In addition to a ridiculously huge dog, our family also has a cat named Iggy. Other cats have come and gone from our lives, but Iggy has been with me longer than my husband, my kids, or really anyone who isn’t a blood relative. Unfortunately, at 15 years old, Iggy has become very sick and we’re not sure if he’s going to make it much longer.
I first met Iggy in a part of my life that is so different it’s almost like another life. I had recently graduated college and was working and in my own place. By coincidence, my apartment allowed me up to 2 cats. My first cat was Grendel, a female orange tabby cat with delicate little paws and a round belly. She had tiger stripes and a leopard spotted belly and had traveled 3 hours from my brother’s farm to my apartment, with much annoyance. The next year, I met Iggy. He was part of a fall litter on my brother’s farm, which meant that he and his siblings were not likely to live through the winter in Illinois. When I picked him up, mostly feral, and tried to pet him, I saw that he also had a leopard spotted belly…with that, my two cat quota was met and he came home with me.
According to my brother, Iggy was weaned, but he didn’t seem to remember this. He needed to be bottle fed kitten milk from the vet and he slept on my chest, just as my future children would. In his long life, Iggy has lived in Illinois, Florida, and Alaska. He has traveled about as far as anyone can on an airplane, meowing regularly from under the seat in front of me. He has patiently endured the loving attentions of both my children. When I left my ex with just the kids and what I could fit in my truck, Iggy and Grendel were among the things in that truck and I knew Mr. Safek’s commitment to me was absolutely serious when, while I was at work one day, he moved both cats to his apartment so that I wouldn’t miss them anymore when I visited him.
Iggy never shared us well with any other cats besides Grendel. He’s tolerated Sam the dog well and they both have an interesting sibling rivalry kind of relationship. Every time we’ve had to take Iggy to the vet, though, Sam has whined to see his buddy packed up in the pet carrier and been excited each time he’s returned home.
It’s becoming clear that soon, he won’t make the return trip.
Iggy is the cat who would patiently endure being dressed up in doll clothes and pushed around in a stroller and would still come and cuddle with the kids as they napped. He is the cat that napped on my pregnant belly and gave me dirty looks when that belly kicked him. He’s the cat that comforted me after my divorce and who wore a tiara with only a bit of grumpiness. He accompanied me on my flight to Alaksa, almost 5 years ago and he kept me company for the long month I was here all alone, cuddling with me for warmth at night and making faces at the snow. He reminds me of any number of tom cats I befriended on the farm as a child, cats that would tolerate my over-enthusiastic affection and accompany me on adventures in our big yard, cats that would nap with me under the pine trees on sunny days.
Everyone should have at least one cat like Iggy in a lifetime and I’ve been fortunate enough to have several, but cats only live so long and Iggy’s kidneys are wearing out, along with his cataract dimmed eyes. It just doesn’t seem like he is meant to make another big trip with me.
Thank you, Hashem, for giving me such a good friend for that chapter of my life and may his last days be blessed with warm sunny spots to nap in, ear scratches galore, and lots of love and comfort.