Tigger's mom was a feral stray living in our barn. We only caught glimpses of her on and off for about 3 years. She'd clean the food bowls when we weren't watching but the rest of the time was a gray-ish blur. One night when I was about 12, I came around the corner of our house and there she was with a brand new kitten still in his sack. She took the kitten into the garage and we quickly locked her in. She had 3 more kittens.
The date was March 31st. I remember going to school the next day and excitedly telling the entire class that our cat had had kittens. As it was April Fools Day, no one believed me.
All four kittens were boys...two orange and white patchy kittens, one orange tabby and one black tabby. Baby (their mother) was violently ill when they were three days old. They spent the night snuggled up with our 19 year old cat, Buddy. He was a very good mom. Once Baby was feeling better, we gave her the kittens back. She was clearly a first time mom and very inexperienced. She almost smothered them more than once. When they were about 2 weeks old, we decided to let the dog meet them. He was a very rowdy and curious young golden retriever/irish setter mix. Tigger's eyes weren't quite open yet, but we held the tiny kitten up to the dog's giant nose so he could smell the kitten. Tigger took one sniff and smacked that dog across the face with his tiny claws. The dog knew his place around the cats for the rest of his life.
Once the time came to find homes for the kittens, we asked friend and family. The two orange patch kitties (later named Thomas and Peekers) went to coworkers of my mom's. Lucky the black tabby was going to stay with us. Tigger (the orange tabby) was supposed to go to my Uncle, but his track record with cats was less than stellar and we didn't feel it was a very safe place for a kitten. In the end, we kept Tigger and Lucky together. (Their mother was spayed as soon as they were weaned and lived with us to the end of her days--she was still half wild and we were never once in 10 years able to pick her up and hold her).
A few years later, Tigger was one of our cats who was dosed with a Hartz flea product. He was very ill for a while but ended up making a full recovery.
Tigger was King of his house. He walked around proudly with his tail held high and wasn't afraid of anything. He put all the neighborhood dogs in their place and none would come near him. Even as he got older he managed to terrify our lab puppy into submission. I remember taking walks up and down our (very long, private) driveway with my "herd." Our dogs (a golden mix, mentioned above and a german shepherd mix), the neighbor's mini poodle, and Tigger. He had no idea he wasn't a dog.
He was a consumate hunter and when his brother Lucky got old and sick he would bring him "gifts." He would snuggle with him at night and help keep him warm. Lucky passed away about 18 months ago. Tigger got very thin after he died but bounced back. We thought he'd made it through the winter, but tonight my parents found him dead. He was 15 years old.
Rest in peace my sweet boy. You are loved and will never be forgotten.