Marina, my wife, and her mother first met Miguel, a cat who looked like a small tiger (albeit with a white belly), in 2000. He was a few months old and starving to death. Since they did not have any food for him, they ended up feeding him some cantaloupe they had around. He eagerly ate it and had a love for cantaloupe for the rest of his life.
After feeding him and bringing him back to health, Miguel became a womanizer, very popular with the lady cats. As Marina told me the story, he was so popular, the lady cats were chasing him around. There were countless kittens in their neighborhood in Puebla that Miguel sired.
Miguel was a strong kitten. Marina told me the story of how, one day, he came in seriously bruised and black all over. He recovered from that — just as he recovered from almost starving to death — and was soon back to health.
Marina’s mother finally told Marina that Miguel was getting hurt too often fighting other cats. They ended up neutering him so he would not get in to so many fights any more.
Miguel in the mid-2000s first decade
He was a very friendly, big, albeit timid cat when I met him. I remember Marina complaining that he would not pick a fight with a possum that was stealing his food when we lived together in Cuernavaca. He usually liked to stay outside, but sometimes came inside to eat or even to cuddle with us.
He was a survivor; while Marina’s other pets came and gone, Miguel stayed around. One time, we came back from flying to Ciudad Juarez getting her green card processed; he was in the middle of what was left of the neighbor’s pool precariously floating. With great effort, Marina and I rescued him and he lived another day. Marina told me that Miguel was the longest companion she still had.
One day, Marina was upset with Miguel and told him that he was a useless cat. Miguel, taking offense at this, came in to our house that evening while we were watching a movie with a mouse in his mouth, proclaiming “I may be an old cat, but I can still be a useful cat catching mice!” Marina was so horrified that she screamed.
Miguel adjusted to living with us in the United States. He wanted to be outdoors, but since the apartment complex where we lived had a lot more people in it than Marina’s gated yard, he only came out late at night when no one was in front of our place. There was a tree in front of our apartment that he loved to scratch his claws on. Sometimes he would walk further and explore the entire area; we kept a close eye on him to make sure he was OK.
While we did not realize it, he began to get sick. The first symptom was that he became incontinent — he started, much to our annoyance, pooping or peeing on the ground or even the carpet in the living room. After cleaning up after him countless times, Marina discovered that Miguel would go in the bathroom if we left newspapers there for him to go on. This mostly resolved the issues with the messes that he was leaving.
I was laying down with Miguel in 2011
He was still good to have around. When I would sleep on the couch in the living room (sometimes needed when the baby was making a lot of noise really late at night), Miguel would almost always jump on to the couch to be with me, sleeping either at my side or on my feet.
Miguel remained a useful cat. While I was talking with a recruiter about myself and what jobs would be a match for my skills, I showed her Miguel over the videophone; she thought the cat was adorable and it helped me build a good rapport with her. Indeed, it was through that very same recruiter that I ended up getting a job with really good pay — Miguel helped me get that job.
One night, I had to go to the kitchen in the middle of the night to make some food for our crying baby. As I was up, I was pleasantly surprised to see Miguel coming in to the kitchen, just like the old days; I made him some food, but he would not eat it. Finally, I put him back in his box and gave him some water that he drank. That was the very last time I saw Miguel.
My mother very kindly took off some time to take Marina, the baby, and Miguel to the veterinarian. After I talked to the doctor on the phone, Marina and I decided that the best course of action was to put him to sleep; he was very sick and any attempt to keep him alive would have been painful for him.
Miguel was a beautiful loving cat who lived a long healthy life. His time to go had finally come. After surviving countless struggles through his entire life, he breathed his last on May 22, 2014. He was a very kind cat who I will never forget.
The pictures of Miguel were all taken by Marina and are used with her permission.