An elderly ginger cat who became a viral sensation when he found a forever home while gravely ill has reached his 22nd birthday.
Tigger, who was adopted last year by Adriene Buisch, 31, a marketing coordinator at Charm City Veterinary Hospital and former Baltimore Ravens cheerleader, became an online star when his owner crafted him a bucket list after learning that he was suffering from kidney failure and an inoperable tumor.
Back then he was given just months to live, but here he is, over a year on and still going strong. In honor of that fact, Tigger celebrated his latest milestone with a festive hat, a bow tie and a three-meat cake.
Birthday boy: Tigger, a Baltimore cat who went viral last year when his owner made him a bucket list, has defied his illness to turn 22
Big day: Tigger’s owners celebrated the big day by making Tigger a three-meat cake with tuna, ham and chicken
Adriene first met the then 21-year-old Tigger after learning about him on a community Facebook page. She and her boyfriend Michael Trentadue were already parents to one tabby named Stuart.
The senior, ginger cat had been abandoned at a Baltimore shelter where he was unlikely to be adopted due to his age.
‘When you have a cat like Tigger that had a home for 19 years to end up sitting in a cold cage for a year, it was like he was broken when we got him,’ Adriene told Today. ‘Now we get to watch him enjoy life to the very end.’
If Adriene hadn’t found him, it’s likely he would have been put to sleep.
‘Next thing you know I’m calling the hospital… and heading up there the very next day,’ she said. ‘We figured we might as well give an old cat a comfy home for his remaining life while seeing how Stuart does with another cat.’
Life partners: Former Ravens cheerleader Adriene Buisch, 31, adopted Tigger after he was abandoned at a Baltimore shelter
Big kisses: When Adriene and her boyfriend Michael Trentadu adopted Tigger last year, they were told he only had a few months to live
Another life: Adriene was once a Baltimore Ravens cheerleader, but now works as a marketing coordinator at Charm City Veterinary Hospital
Brothers: Adriene discovered Tigger when she went looking for a cat to provide company for her and her boyfriend’s then-six-year-old cat Stuart
So, totally charmed by Tigger, they took him home.
But the old boy had matted fur, and was very thin for his size and, despite them putting him on a diet to gain weight, was guzzling around a gallon of water per day. So, Adriene took him to the vet to have him checked out.
Sadly, she was informed that poor Tigger was extremely ill. His kidneys were failing and they subsequently discovered that he had a tumor the size of a golf ball. He would only have about nine months to live, the doctor predicted.
The vet then asked if, knowing all this information, that Ariene wanted to keep him. Her answer was an emphatic yes.
Bad news: After taking Tigger to the vet, Adriene learned that his kidneys were failing and he had a tumor the size of a golf ball – giving him only nine months to live
Keep moving: Adriene decided to keep Tigger for his final months, and give him the best experiences she possibly could
Day in the sun: Tigger has been to Bethany Beach in Delaware, where he walked in the sand and sunbathed
Getting around: Tigger has become something of a local celebrity in his native Baltimore
‘Though he is in kidney failure and we found a tumor, he kicks it like a 12-year-old. So we created a bucket list for our old man Tigger,’ she told the Baltimore Sun at the time.
Last year, on Thanksgiving weekend the little family took a trip to Bethany Beach in Delaware, where Tigger was able to paw through the sand. He has also toured around his home town of Baltimore in a sat sling, becoming a bit of a local celebrity along the way.
Fans from across the country have sent him gifts from food to catnip toys. However, Adriene claims that he enjoys the boxes that they come in even more.
At 22, the couple are still not sure how much more time Tigger may have left. He has put on weight, which is a good sign, but his tumor has also gotten bigger.
Either way, they plan to always ‘smother him with love’ until the end of his days.