The Cat Who Didn’t Know He Was A Cat. . .
He was born on April 12, 1967, a yellow tabby that I immediately fell in love with. All in all it was a banner day for me. I had my first period, and I got to go to my very first concert, The Monkees! But the best thing of all was that Tiger was born. His mom was Sweet Pea, named for the song by Tommy Roe, Sweet Pea. . . c’mon Sweet Pea, c’mon and dance with me. . .
From the start Tiger was different. The other kittens were long-haired and silky with large gold eyes. Tiger was short-haired and had green eyes. And I swear he could smile.
When the other kittens went out to new homes Tiger was left behind. Mom and dad said that it was because he was so ugly that no one wanted him, but I always suspected that they knew how much I loved him and kept him for me. In fact my dad would always call him the “worthless yellow fur piece” when any one was around, but you could hear him sometimes saying to Tiger “how’s my Tiger cat?”, but we always pretended not to hear that.
Sweet Pea was a great mom and tried so hard to teach Tiger all the things he needed, but Tiger just never seemed to get it. He didn’t like tuna or fish or milk, but he really enjoyed popcorn. When Sweet Pea tried to teach him how to walk along the top of the fence, like any good cat, he could never do it. He never got more than a couple of steps before he fell off. She tried to teach him repeatedly how to climb our Poplar trees by running him up one. But the problem was, once he made it up the tree, he couldn’t get back down. He would perch precariously up in the tree, mewling frantically as our Kansas wind made the tree sway and bend. I would have to go and get the ladder and rescue him. When he was close to a year old this pattern was still continuing. I’m not sure who was more upset, my mom watching me climb the ladder or Sweet Pea, who with ears laid back in a look of seeming disgust watched also. Once I had him down, she would turn her back and start licking and grooming herself which I’m sure was her way of showing him that she was mad!
Years later after Sweet Pea was gone, another female cat came to live with us. Her name was Tasha and she was a natural born huntress. If it moved, she could catch it and kill it, and she would often bring little gifts for us, just to let us know she loved us. When she would bring these gifts to Tiger and lay them in front of him for his approval, he would lay his ears flat and back up, away from whatever small creature was being presented to him. Truly you could tell he was disgusted by it, but you had to wonder after awhile if Tasha realized that and kept bringing him gifts just to annoy him.
I think back to those days and to my kitty who I loved so much. He loved to lie on his back upside down on my legs and have me rub his belly. He would purr and get that stupid “Tiger” grin on his face. He lived to be 19 years old and finally died peacefully in his sleep. He rests now in my parents back yard.
Yeah, he didn’t really know he was a cat. I’m not sure what he thought he was, but I know it wasn’t a cat!