Little Tiger

On the balcony of my apartment sit pots planted with kumquats, one of which is where Little Tiger, the first cat I reared, lies buried.

Little Tiger got her name not because she was as fierce as an actual tiger but because she had the exact coat patterns like a tiger. She was a mixed-breed cat abandoned in front of the pet store which I worked for while in college. My boss, Lisa, was a kind woman with a heart of gold, so it was no wonder that she decided to take Little Tiger inside and provided her with great care when noticing a kitten meowing from a cartoon as she was about to open the store one morning.

Three distinctive differences between an adult cat and a kitten are, firstly, the latter has a round, bulged belly since its anal sphincter cannot function properly until it grows up for about three months old; secondly, the pupils of an infant cat look all black without any white of the eyes, and the last would be the interval between its two ears is wider until it gets physically mature.

So every day I had to tap her on her private part with wet tissue, helping her discharge (A mother cat would lick on the anal and consume whatever comes out. In no way would I do it), and feed her by a plastic syringe filled with easily digestible canned food. I would hold her steadily with my left hand forming a bowl-like gesture, ejecting the food gradually into her mouth with my right hand. At this time, she would be suckled, intoxicated, and purring loudly. I could feel the comfort in her and a sense of security when she was in my arms. As a matter of fact, what entertained me most in the workday was the time with Little Tiger; somehow the very same comfort and the sense of security grew inside of me as well.

At a pet store, mixed-breed pets are never for sale but for adoption, and I felt wholeheartedly happy when Lisa chose me to be the owner of Little Tiger instead of any others.

Cats live their life on their own accord, and so did Little Tiger. She never cared about whether the chaos she made could ever get on my nerves and no matter how many times I enunciated to her what not to do, she would always get it in her way, and there was no way I could do to nip anything in the bud. To her, that was just purrfect.

Cats enjoy nestling in places that keep them warm, and so did Little Tiger. Every winter, she would sneak into my bed, coil softly, and warm herself up with me. Wintertime in bed with her was always heated by our temperatures with her purring all night. To her, that was just purrfect.

Cats are curious about every moving object, and so was Little Tiger. A simple cat teaser could always drive her crazy. As it was, Little Tiger would even paw and bite a cockroach and show it off to me as if she wanted to tell me how great and heroic she was to have such a reward in her mouth. This never failed to scare me to death, but to her, this was just purrfect.

Cats take delight in spending time alone, and so did Little Tiger. Too much cuddling would make her struggle with great strength to get away from me. Moreover, she took a special liking to getting herself hidden on the high shelf or on the top of the closet just to stay away from my disturbance. Only when she needed my caress or one more serving of her favorite canned tuna food would she stretch out her head against my palms, showing her way of kindness and generosity. To her, that was just purrfect.

Little Tiger died of the pancreas cancer last May, spending 12 years with me, during which I moved a lot. A cat carrier that I used to carry her with while I was moving from one place to another was put in the storage room and is now well placed beside the pot, where she is. While I am watering the pot, her remaining hair can still be easily noticed at the bottom of the carrier. The kumquats on it grow well, and I expect they will soon be in full bloom by this summer. It is a habit with me now to leave the window open with the breezes blowing across the kumquat plants and listen to the feeble clapping sounds of the foliage of the kumquat plant, beneath which Little Tiger lies. It hurts me and makes me reminisce about the memories with Little Tiger when I realize that I will no longer have such warm company for the upcoming and following winters. But perhaps to Little Tiger, this is just the same purrfect.



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