I’m a dog person, I swear. However, while I lived in NY after college my coworkers thought I was a cat person, as demonstrated by various gifts I received. I understand their belief in my being a feline aficionado because I would continuously tell about the adventures of my Dad and Stepmom’s cat, Tigger.
What most people didn’t know was I used to hesitate around cats. As a child my Mom had a ferocious-looking cat named Mousetrap. When my Stepmom joined the family her cat Whiskey also seemed decidedly unfriendly. In addition my Step-Grandma’s cat Moshie also discouraged my overtures. By that time Mom had two other cats, Rat and Kitten, but the damage had been done. Also, we had four rambunctious puppies who chased cats, resulting in the cats being separated from us (they were much friendlier than the other three I mentioned). To be fair to these intimidating creatures, my sister had no problems with Mousetrap and I think she managed to befriend the other cats. However, she is definitely a cat person – a strong indication my liking dogs may be hereditary rather than merely behavioral.
After Moshie’s death, Vivian (my step-grandma) eventually lured two cats into becoming permanent pets: Blackie and Tigger. While Blackie demonstrated a sweet disposition, Tigger induced my metamorphosis into a “cat lover.” Originally named Junior, Tigger first visited my family as a kitten living next door, and we enticed him to leave his owner (an eleven year-old boy) to become a major household fixture.
This guy charmed the heck out of everyone! All our neighbors knew Tigger thanks to his leaving dead rodents as gifts in addition to hanging out in their more formal gardens. Friends and family quickly came to adore this feline. He was a large cat who made everyone smitten. Piggy hunted birds, insects, rodents, and our fish Clyde! One day he fell into the tank while balanced on the edges (no screen blocking any attempts on his part). I did not see him during this adventure, but I could so easily imagine everything. Tigger was also impressively flexible.
I’d twice seen Tigger curl himself into a ball to groom his rear end, and his back feet were almost touching the ground behind him while in this ball! He had huge paws, and we’d joke that he had an octave stretch.
We often called him Piggy, Piggers, etc. because he tended to gorge on food. At one point a cousin was living with my folks, and Jeanne had a difficult time placing Piggy on a diet. She soon discovered that Richard succumbed to the pleading for food by Pigs as the first to arise in the morning. When Jeanne discovered Piggy was being fed by both her and Richard, she did manage to gain some control of the situation. Later when I visited, I would write Jeanne a note telling her Piggy had been fed so she wouldn’t be fooled by his crying. Dad, Jeanne, and I were talking about these notes one day, and Dad accidentally confessed to feeding the me-oinker after Richard had fed him (not knowing that Tigger had already conned Richard). Thus, Tiggs had managed to get three breakfasts a day. No wonder he gained weight!
We regularly had fun creating comments regarding Tigger’s gluttony. Dad would say Tigger didn’t meow, he me-oinked, and I finally hit on the nickname Pigzilla, due to his size in addition to his appetite and enjoyment of hunting. Tigger figured out a way to expedite his feedings. He would first sit on your chest and purr in your face. For step two he would pat your face with his paws (claws sheathed). If you remained stubborn, he’d then comb his claws through your hair –an unsettling feeling. If you returned to bed after feeding him and left your door open, Pigzilla would finish his meal and try again! At that point I pretended I would feed him only to shut the door after he led the way.
Piggy had a swagger to his step and protected his area from everyone. This Christmas (after Tigger died last summer), a new UPS delivery person asked us what was up with the cat. Jeanne and I thought she was referring to the cat who comes around now, whom we call Snaggletooth or Snaggy, so we ran outside to see what was wrong. It turns out the UPS person was asking why one of her coworkers had told her to watch out for the attack cat! On his frequent delivery trips Tigger would hiss at him to let him know exactly who was boss.