It’s been well over a month since my beloved cat Igas passed away. But don’t worry, this isn’t going to be a sad post, rather, I’d like to pay homage to the truly unique feline friend I had the privilege of sharing my life with, by writing down some of his story and funny traits.
He first came to me as a foster, having been in a high kill shelter after his humans failed to pay rent and provide for their 52 cats and two dogs (yes, fifty two – and they started out with only three un-neutered and un-spayed felines, by the way.) I was told he was a problem cat, having already been returned from an adoption because he was dangerous. Being the typical girl in my early twenties, I didn’t find this news particularly relevant, and didn’t even flinch at the notion of taking care of such a character.
I already had my black cat Squish and another fairly recent rescue, so I couldn’t give this guy free access to the whole flat. Instead, I placed this scrawny, brownish cat in a separate room that I prepared for him. I wasn’t expecting him to be happy with any type of accommodation, considering he was so mean, so I wasn’t too worried about potential issues of loneliness – I half imagined this guy as the feline equivalent of Dirty Harry, the solitary bad arse who didn’t enjoy anything but shedding blood.
When we got home, I placed his carrier in the middle of the room, opened the door and stepped away to a corner. I wanted him to know I was no threat, but I also needed to assess his behaviour. Lo and behold, he comes out, sniffs the air a bit, turns to face me, and… flops on the floor, exposing his belly and yawning. It looked like an open invitation – an invitation to kill me, that is. I was sure it was a trick, yet I was so enticed by that ridiculous belly (he had recently been neutered and a large part of his backside had been shaved, and the fur was growing back in sorry brown matte clumps). I just had to approach him and see what happened.
Well… he was the most violent feline I had ever seen. NOT. He was purring even before I laid my hands on him, and that inner motor just kicked up a notch when he felt me kneel next to him. I threw caution to the wind and just went for it, cuddling that tired body for what seemed like the longest time – he was happy for the first time in a long journey, and I was in love.
This cat was the most trusting guy I have ever met, because exposing his belly to every human he ever encountered, and purring, was just his normal way of saying hello. To everyone. Even the vet! No feline self-esteem here. Incidentally, that’s how he got his name: Igas. It’s pronounced “eeh-gash,” and don’t worry if it sounds weird to you, because it’s weird for everyone. It doesn’t really mean anything, it’s just the contraction of the word “barrigas,” which in Portuguese means… “bellies.”
This tiny photo bellow was of that magical first encounter. Note the fierceness. Hah.
With time, he went from skinny and brown-haired to a (very) well fed proud owner of a shiny black coat. He never knew how to head butt/rub against people like other cats seem to know instinctively, so he just wrapped his tail around your legs to show he was happy. And boy, he was happy all the time. Igas was a loud purring machine, and even when he was spending his last days at the vet, undoubtedly in pain already, he always purred on my mother’s lap when she visited. His vet said that in twenty years doing his work, he never knew a cat like him. My furry baby was truly special.
I have in the meantime spun some yarn that I will knit into a shawl to bury him in. It’s my one last act of love. When Igas passed, we believed he was around 12 years old. Of those, he spent around a decade with us. I count myself proud to have had the privilege of his company.
Rest well, my friend, I will see you again someday.