My wife loves animals and animals love her. Wild animals will often approach her without fear, and wild birds have even landed on her. In my case they don't land on me, and when I am around flying birds, I try and always wear a hat.
Many years ago, my wife took a class at the Portland Zoo. They had her help with an African lion cub for several months. I would write more about this but my wife won't let me.
"Bill The lion story is MY story and it is not yours to tell," said my wife.
I mentioned the lion as a segue for me to tell the story about my wife and her tiger. My wife has an adult tiger. He is for all of his size a very fierce creature. This Tiger is about six or seven years old, he has the softest fur, and is very shy. He also weighs no more than five pounds.
Some years back, my next door neighbor was married to a man who did not like cats and would not allow her to have one. Sadly, the man died. After he died, one of the first things that she did was acquire a cat. It was a female calico and it was not long before the animal had a litter of kittens. My neighbor was overjoyed with the kittens, and showered them with love. Time passed and the kittens also had kittens, and none were given away. A cat's gestation period is somewhere between 60 - 68 days making it possible for a cat to have a litter several times in a year. I am not sure what you would call a group of cats. Wolves run in packs, lions run in prides, and these cats ran in crowds. It was not long before my neighbor had more cats then she could care for. Some became quite wild. Her daughter, the neighbors, and my wife all helped her give the tamer animals away. We also helped her arrange to spay what ever animals that we could catch.
She still had a large number of animals, and they had to be fed. Several of them "adopted" us. Some preferred our place to the crowded conditions next door and would often sit at our back door begging for food. One thing that I have often been told is that you should never feed a stray cat. If you feed them, they are yours. I told my wife that "She better not feed any of those animals."
It was embarrassing when she caught me slipping scraps to a few of them.
My wife glared at me: "I thought you said that we had better not feed them?"
"No, I said you shouldn't feed them. I didn't say anything about myself." I continued. "I felt sorry for them. They really looked hungry. You wouldn't want a cat dying on us would you?"
"I think we have a couple of cats." remarked my wife, who I discovered later had been slipping them food as well.
The problem with feeding cats outside is that you also end up feeding other animals as well. Not only did we feed other cats, but we also fed opossums, raccoons and other stray critters that might wander on to our back patio.
Tiger was born to one of our neighbors cats. My wife was first introduced to him, when he was just a small kitten. He was the runt of the litter, and the lady next door did not think that he would survive. My wife volunteered to help out, she fed him with an eyedropper. Evidently she was successful and he managed to grow to maturity. He was never a large animal, but he never let his size slow him down. In order to survive, he had to compete with a number of larger cats. In a sense, nature provided him with a certain amount of assertiveness training and Tiger seemed to have little or no fear of other animals.
Life wasn't always good for this little cat. Like most cats, he loved chasing things. In a moment of youthful exuberance he chased a leaf. It floated through the air and without looking Tiger threw himself at itů right in front of a moving car.
Tiger suffered from a broken jaw, and crushed ribs. The little animal had to have surgery and special care. It took a while for him to heal, but heal he did. At his first opportunity, Tiger was once again in our back yard chasing leaves and butterflies.
For some reason, Tiger decided to attach himself to my wife. It is my belief that he had a vestigial memory of her feeding him when he was very small. It was evident that he preferred her to other humans, including me. Tiger would let me pet him, but that was it. If I called him, he would ignore me; let my wife call and he would respond immediately.
"Hey tiger" I would say. "Want to come in the house?"
The cat would look at me and using his kitty body language would say "Who do you think you are?... just stuff it; get lost!"
My wife would only have to beckon toward him and he would dash in her direction. People don't own cats. Cats own people and she belonged to him.
In many ways, Tiger was (and still is) a very shy animal; he is very fearful of strange people. Someone will visit or knock at our door and Tiger will quickly run upstairs and hide in our bedroom closet. He will often remain in the closet all day, until the "stranger" is gone. I have to watch how I conduct myself as well. If I move too fast, he will be gone in a flash and will end up hiding in his closet.
The silly cat may be afraid of people, but certainly has little fear of anything else. My wife will often leave food on our back porch to feed cats and critters.
One evening I was greeted by a scream from my wife.
"What's wrong?" I asked.
"Tiger!" said my started wife. "Tiger just attacked a big raccoon. It was on our back porch, and he jumped right on its' back. "
"Is Tiger all right?" I asked. "A raccoon can do lots of damage."
"Tiger is fine" replied my wife. "The raccoon didn't know what hit him. I yelled, and he was off like a shot. Tiger chased after him until he was part of the way across our yard."
I remarked: "Stupid Cat. I bet he thinks that he whipped that raccoon. That raccoon could have turned him into catburger."
My wife smiled. "My yelling helped, but Tiger did chase him off."
Tiger pawed at the door and my wife let him in. He walked in with his tail upright strutting in cat fashion. You could tell that he was very proud of himself. His five pounds of fury, had just bested a monster animal.
We made over him. We offered him kitty treats, and then after he was convinced that he had enough adulation, retired to our bedroom.
William Blake wrote:
Tiger! Tiger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
My wife has a tiger. Her tiger is wilder than the Zoo's lion; who was, by comparison, a real pussycat. Her tiger is the fiercest animal of all.
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