Tygrrr is dead. I knew something was wrong the minute I opened the door to the basement and he wasn’t in his usual spot. The size of a small mountain lion, Tygrrr never missed a meal, and usually waited on top of one of the basement book cases for his dish of food, morning and evening. Not a fat cat, just big, Tygrrr saw himself as a tiny animal, and perpetually tried to squeeze into places he couldn’t fit, a box or a shelf, but this morning, he was stretched out on the downstairs kitchen floor, stiff, but still warm, as if he had simply closed his eyes and gone to sleep. He’s the second cat to die on me this year, a sad kitten from the start, and the first of a series of kittens I took in from an outside cat called Ragzy. She was a prolific mother we could never catch, who kept popping out batches of cats, and I kept taking them in or getting them adopted. Tygrrr was a mother’s boy, and when I managed to get him into our basement library to isolate him until I could get him his shots, he was so miserable for his mother, I had to let him out again, only to catch him later. Hashy, the downstairs cat who I had brought in earlier as a fully grown and wild cat, felt so sorry for Tygrrr, he forced open the library door and adopted him, and was soon joined by two other Ragzy kittens from two later batches, Little Bit and Huey, both of whom died last year of cancer. Tygrrr missed them since as his kind, they often huddled together for warmth, although Tygrrr grew larger and larger, and soon was four times their size. Finding him like I did this morning, I understood that his death was as much from loneliness as it was from illness, although I suspect it was his heart that gave out, unable to sustain his size. Had we known his personality sooner, I would have named him Lenny from the novel Of Mice and Men, because as kindly as Tygrrr was, he was also dim, one of those characters that makes his way through life without needing much except food and love, lacking ambition for anything except the company of others who might treat him well. He did not have a bad life, but would have found more happiness as the only cat, someone who might have had my full attention. As it was, he and his brothers lived their lives as a clan, always there at my feet or by my side, and when the others went, even Tygrrr’s size could not make up for the missing figures of his life. His mother also passed away a year or so ago, having lived her entire life on the street, breeding until she could no longer breed, and then being cared for by neighbors who cooked meals for her at the end. I still have one of her kittens, fully grown, but such is life that immortality is fleeting and that the best we can hope for is to find brief snatches of love the way Tygrrr did, and find someone like Hashy who will do his best to adopt us when we feel more miserable. Tygrrr was not my favorite cat (Tug was and he died earlier this year), but Tygrrr was special because he was not special at all, just a dim, wonderful, loving animal who shared the couch with me while watching TV and always came to the same place to feed – his spot now vacant in my twice-a-day routine.