Goodbye, Sammy


I am not a cat person. Although, I would proclaim many times over the years to hate cats, I don’t, but I do prefer to live in a house without cats. This disinterest in cats doesn’t stem from any particularly bad experience.  I wasn’t attacked by cats at a young age.  A cat never violated my civil liberties or, as far as I know, never gave me a bad review on one of my books.  I just never really connected with the feline species.

Sam, the feline masseuse

Then one day I fell in love with a beautiful woman who had a cat. When she asked how I felt about cats, I was honest with her about my feelings about cats, and dishonest with her when I assured her there was something special about her cat.  I somehow felt something special about her fat, black and white cat.  While we dated, I made a point to bring the cat gifts and pay special attention to the cat, blah, blah, blah.  In short, I did what every guy does who’s trying to impress a girl in the beginning of a relationship, I hid my true feelings.

The cat knew I was lying.  She bit the hell out of me whenever I tried to pet her.  She scratched the living crap out of me.  She looked at me smugly.  She hated me.  The girl became my fiancé, then my roommate, then my wife.  The cat came with us every step of the way.  I tolerated it because my wife loved the cat.  The cat and I finally reached a ceasefire accord.  She stopped biting me with vicious intent, and I stopped ceaselessly aggravating her out of spite.

Fast forward several years, I received the horrible news that due to circumstances out of everyone’s control, two adult cats lost their home, and we would be taking them into our humble and tiny abode on a temporary basis until other arrangements could be made.  Those other arrangements were never made. I now lived in a house with three cats.

One of the new cats was clued into my issues with her kind and decided that I was worthy of the occasional nip out of protest for my intolerance.  Sam, the other new cat was painfully shy.  She, it seems, had issues with my kind and her own kind.  She would prefer to live in a house without humans or other cats.  We would share a look of disdain as we passed each other in the living room.  She never meowed or bit me or even came close to me.  She just didn’t like people.

Weeks passed and I never had much contact with Sam.  I sat down to watch television and glanced over to the area she had staked out as her hangout, and she was staring at me.  I shook my head in disgust and turned back to the TV.  Several minutes later I felt something on my shoulder. Startled, I quickly pulled forward and jumped up.  Sam was sitting on the back of the couch.  She was purring.  Loudly.  Confused, I sat back down, and she immediately came over to me and started kneading by shoulders, as if she were giving me a massage.  It became a habit.  Something she would do frequently when I sat down to watch TV.  And I have to admit, it was something I looked forward to.

This cat, a member of a species I had no use for, and I bonded.  Maybe it was our mutual contempt for each other.  Maybe we liked the same TV shows.  Maybe we had mutual enemies in the other two cats. Maybe it was because we both just came to the realization at the same time that the situation was what it was.  It didn’t matter how we felt about each other, we would have to share the same living space.  We might as well make the best of it.   She would find times throughout the day to come over and say hi.  She took to lying in my lap in the evenings.  For some reason, she liked me.

Eventually, the other two cats and I treated each other with more respect.  They started to seek me out for a pat on the head or scratch behind the ears.  They must have determined that I was worthy of their attention because Sam had accepted me.  After all, she was the oldest.

Sam became ill a number of years ago, and she required daily medication.  The medication changed her personality, and she preferred almost complete isolation from the rest of the household.  Occasionally, she appeared at my side and wanted some attention, but for the most part, she just wanted to be left alone.  I gave her the space and let her be.

On Thursday, December, 16, I came home to find Sam lying on the floor in a part of the house she never entered.  She was breathing erratically and barely responded when I reached out and gently patted her on the back.  I picked her up and drove her to the vet where I got the news I expected.  She had reached that point in her illness where the most compassionate thing that could be done was to put her down.  I hesitated before I gave the go ahead.  The vet left me in the room with her by myself while I thought it over.  She was dying and suffering, but I still couldn’t bring myself to give my permission to end her life.  I called my wife, but she wasn’t available.  Sam moved slightly and I bent down and asked her if she was ready to go.  As if responding to my question, she twitched and let out a long, noisy breath.  My wife called at that moment, and I told her I thought Sam had just died, and I had to go.   I called the vet into the room, and he rushed in, quickly placing the stethoscope to her chest.  She wasn’t dead, but her heart was barely beating.  I couldn’t stand to see her suffer anymore.  I asked him to put her out of her misery.  She died before he could find her vein.  Before the vet carried her out of the room, I placed my hand on her head and told her good-bye.  I struggled not to cry.  It was a cat.  I wasn’t going to cry over a stupid cat.  I paid the bill, quickly moved to my car and just lost it.  It totally caught me off guard. I called my wife, but I couldn’t even talk.  I was a wreck.  I had lost of member of my family.

If you ask me today if I’m a cat person, I will probably tell you that I’m not.  I am, however, a Sam person.

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3 thoughts on “Goodbye, Sammy

  1. Beautiful piece, Richard. I am sorry for your loss.

  2. Oh, Sam. I have heard so many stories about you. I knew there was love in those stories regardless of some of the comments made while telling them. I know that you now are home and visiting with some of your lost friends and previous loving “owners.” Say hello to my Tony and peace be with you.

  3. I know the feeling.
    My cat, Jack, died a year and a half ago while I was on vacation in Florida, and we had him for almost ten years. I lost it and I didn’t even talk to anyone for a couple of days.

    You never really get how much you’ve bonded with a certian animal until their gone.

    My mom had a friend of hers carve a letter J out of black granite and buried him under the momosa tree.

    I cried again when I got back from Florida and saw it.

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