18 December 2009

Going Gently

Tiger is very old, and he is waiting for death in his peace. I suspect, he is now preparing to die. He sits in the basement on an abandoned recliner and sleeps and sleeps, preparing, I suppose, for his final rest. He seems to arise only to eat and to use the litter box. He does not come into the living spaces.

Tiger is our final cat. In our twenty years here, we have at various times been home to six different cats, two of which we brought from New York, and three of which found us here. One by one each cat moved on, one to old age, one to permanent and irreparable disability and subsequent residence at the Humane Society as a result of his inability to control a leaking excretory system, and three to violent deaths. The last death, not three months ago, was a gift from Gary when Emma was about three or four. He too (the cat, and of course, Gary) was getiing old—almost seventeen, I suspect. He was killed by a car, and Gary runs more safely.

Tiger long ago found his way here as word on the cat grapevine got around that here were good eats and a warm bed. He sat outside our door for several days before we admitted him into residence, discovering immediately that he was born with a defect: his eyes were too big for the sockets, or set back too far in the sockets, I never got it quite straight. The vetinarian offered to attempt to correct this problem pro bono if we would promise to keep the cat. Everyone agreed; she did the work but though no fault of her own, the eyes never improved. Tiger lived his whole life afflicted; some thickened liquid oozing from his sockets and obstructing his vision. He wasn’t the most pleasant feline, but he deserved his keep. Now, many years later, Tiger is veritably blind, walks into walls and chairs, and when he manages to find some way, he appears to follow the light.

And when his comrade was killed several months ago, Tiger slipped precipitously into decline (a remarkably common and accurate cliché, and I hate clichés as a clear case of dead language). I do not know what the nature of relationships between cats might be, but I think Tiger mourned the loss of his companion, grew lonely, and decided to move more actively toward death.

I do not think he will rise again. And it saddens me, I think, though I anticipate with some ease a cat litter-less home


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