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Dear Tiger Lily,

I first met you when I was in college. You lived with the family across the street. You weren't fond of their children, so you visited often. When Geoff moved in, you visited even more.

I remember feeling so sad about leaving you outside because the landlord wouldn't let us have pets. Whenever we came home, you came running across the street - Geoff still swears you looked both ways each time you crossed.  I remember making you a little bed by the garage, letting you sleep in my car overnight (what seats? those were scratching posts!), and eventually letting you in at night to sleep in a little ball on our living room chair. 

You were such a silly youngster. I remember when you climbed onto the roof to tell off another neighborhood cat. How you just loved chasing the stick in the back yard - a game we have since always called "the stick game." One of my goofiest memories is looking out towards the backyard and seeing you hanging from the sliding screen door, having climbed halfway up in an effort to get inside.

 

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One day, we came home to find out the neighbors - your caregivers - had suffered a house-fire. They were staying with family while they rebuilt, but left you behind with a dish of food they refilled every few days. I remember asking Geoff, "I wonder if they would let us keep her." He didn't believe anyone would give up such a fine feline companion. But one day they came up to the house, and when I asked, they happily left her in our care. They weren't good enough for you. I'm glad you couldn't understand their human words, calling you a "slut" before you were spayed because you had 3 litters of kittens - that was their wrong-doing, not yours.

After a couple of years, we moved to a house in Tualatin with our friend Lou. We didn't know it until recently, but you befriended Lou with your loving personality and enjoyed lounging with him in his room. He recently told me he still thinks fondly of those times. I think the stairs in that house were one of your favorite toys in the world, and we loved playing peek-a-boo with you and hearing the increasingly high pitched coo you made every time you ran up them. That was the house where you gave Geoff such a scare, jumping on his chest from up high while he was sleeping. 

 

stairs

 

The Tualatin house was also the first time you had the companionship of another cat forced upon you. We brought handsome-man Ruffles home from the Cat Adoption Team one day. I did a great job at following the instructions for a slow cat introduction for about a day...then I worried the introduction wasn't working because you didn't know he was there, so I let you take a peek at him through a cracked door. The noise you made when you saw him may still be one of the saddest yowls to touch my ears. You lived fairly seperate lives in that house, but life was good.

Then came another move, back to Newberg. Between Ruffles, the neighbor cats, and a foster cat, you had more than your fill of other cats - you were happy that we found a high shelf to feed you on away feline crowds. 

 

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A year or so later, we moved again - this time to the city! Do you remember how that first night you and Ruffles were so scared that you were willing to give up your misgivings about other cats and hide under the bed together? Sweet and sad, all at the same time. That house had a big basement that was pretty fun to run around in! You were always so clever, using boxes as stairs to get to the high places you wanted to investigate. One of my cutest memories is when we found you and Ruffles in what we called "synchronized flopping" position, several feet apart, stretched across the floor in identical positions. We started to lovingly call you a trend-setter and Ruffles our little copy-cat. Years later, even when battling cancer, Ruffles would still follow you around trying out all your comfy nap spots. 

 

sync

 

When we unexpectedy had to move, we rented a house in North Portland. You and Ruffles both got a little roly poly when I decided to try and mimic natural feline eating patterns in the wild, giving you five (smallish) meals a day. Ruffles would enthusiastically clean his dish, then politely sit behind you until you finished, so that he could lick your plate clean too. A less pleasant tradition he started with you was the bathroom chase - he would sit outside the bathroom wiggling his butt when he heard you dig in the litterbox, waiting for the chase as you ran from the room. He never hurt you, and in fact would often run completely the wrong direction. Even after he passed away, you still continued the tradition of the crazy post-poo sprint from the litterbox. As Ruffles' health went downhill and he was treated for lymphoma, we started to take you both out for visits in the yard on a harness. They day we had to say our last goodbye to Ruffles, we wanted you to understand what had happened, and so we brought his remains for you to see before he was taken for cremation. Though you acted as if you didin't notice him there, you  spent the next days laying in the last place where his remains had rested and we knew you missed him too. After your grieving had passed, you relished the months of being an only cat - you followed us everywhere, talking and flopping for attention. 

 

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We made one more move to a house that was all ours. I think you were used to moving by this time, because you adjusted quickly and continued to enjoy the adventure of being an only cat...that is, until the porch cat that came with the house moved in and became a part of the family. We knew how much you loved the only-cat life, but this fuzzy tuxedo cat - with no home, no teeth, an injured leg (with a BB stuck in it) and chin, and heart defects - needed a place to be. Your relationship with Maya never grew past tolerance, but I know you still enjoyed your moments of freedom when you got your regular time alone with us in the backyard. You had fun reliving the stick game, pooing in the dirt left from our shed removal, and finding all sorts of sunbeams to nap in. Your friendship with Geoff also blossomed - you helped him study Spanish, you oversaw his video editing, and you watched him with adoring eyes as he talked or played guitar. 

 

maya

 

As you became a senior, your love of belly rubs grew. You had the silliest timing, always flopping for these slow, gentle belly rubs right when it was time for us to go to bed. Age brought its challenges. Your bones and joints had more trouble carying your adorable body around. You developed hyperthryoid disease, so we had you treated with radioactive iodine. You threw up on the couch the night you got back, and I joked that we'd have to destroy the couch because it was radioactive. Your high blood pressure didn't resolve when your thyroid normalized, so we continued to give you daily medication. But despite all of this, you were loving, happy, curious, sweet, and content. 

 

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In June of 2015, we suspected you were sick. Your appetite was down and you had a harder time moving around the house. After some diagnostics and a week of treating suspected kidney failure, we determined the diagnosis was even worse - you had some kind of kidney cancer. We gave you a couple weeks of intensive treatment, but when you started to feel worse, we knew it was no longer kind to ask you to go on. I will always be grateful for the days before you passed, where we got to spend time talking to you, smelling your sweet fur, kissing your head, and gazing into your soulful eyes. And I will never forget the day - one year ago - that we took you out to the backyard for the last time to fall asleep outside in your favorite sunbeam. It was loving and peaceful, and also heart-wrenching in a way that can never truly heal. 

Tiger Lily, you have always been our sunshine and we know there will never be another like you. Your peaceful, kind spirit changed our lives, and we will always love and remember you.

 

flopsun

 

 

Love and purrs forever,

Daniela (and your BBF Geoff)