Friday, July 24, 2015
I had to put Sam, the cat, down last week.
I don’t know exactly how old he was became he came into the house as an adult in 2008.
But he occupied my front porch for years prior to that, a more or less permanent resident who wandered off only to seek a meal from one of our more generous neighbors.
From the start, he was the sickliest cat anyone could imagine. He drooled constantly, and had a constant crust around his mouth and eyes.
This made his friendliness somewhat uncomfortable since he loved sitting in my lap, and would often stick that stinking face into my face, the stench of which nearly made me ill.
When he got too bad, we would take a moist rag and wipe away the crust and drool, a cleanup that lasted almost a whole day before he reverted to his usual form.
Other cats loved Sam, especially wild kittens, who often took refuge with him during cold days in order to keep warm.
He became their godfather, and had no real enemies in the world. Opossums, raccoons, skunks, even most dogs generally passed him by, and he made no hostile advances at them.
He had the vacant stare of an innocent right to the moment the vet injected him in the end, something that made him feel very human to me.
For a time, he shared our porch with a cat we called “Crazy,” who got his name for acts that seemed odd such as sleeping on top of cars and such. Crazy was scared of thunder and lightning, and so I often sat with him and Sam on the front porch to comfort them during summer squalls.
In the spring of 2008, Crazy took ill, and we brought him into the house for a time, but we could not save him. This made me fear for Sam and so we brought him in as well, took him to the vet and got a regiment of medicine to help deal with the drooling and nearly constant upper respiratory diseases he suffered.
In those says, he refused to leave the kitchen, living his life day and night on the kitchen table. When I brought in a soft chair, he took up residences on that. Later, he discovered the bedroom and adopted that as his new abode.
This is not to say that he didn’t have quirks. He tended to sleep beside me at night, waking me up with his combination of purrs and snorkeling. In the morning, he let out a wail to wake me up so I could feed him, and generally knew when he ought to get fed at night, wailing until I put a dish down in front of him.
In 2010, he started to stagger. He could not keep his balance. We thought he’d had a stroke. But when we took him to the vet, we learned that he had suffered a severe inner ear infection that affected his perception. He was perpetually sea sick, and apparently saw everything in duplicate. Medicine eventually cleared this up, but left him with the nick name of Seasick Sam.
A few weeks ago, he came down with the same condition, and we got him to the vet who repeated the regiment of medicine. Still he struggled to get off the bed and to feed, but bravely did both. Then one morning, something happened and he suffered a real stroke. The progress he had made over the previous few days vanished, he could not even stand up, although still purred when petted.
But he wasn’t going to recover easily or soon, and would need to be carried everywhere if he wanted to eat or pee, and we realized this was not quality life, and keeping him alive largely left him to suffer, even though technically he wasn’t in pain.
Sam was a special cat because he was indeed innocent, and had made no enemies in life, and so mercifully, we put him to sleep, hoping we might meet again in some other world where there is no pain.