Today is Friday, August 12. Today, Tiger, the cat who indirectly inspired my comic, Catbeard the Pirate, died.

She was 18 years old, and almost three years ago to the day she was diagnosed with kidney failure. I’ve done all I could to make her life as easy as possible, and kept up with her treatments, but at long last I had to make the decision to let her go. It’s horrible to make that choice, but Tiger was beginning to be unable to control herself, and as she got older she also got more unsteady on her feet. I could see the fur on her legs starting to turn grey. I had begun worrying that she might try to make a jump while I wasn’t at the house and hurt herself as well.

Tiger was the cat I’ve had the longest. I think I had her for about 15 years. Maybe more. My parents adopted her from a friend of my father’s. For some reason she glommed onto me rather quickly, but cats do that – they find a person and make them their own. Every day when I came home from work, she’d be waiting on top of the microwave for me, and she’d meow when I came in the door. Every night she demanded to be let in my room so she could be with me when I went to sleep.

She had strange quirks. Tiger loved saltines and french fries, and she’d do just about anything to get them from you. Later in life I discovered that she also liked bell peppers. She liked to come up to me and sniff the top of my head. She used to bite my parents’ dog on the ear when she got too close. Tiger had a little stuffed tiger tail, a catnip toy, I think, that she liked to carry around in her mouth and play with. We had to sew it back together more than once.

Tiger was very patient. Most cats don’t like to be manhandled, but Tiger loved any kind of attention. She’d let you pick her up and fold her into a pretzel, or pet her gently on your lap, or even just call her name, and she’d come running, usually with a friendly meow. She was a big talker. I’ll miss that. It’ll be too quiet in my house now.

I think I liked it best when I’d let her stretch out over my chest, and while I’d pet her, she’d rub her face against my shoulder. She always had the happiest, most contented expression then.

I spent my last full day, Thursday, with her pampering her as much as I could. She got to drink my breakfast cereal milk, and I cried and held her tightly, wishing that I didn’t have to go to work. As soon as I got home, I fed her some of her special soft food. I put ice in her water dish, which she loved. I made french fries and let her have as many as she wanted – which wasn’t many, as she’d already eaten, and as she’d gotten older, I think her appetite diminished. We watched some Star Trek: The Next Generation on Netflix together, and I held her as much as she’d let me. Even she had her limits on how much I could maul her. I told her over and over again how sorry I was, and how much I loved her. She didn’t understand, of course, but I couldn’t help it. My sister came over later, and then we watched My Neighbors the Yamadas, and we took some pictures of Tiger. Mundane stuff, mostly, that was more special because she was there.

I took her to the vet after work today, and he put her down painlessly. I told her I was sorry again, and I loved her.

I know now she’s out of any pain. She doesn’t have to wait for me to pick her up and give her an injection every other day. She doesn’t have to worry about misjudging the distance to my lap and falling back down to the floor when she tries to jump on me. She won’t get randomly attacked by my other cat, Jiji. But I selfishly wish she were still here with me anyway.

There’s a song that I’ve had going through my head for the last couple of days – it’s from a children’s movie, but I can’t think of a more apt way to put it than this:

Saying goodbye, why is it sad
Makes us remember the good times we’ve had
Much more to say, foolish to try
It’s time for saying goodbye

Goodbye, Tiger. I love you and I’ll miss you.