I remember very well the day in winter of 1996 when I went to collect you. You were lounged nonchalantly on a bed in a small townhouse in Bray where the owner had christened you Florence. You were about 3 months old.
I took you home to our little rented house in Blackrock where our then 10 year old daughter rechristened you Tiger. You lived an indoor life for a few months and then we all moved a few miles further south when we bought our house in Shankill. Do you remember the endless entertainment your still kittenish self had with the hidden water sprinkler in the back garden of our new house?
In Shankill you were on hand to welcome home our babies, Roisin in November 1998 and Mia in September 2000. You also knew my father, Michael before he passed away in 2002.
Then one day you were gone. I called and called you. We searched our neighbourhood. I drove up and down the nearby motorway looking for a body. All in vain. You had just vanished. We were all sad as the realisation gradually dawned that you were gone. But life was busy – with two babies, a teenager and both Paul and I working hard. By now our family had expanded to include another cat – Simba.
On a Saturday morning, some months later, I arrived half asleep into the kitchen to find you were back. Sitting up on the high stool and meowing your head off, clearly telling me of your adventures which hadn’t seemed to have taken any toll on your beautiful appearance. We were delighted and stunned and never ever discovered where you went for those missing three months.
We moved again in 2002 to this house in Cabinteely and the following year added another two cats to the household. But you Tiger were always the matriarch. Beautiful, elegant and slightly aloof. You were no lap cat preferring on occasion to sit beside someone but rarely on a lap.
When Dylan the dog joined us five years ago, it was you Tiger who very definitely taught him that he was the very bottom of the food chain in the house and that cats rule! You taught him well – he has never forgotten.
You were so affectionate. Like lots of cats – an open book or newspaper on the kitchen table was a signal for you to come and make yourself the focus of our attention instead of our chosen reading matter. You would head butt the paper and wind yourself around a book making reading or doing homework a challenge.
You were always here Tiger. As you got older the outdoors was fine for an hour or two in the sun on mild days but what you really loved was to curl up on your blanket under a radiator.
Your other favourite thing was to sit on the back of the chair and look out the front window where you could watch the neighbourhood comings and goings. You also had a handbag fetish and loved nothing more than investigating a good handbag – the more expensive the bag the more you loved it. More than a couple of friends left this house with their designer handbag covered in cat hair!
Like many of us in this house, you were a great talker. You knew your name and often responded to being spoken to with a series of meows. Those meows took on added impetus in the morning when you demanded to be fed at once! Paul was your food slave! And like Simba, you loved it when I started preparing dinner. You sat on the floor to the left of the cooker (while he took up position on the right) and waited till I dropped a piece of chicken or some other tasty morsel. Sometimes you stretched up and tried to hook a piece of meat for yourself!
Your last year or so were marked by your inability to groom yourself as effectively as you would have liked but that meant that we could give you a girly grooming session in the garden which you loved. Only last weekend we spent about 30minutes together at the picnic table at the end of the garden and as I brushed your coat you purred your pleasure.
In the last week or so we knew you were fading Tiger and we vowed that as long as you were comfortable, eating and sleeping we would not force any intervention. That stage came to an end yesterday when we knew you were no longer comfortable. It was an unbearably sad morning as we all spent what we knew were our last hours with you. But ever the lady and a cat who always knew her own mind you spared both of us the trauma of euthanasia in the Vets surgery as you breathed your last in the car beside me.
Tiger you were witness to all the events, big, small, happy and sad of our family life over the past 16 years. Your constant presence in our home is no more but you remain in each of our hearts and our memories.
Tiger Sherwood Scully, cat, friend, part of our family left us on Saturday 25th August 2012.
Cats are synonymous with female energy, magic and the moon…
I hope Tiger that somewhere you are winding yourself around the legs of one Mr Neil Armstrong and that you might find a celestial kitchen table where you can sit and he can regale you with tales of how it felt to walk on that moon! You’d like that!