Tiger was put to sleep on November 25, 2008, he was at least 18 years old

November 2007 - at age 17 (approximately)

On December 16, 1993 an extraordinary event happened in my life...I took in a cat. "Tiger" had been scrounging through the garbage for food during the previous couple of days near my apartment. I had never owned a cat before, but there was just something about this hungry orange tabby that called out to me. The winter's cold made me feel even more sorry for him, so I took him in. The vet said that Tiger was between three and five years old at the time. I chose three. So he could be a couple of year older than the ages indicate on this page. When I took Tiger in, I was 27 years old and petless. I had grown up with dogs as a kid, but I never had a cat. But it didn't take long for Tiger and I to become very close friends. After just two nights, Tiger was sleeping with me on my bed - a habit that lasted for the next 15 years. And soon I could predict what he was about to do (yawn, go to the food bowl, pounce on a toy, affectionately rub my hand, etc.) just by looking at his body language.

Tiger was one of those cats who didn't ask for much, but gave plenty. He would excitedly run to me any time I called his name. He loved playing with me or with the other cats. He would nuzzled my hand each night for affection, and purr for many minutes next to my head until he fell asleep. All the female kitties instantly fell in love with him. Even ferals such as Princess who wouldn't let a human touch them, let their guards down for Tiger. Such naked affection is a moving sight to see. I feel honored to have seen him in action for all those years. As you can see in the below pictures and videos, Tiger often groomed the gals quite a bit, and they loved it of course. He was the only cat they would let groom them. He was playful well into old age, he showed his happiness with his "Tiger Trot", he was independent yet loving, he would very gently pat my shoulder with his paw in the middle of the night when he wanted affection. And I would give it to him. Always. He was very bright - he knew his feline friend "Linda's" name. If I asked him where "Linda" was, he would start looking for her. Also, when he heard the heater kick on, he would trot up the Cat Walks and lay right in front of a heater vent. He was a gentle old soul and a good friend. An X-ray revealed that Tiger had been shot with a pellet gun before I rescued him from the streets. The pellet remained lodged in his back his entire life. He deserved so much better than that. I'm glad I gave him a decade and a half of warmth. It was because of Tiger that I became the cat lover I am today. It was because of who he was that I took in several more cats, found good homes for countless strays, built catwalks in my home and an outdoor cat enclosure. He started it all. On November 25, 2008 I put this precious boy down after living for 14-months with an ailing heart. Amazingly, most of those months were quite healthy and you'd never know that he was an 18 year old cat (if not older) with a failing heart. Tiger was one heck of a special cat. I sure miss him. For more information on his last days, scroll down past the video clips.

Below are some pictures of Tiger, followed by several short video clips.

December 1993 - age 3

This was one of the first pictures ever taken of Tiger. I had just taken him in a week or so earlier. My Mom and Dad bought Tiger that carpeted house - which proved to be his favorite place to play for the rest of his life.

April 1994 - Tiger age 3

Tiger and me just after we moved from my apartment to my house. At this point he was still my only pet. I was about to turn 28.

June 1995 - Tiger age 5, Linda age 10 months

It's hard to think about Tiger without thinking about "Linda". Actually it's hard to think about Tiger without thinking about how the chicks dug him - and how he would groom them. I got Linda from the Oak Cliff Animal Shelter about a year after I took in Tiger. By that time, Tiger and I had moved from the apartment into a house. I kept them separated for two days - to induce curiosity about each other. Within a couple of days of being together Tiger was grooming Linda. And they were friends for the next 14 years. The above picture won honorable mention at the 1995 State Fair of Texas.

May 2002 - Tiger age 11, Linda age 7

The living room was one of Tiger & Linda's favorite places to play. Linda would pull down the plastic plant in the left of the picture by standing on her hind legs and grabbing the plant with her front paws and then walking backwards. Once the plant was on the ground, Linda enjoyed playing in the plastic leaves. Tiger liked it when I'd play with the mouse tied to the fishing pole. I spent a lot of time on that floor playing with those two kitties. I enjoyed every minute.

May 2002 - Tiger age 11, Linda age 7

My friend, Nancy, called Tiger & Linda "story book cats". They certainly made a cute pair.

When Tiger was 11 he developed a pretty bad bladder infection. I was stunned when an X-ray revealed a pellet (the white, hourglass-shaped object) lodged in Tiger's back. He must have been shot before I took him in back in 1993. It's heartbreaking to think of someone deliberately aiming a gun at Tiger and pulling the trigger. It undoubtedly caused him great pain. Scratching out an existence on the streets was certainly tough enough without being shot. It's amazing that he survived. It's even more amazing that he turned out to be such a gentle ol' soul. Unfortunately his vet, Dr. Fling, said that she sees stuff like this with regards to cats a lot. Heartbreaking indeed.

An interesting aside:
Note the faint collar bones on the far right side of the picture - they look like thin toothpicks on each side of his neck. Dr. Fling said that very few cats have two very distinct collar bones like that. Most cats either have no collar bones or just one.

June 2002 - Tiger age 11, Linda age 7

Tiger (left) and Linda loved laying together in my bay window. As you can see, Linda often wanted to be as close to Tiger as felinely possible.

Sept. 2002 - age 12

Tiger's favorite place to play was at his carpeted house. Mom & Dad bought that for him just after I took him in back in December 1993. He played on it for 15 years.

Feb. 2005 - Tiger age 14, Princess age 3

In May 2004 I took in the semi-feral, one-eyed, black cat, Princess, making her my third cat at that time. Princess wouldn't let me touch her, but she instantly fell in love with Tiger. If ever there was a case of love at first sight, this was it. In fact, all the gals fell for Tiger at first sight. It was very touching to watch Princess give so much of herself to Tiger, when she trusted no other animal on the planet (including my other female kitty, "Linda"). Yep, Tiger was a special guy.

Dec. 2005 - age 15

Tiger enjoyed the catwalks I built in my house. At night, just before I'd turn off my lights to go to sleep, he would often run full-bore across the catwalk in my bedroom and then pounce down the cat steps, leap over a cat tunnel on my floor, and dart into the hallway and then into the den. Seconds later he'd be on my bed wanting some affection before curling up next to my head for the night. During the winter he would listen for the sound of the central heater coming on and would dart up the catwalks and lay in front of the heater vent. He was a pretty smart fella.

Dec. 2006 - Tiger age 16, Linda age 12, Princess age 5

Even though Linda (gray tabby) and Princess (black) didn't care much for each other, they would tolerate being close to one another if it meant they could be close to Tiger. He certainly had a magical way with the ladies.

April 2007 - Tiger age 16, Princess age 5

July 2007 - Tiger nearly 17, Josie age 3 months

In June 2007, I took in "Josie", making her my fourth cat at that time. My other two females, Linda & Princess, didn't care for Josie - but Tiger tolerated her. Josie was an extremely playful kitten, so Tiger would periodically have to set some boundaries with a hiss or two. But being the gentleman that he was, Tiger put up with a lot of play from her. Unfortunately, Tiger curtailed his play after I got Josie because if he would run across the floor, Josie would become extremely excited and want to tackle him. Oh, that Josie. Sometimes I would separate them into different rooms so that I could let Tiger play without fear of being pounced on. Three months after I got Josie, Tiger suffered a heart attack. Although his severe cardiomyopathy didn't slow him down much at first, I often kept those two separated - in an effort to provide Tiger with a relatively calm environment.

Feb. 2008 - Tiger age 17, Princess age 6, Josie age 10 months

Tiger is in the middle of the poignant picture, Josie is up and to the left, Princess is sitting on the window sill (partially obscured). Tiger had been diagnosed with heart failure for five months at this point and was doing quite well.

May 2008 - age 17

Tiger loved going out into the cat enclosure. Princess also enjoyed being outside; she and Tiger often laid close to one another on a shelf as they soaked up the sun and felt the wind move through their fur. Tiger had been diagnosed with heart failure for eight months at this point, and he was still doing very well.

Sept. 2008 - Tiger age 18, Princess age 7

It had been one year since his heart attack and subsequent diagnosis of heart failure. Tiger had remained remarkably healthy up to this point. After this point, however, his weight loss accelerated and the LASIX seemed to have stopped clearing the fluid from his chest as well as it had. He lived another two months after this photo was taken. He was at least 18 years old when he was put down. He was my buddy for 15 years, and I will always miss him.

Windows Media Player Video Clips
If you don't have the latest version of the Windows Media Player you can get the free version by clicking here.

Very first video of Tiger (approx. 3.5 yrs old) - December 1993
Tiger playing in his new carpeted cat house - December 1993
Tiger playing near stuffed dog - June 1994
Tiger interested in cat Xmas music - December 1994
Tiger playing with toy from Linda McReynolds - December 1994
Tiger playing in Xmas gift tunnel - December 1994
Tiger & Linda first see each other (Tiger 4, Linda 6 mos.) - January 1995
Tiger following Linda around house - January 1995
Tiger & Linda play fighting - January 1995
Tiger & Linda groom each other - January 1995
Tiger & Linda grooming eachother - January 1995
Tiger & Linda playing - January 1995
Brad in bed with Tiger & Linda (Brad age 28, Tiger 4, Linda 6 mos) - January 1995
Tiger & Linda in Cat Run for first time - February 1995
Tiger & Linda on their bdays Part I (Tiger 5, Linda 1) - August 1995
Tiger & Linda on their bdays Part II - August 1995
Linda pulling down plastic tree Part I - August 1995
Linda pulling down plastic tree Part II - August 1995
Tiger & Linda playing in plastic tree - Aug. 1995
Tiger & Linda playing on Halloween 1995 (Tiger 5, Linda 1)
Tiger & Linda playing in cat enclosure - Oct. 1995
Tiger & Linda rough housing cat enclosure - Oct. 1995
Tiger & Linda play fighting (Tiger 5, Linda 1) - Oct. 1995
Tiger & Linda grooming each other (Tiger 9, Linda 5) - December 1999
Tiger & Linda on the catwalks - November 2001
Tiger & Linda playing in living room - November 2001
Tiger & Linda snuggled up together - December 2001
Tiger & Linda grooming each other - May 2002
Tiger feeling good after a bladder infection - May 2002
Tiger's nighttime routine (age 12) - January 2003
Tiger purring at night - January 2003
Tiger & Linda in the large enclosure - June 2003
Tiger & Linda playing at carpeted house (Tiger 13, Linda 9) - August 2003
Tiger playing with feather - August 2003
Tiger in cat enclosure - August 2003
Tiger playing with feather (age 13) - Oct 2003
Tiger & Princess early contact Part I (Tiger 14, Princess 3) - August 2004
Tiger & Princess early contact Part II - August 2004
Tiger & Princess early contact Part III - August 2004
Tiger, Linda, Princess - January 2005
Tiger & Princess grooming each other (Tiger 14, Princess 3) - January 2005
Tiger on his 15th b-day - August 1, 2005
Tiger & Princess on Sali's tower (Tiger 16, Princess 5) - January 2007
Tiger on Sali's tower (Tiger age 16) - January 2007
Tiger loving on his stick - May 2007
Tiger & Linda playing (Tiger 16, Linda 12) - May 2007
Tiger & Josie early contact (Tiger nearly 17 yrs, Josie 7 wks) - June 14, 2007
Josie playing rough with Tiger (Tiger 17, Josie 3 mos.) - August 2, 2007
Josie playing with the feather with Nancy (Josie age 7 mos.) - December 2007
Tiger & Princess on cat walks (Tiger 17, Princess 6) - December 2007
A contented Tiger (age 17) - December 2007

Heart Problems
On September 1, 2007 Tiger's left hind leg went limp. During the following week he regained full use of it, but it was later discovered that he had suffered a heart attack which threw a blood clot causing the temporary paralysis of his hind leg. He was at least 17 at the time and in great shape for a cat that age. After a few tests (including two ultra sounds and several chest X-rays) it was revealed that Tiger's heart was only contracting at 20% of normal and that his failing heart was causing fluid to press on his lungs making it a little harder for him to breathe. One heart specialist said his condition was so severe that I should consider every day with Tiger to be a "special day". I did. Remarkably, Tiger was almost as playful after his heart attack as before. Still, most vets gave him only three months to live - and that was assuming he was on heart medications (Beta Blockers, Ace inhibitors, etc.). But Tiger won't eat medications in his food - not even if they are compounded into tuna-flavored treats. I opted not to forcibly "pill" him either. He deserved more dignity than that, and there was little proof the heart meds would extend his life anyway. Not pilling him proved to be a good decision on my part - with a lot of TLC and an occassional subcutaneous LASIX injection (to remove the fluid from around his lungs) Tiger lived another fourteen months. And with the exception of the last two weeks, they were remarkably healthy, playful and happy months. The only prescription medicines he was on was the LASIX injections (roughly once every 2 weeks at first, once every 3 to 4 days toward the end) and and anti-thyroid cream (Methimazole) rubbed into his ear each morning (a nuclear scan revealed that his thyroid was hyperactive). During the first few months after his heart attack, I took Tiger to the vet every few weeks to get a chest X-ray. I did this so that I could learn from just watching his breathing how much fluid was on his chest. This in turn allowed me to give Tiger the minimum amount (in my judgement) of LASIX to clear his chest. During the last year of his life I didn't take him to the vets very often, I didn't want his last few months to be full of scary vet trips.

Tiger did remarkably well during that first year after his heart attack. But by August 2008 he had lost quite a bit of weight and was slowing down a little. A blood test revealed that his kidneys were being slightly taxed by the LASIX and perhaps even by the anti-thyroid cream - but the kidney numbers were not too bad. Given his age and heart condition he was in pretty good shape. I passed up going on my annual Rocky Mountain trip in early October 2008 so I could stay with Tiger just in case he took a turn for the worse. He had lost some more weight, but he was still affectionate and fairly playful given that he was at least 18 years old and had been diagnosed with severe heart failure for over a year. What a trooper! Sometimes he preferred to sleep in the den instead of on my bed, so I made a pallet on the floor of the den and would often sleep with him there. He would still nuzzle my hand for affection and purr and pat the covers with his hand indicating he wanted me to lift up the covers so he could go under them and look around. Unlike most cats, he didn't like to stay under the covers long. Towards the end, the LASIX didn't seem to be clearing his chest as well as it had been...this caused his breathing to be slightly labored (although he never gasped for air). By late November he was looking very thin and he had finally stopped playing, stopped purring and stopped walking up on the catwalks. And then he stopped eating entirely. I offered him every kind of cat and baby food under the sun. I even tried an appetite stimulant ear cream. Nothing worked. He became very weak (from lack of food and from his bad heart & fluid-compressed lungs). Tiger couldn't walk more than a few feet without collapsing on his side in exhaustion. I called my vet and said I thought the end was near. But I wanted her to come see him just in case she had a magical panacea that might help him. She was kind enough to pay him a home visit. I was afraid that it wasn't his heart failure that was killing him, but his kidneys. Perhaps I had taxed his kidneys too much with the LASIX and the anti-thyroid cream; not that I had much of a choice. But she said that she didn't think he was in kidney failure. She felt that his heart was finally tuckering out and that he was producing so much fluid in his chest that the LASIX was not able to clear it good enough. In fact, from looking at the depth of his breaths she said he needed a subcutaneous LASIX injection that night. She sighed when I said that I had given him an injection just a few hours before she arrived at my house. She sadly said that she had "no more tricks up my sleeve" for Tiger and that from looking at him he was most likely going to pass away sometime during the next 24 hours. I saw this coming for 14 months but I was still heartbroken. After the vet left, I watched Tiger struggle to stand and walk. He could sometimes walk a few feet, but he would then collapse to catch his breath. Most of the muscles were gone from his hind legs. He could no longer stand long enough to drink water from a bowl, so I would bring him a shallow bowl and place it under his chin. He would usually lap up a little water. He would force himself to find a hiding place (like behind my toilet) and stay there. Occasionally I would hear him cry while laying on his side exhausted. Of course, I spent most of my time next to him. We slept together on the floor that night. He was breathing fairly hard; I don't think he slept. It was time to end this; probably past time. He had given me and the other kitties so, so much - I owed him a kind exit from his tuckered existence even if it crushed me. The next day, November 25, 2008, I put him down. He died peacefully in my arms. He was at least 18 years old at the time, and he'd been my buddy for 15 years. What a wonderful cat. Smart. Loving. Playful. He groomed all the female cats. It was a very tough loss and I miss that special boy more than I can express.

Other Related Links On My Site:
My Cats' Home Page
The Catrun
The Large Cat Enclosure
Catwalks Inside My House

Return to my cat page