Tigger, three months ago, still looking fit and healthy...
We arrived home in Marquard late on Saturday afternoon. After unloading our luggage and saying goodbye to Angus and family, we greeted the excited dogs out on the patio. Coming indoors I saw Felix and Chip on the pool table but bent down to greet Tigger who always sleeps on a plaid blanket on a dining chair under the table. I was shocked to see the deterioration in my 16 1/2 year-old ginger cat since we'd left home three months ago. Emily had told me a week ago that he was struggling to eat solid food and she was tempting him with morsels of tinned pilchards and fish juice washed down with warm diluted cow's milk. But now he had gummy eyes and a black rim around his mouth. When I stroked his back, all I felt was skin and jutting bones. I cleaned his eyes and mouth and brought him morsels of fish and warm milk which he ate.
Later on he staggered into our bedroom and clawed his way up my side of the bed. There he kept nudging me purring all the time. I fetched his plaid blanket and draped it over the end of our bed and placed a bowl of water in the corner of the room. We all fell asleep but later I woke and found he was not on the bed any longer. I checked through the house and eventually found him in my bathroom cupboard sleeping on a pile of fluffy towels. He got up when he saw me, meowed and had a long drink of water. Then he went back inside the cupboard and fell asleep.
On Sunday morning, Grant checked on him in the cupboard and said he had a black rim around his mouth again. I washed him again but he kept trying to claw my hand away from his face. I decided to phone our vet in a town about 60km away to see if they had an emergency service on Sundays. They do and made told us to come in immediately.
I made a comfortable bed of blankets and towels at my feet in the car and carried my dear old cat out in another large towel. Although I placed him on the floor, we hadn't gone 10km when Tigger sat up and tried to climb up onto the seat. I picked him up, still wrapped in the towel, set him on my lap where he tried to take an interest in the passing countryside. All the while I chatted to him about what a beautiful and spirited little kitten he was. He also never caught birds, lizards, mice or anything that cats normally hunt.
We duly arrived at the vet 's office where he and his receptionist showed us into the surgery. He weighed Tigger who tipped the scales at 1.8kg! His normal weight until about six months ago was 5kg. A quick look at the old cat, and his prognosis was not good. He said that Tigger's kidneys had failed; that is why he had bleeding ulcers in his mouth. He never suggested anything but when I said I felt we'd made that decision that pet-owners hate to make, he explained how he did it. He first administered a sedative and then would inject straight into the heart until it stopped. He asked if I'd like to leave the cat but I asked if I could stay with him. (Gran, who cannot handle any of this, stayed in the reception area) While we waited for the sedative to take effect, I stroked Tigger and told him he'd soon be seeing his old friend, Mandu (our West African cat) and also Magnus our Scottie with whom Tigger had grown up in the nineties.
Finally the vet administered "the" injection and within a few minutes Tigger sighed once and was gone.
He is buried under the orange tree in our garden and will remain in our hearts forever.
Rest In Peace, dearest old Tigger.