it a “she”. I was not the brightest crayon in the box at the time and instead of peering under the kitten’s tail (I knew very well how to tell a boy from a girl cat), I simply assumed the lady was sloppy with her pronouns. A couple of weeks later, though, when my orange kitten got its first shots, I was of course made a fool of. Antigone, despite the girlish name, was a boy, and became from that day simply Tigger. And also king of my heart.

When Lisa and I eventually moved on and were no longer roommates, I took Tigger. I didn’t even give her a real choice in the matter. I loved him more than anything and wasn’t going to be parted from him. I was totally crazy for this cat. When singing along with songs, I substituted “Tigger” for most 2-syllable words and claimed all songs were in fact about Tigger (and how great he is). Tigger could be aggressive at times: if you looked at him wrong, he was sometimes apt to claw you. But I always sided with the cat instead of bloodied friends and family, claiming they must have provoked it and that he was just a little baby boy who never did anything wrong. When Mark and I were away from home – whether on a long trip or just at a bar – we’d ask each other constantly, “What do you think Tigger is doing right now?”

I met Mark in 2001. Mark and I were one of those sickening couples that falls almost instantly in love, but if he and Tigger (and Brachtune for that matter, but she loves just about every human) had not hit it off as well as they did, I’m not sure what would have happened. Mark even had to sacrifice his own cat in order to move in with me because Tigger barely tolerated Brachtune after eight years and would have probably killed Mark’s cat. (Mark’s mom now provides a very happy home for Mark’s cat, Din.) Mark was fond of saying that Tigger needed a male role model in his life and it did seem as if Tigger mellowed after being adopted by his new father figure. I’d never seen Tigger like anyone as much as he liked me – he barely tolerated anyone else on his best days – but he almost immediately took to Mark, and Mark to him.

I’ve had cats my entire life, but I’ve learned that you bond with different pets with varying amounts of intensity. The bond I had with Tigger was immense and eternal. He greeted me at the door whenever I came home, begging to be picked up and cuddled. As readers of this blog are aware, he “helped” me cook nearly every meal I made. He happily wore a harness and leash and went for jaunty walks around the neighborhood with me. He loved to be held like a baby and walked around the house by Mark. Mark and I would often pick him up and sandwich him with kisses. He tolerated me picking him up and dancing around the house with him. He’d put his paws around my neck and hug me when I was feeling blue. He was my best friend.

Mark told me on the phone when breaking the bad news that he was glad I was so far from home when things turned bad because all of my memories of Tigger will be good and happy, and I won’t have to remember the pathetic state he was in in the day or two before he was gone. Although it sickens and pains me to think I wasn’t there, Mark made a valid point. I knew Tigger’s passing was going to turn me into a sniveling wreck of a human being for a long time, but I was kept so busy in Sydney, that though I grieved, I had some time to adjust before coming home and dealing with the house being devoid of him, and the simple fact of his not being here is the hardest thing to take. I nominate Mark for Husband of the Year, however, and having gone through this, I am reminded of why I love my husband. Mark tells me that Tigger spent his last couple of days not budging from his lap (which was in a way a symptom of his illness, because Tigger wasn’t much of a lap cat). I know Tigger died a happy cat. And I’m so happy to have had him for nearly 16 wonderful years.

I was right in that being in the house with it empty of him would be the hardest part. It’s only beginning to really hit me now that I’m home. I missed him walking in the door because he was always there to greet me. I missed him when doing the laundry because he’d always stick his head in the washing machine as I loaded it. I missed him while making soup because he always helped me cook. I missed him while taking a shower because he always took showers with us. I miss him every minute.

He always helped me cook. How can I do it without him?

I just hope he’s in peace.

This is one of my favorite photos in the whole world: my two favorite boys.


  1. Mom Said,

    March 7, 2009 @ 6:44 pm

    I am very proud of Mark for what he did for Tigger at the end. It just proves what a big heart Mark has.

  2. Cindy Said,

    March 7, 2009 @ 7:14 pm

    Tigger was lucky to be so loved.

  3. Jes Said,

    March 7, 2009 @ 7:50 pm

    ((hugs)) I almost cried when I read this post. Tigger sounds like the most amazing cat ever and I’m glad you were able to have those amazing 16 years with him.

  4. Robin Said,

    March 7, 2009 @ 8:30 pm

    Oh I teared up when I read this, what a great kitty!

  5. Jain Said,

    March 7, 2009 @ 9:30 pm

    I was so sad to read this. It was always a delight to see Tigger pictures and read about his latest escapades. You and Mark have my sympathy.

  6. kibbles Said,

    March 7, 2009 @ 10:06 pm

    A hugely major reason I started avidly following your blog was because of the amazing love for your cats and the silly photos and quips about them. (The second is the amazing food, obviously). I truely will miss him appearing in your photos, inspecting the food and being just adorable. I can tell just by reading your food blogs that Tigger was a very happy and loved friend. I’m so sorry for your loss. <3

  7. Alexis Said,

    March 8, 2009 @ 12:17 am

    I cried when I read this. You and Tigger were a great pair and he will be much missed by your readers too.

    I’ve always had a soft spot for the orange ones and am so worried about my family’s orange kitty who also has early stage kidney disease (he is 12 now). I hope he gets as much love as Tigger in the end.

    My deepest sympathies. Some pets are special beyond the capacity of words to convey.

  8. renae Said,

    March 8, 2009 @ 1:56 am

    Thank you, everyone, for your kind words. I know Tigger was the real attraction and star of this blog and I hope I can make it a worthwhile read without him. It’s a bit lonely in the kitchen without him!

    Alexis, Tigger was 11 or 12 as well when he was first diagnosed with early stage kidney disease, so you may well have many years left with your family’s kitty. You’d never have known he was sick until just a few weeks ago, and we weren’t even treating him: there was no way he’d allow us to give him fluids and he wasn’t too keen on the low-protein food the vet wanted him to eat. Just enjoy every moment you have with your kitty. The last few years I had with Tigger were probably the best.

  9. Cecilia Said,

    March 8, 2009 @ 9:42 am

    Oh my god, I don’t know what to say Renae, I’m deeply saddened by this post. I’m so sorry for your lost 🙁 Tigger is indeed the greatest (and the most BEAUTIFUL) cat in this whole wide world (now, heaven) and he will be greatly missed! The story that you wrote about him is so so so touching …. it is hard to not cry when I read this ….

    I wish you and Mark all the best, and I hope that you guys will feel better soon ….

    Sending you guys lots of hugs and kisses,

  10. Courtney Said,

    March 8, 2009 @ 4:25 pm

    I am SO sorry to read about your beloved cat. Both of my cats died this past November, and so I know a bit of what you are going through. Those photos are adorable and lovely, and you will always have them and his memory. I am sorry–I know it will be hard to get over this loss.

    Hang in there!

  11. Lisa Said,

    March 8, 2009 @ 5:10 pm

    Renae and Mark – I am so sorry for your loss.

  12. Theresa Said,

    March 8, 2009 @ 9:19 pm

    I’m so, so sorry for your loss. What a terrible thing to happen, but I’m glad that you have so many happy memories and such great photos to look back on.

  13. Mandee Said,

    March 8, 2009 @ 9:53 pm

    I’m so sorry that you lost your best friend. We had a female ginger cat who had kidney disease in her later years. I took her to the vet clinic that I work at but she died the one day I wasn’t there working 🙁

    Tigger sounds like he was an awesome cat & friend.

  14. Virginia Said,

    March 9, 2009 @ 8:05 am

    i am deeply sorry for your loss. your posts will not be the same without tigger in the pics. he was a beautiful cat.

  15. Felicity Said,

    March 9, 2009 @ 8:13 am

    I’m so sorry to read of the loss of your best friend and companion.

  16. celine Said,

    March 9, 2009 @ 9:21 am

    much love and good thoughts are sent your way, R.

  17. meg Said,

    March 9, 2009 @ 1:40 pm

    Aw, I’m very sorry to hear about Tigger. My co-worker/officemate and I are cat lovers and so whenever I’m browsing your blog I always pull her over to check out Tigger/Brachtune pics. I hope they have nutritional yeast up in cat heaven and that he gets to help them cook/keep their laptops safe up yonder.

  18. Lucy Said,

    March 15, 2009 @ 12:36 am

    OMG… I’m sorry about the loss!! I, too, am familiar with the heartache of losing a pet!! I lost my beloved Shih Tzu last year 🙁 Your kitty had a GREAT life and one day you will meet him at Rainbow Bridge

  19. bex Said,

    March 27, 2009 @ 5:55 pm

    It sounds like Tigger had a wonderful and long life with you and you were both better for it. I think we will all miss Tigger too as he was such a big help in the kitchen. Thank you so much for sharing such a lovely (and adorable) friend with all of us.

  20. ms Said,

    June 12, 2009 @ 10:44 pm

    I’ve been catching up on your blog. I’ve been reading in order from the very beginning and just got to the part about Tigger. I cannot tell you how much I am crying as I read this post. I adore cats and have had to go through the same thing and it just brought up all those memories. Tigger was beautiful and I always looked forward to your posts about him. I hope the pain is softened as time goes by. Oh, and you do have an awesome husband.

  21. renae Said,

    June 15, 2009 @ 9:49 pm

    Ms, thank you for your kind words. I still miss that little guy immensely.

  22. soph Said,

    August 27, 2009 @ 9:13 am

    i am sorry for you i have a cat called tigger as well and i be up set to andi think his brother is calld jake

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