Tigger Tribute: He had me at meow.

Seventeen years, four months, and 29 days, the longest relationship I've had in my adult life. One filled with life lessons, unconditional love and the sweetest purr. 

Lesson #1: Love will find you if you let it.  
It all started back in 1995, when I was invited by a colleague to see the litter of kittens born in her backyard. Having never had pet a before, I didn't realize that connecting with a pet is more about your hearts picking each other and less like customizing a car. I had my heart set on cozying up to a red and white striped cat. I even had a name picked out: Tigger (in homage to the Mr. Bounce himself). But what I found was that the ginger cat dozing in the sunlit corner wasn't as appealing as the feisty grey/white/beige kitten with the extra-long torso winding himself up to launch an attack on the Venetian blinds. He had me at meow. 

Lesson #2: It's all about the details. 
I don't think anyone can truly understand the impact an animal can have on life until they have a relationship with one. I had witnessed its benefits with friends and family but it was Tigger who showed me the magic of unconditional love. Unconditional, meaning without conditions or limitations; absolute. Absolute as in the every day things you do for each other, those actions however big or small that really make a difference. Some signs of Tigger's love: 
  • waiting for me to come home, sitting just inside the door  
  • muscling his way into my Dad's heart the self-proclaimed cat hater
  • acting as my 2nd and 3rd daily alarm clock 
  • an active adventurer, he kept me on my toes with Houdini-esque escapes from the house
  • he had the sweetest, gentlest kitty march neck massage
  • kisses by the dozen, rough tongue and all
  • spooning snuggler, he brought me the greatest comfort through many a migraine and flu 
  • and most especially as end of the bed guardian angel, to my mom when she was in hospice

Lesson #3: Big things come in small packages. 
Most people get a pet in their formative years, while they're growing up. Some of us, like me, are late bloomers and we find ourselves needing a pet in that last phase growth spurt. At age 24, I found the love of my life, he was grey striped with beige polka dots shaped in a smiley face on his stomach. He started off as the runt of the litter and in the height of his life was a whopping 23 lbs. He was known as the big guy, the fat cat, the monster and ate Italian table scraps: olives (sucked down to the pit), potato peels, pasta with tomato sauce and drank coffee milk. Those were the days I'll never forget. Tigger was a people person (drawn to cat lovers and non-lovers alike) and if he liked you he had a penchant for kissing bare feet. 

Lesson #4: Sometimes, love hurts.  
I won't lie today sucked. The day moved in slow motion and yet went so fast. I knew it would be painful, but I just didn't realize how much. It felt like my heart had been ripped out of my body, and it was almost like losing my mom all over again. Tigger was my rock during Mom's diagnosis, ensuing battle with cancer and then death, he absorbed a lot of my grief and in many ways like a life therapist taught me how to love again, to love myself and the people around me without judgment or fear, without too much expectation. He taught me how to protect myself, to become independent and strong. That may seem like a tall order for an animal to have fulfilled but if you've had one, you'll know what I mean. 

I know in my heart that he is in a better place without pain and discomfort and I am grateful for all the years we had together. The staff at the Animal Medical Center were compassionate and kind and allowed ample time for me to say goodbye before and after, and I was lucky to have a true friend there to support me throughout the day. 

And I know it's these next few days, weeks and months that will be the hardest. I can already feel his absence. The house is so quiet so still--not a whisper or a purr to call me home.  


Tigger Preziotti was like no other being I've ever known (except maybe my mom)--and I will miss him with all my heart, forever. 

Rest in Peace Little One. 

Tigger Preziotti
Lived July 4, 1995 - December 2, 2012
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