In December of 2002 Chris and I were living in Melbourne, Florida while he was going to graduate school. We’d been married about six months or so and I’d been hankering for a pet. A dog wasn’t ideal at the time and it took some time to convince Chris that a cat was a good idea for us. He hadn’t grown up with cats but I had and knew that they could be just as fun as a dog—well, at least the right cat! We went to a couple of different rescue shelters before going to the Central Brevard Humane Society to see their selection of cats. Samson was there, roaming the cat room freely with one or two other cats while all of the other cats were tucked away in their cages waiting for adoption. I don’t remember what drew him to us other than he was friendly and let us pet him easily. We found his cage and read his information which stated he was 5-6 years old and had been at the shelter for about two months already. Somehow we knew he was the cat for us!
We were hesitant to adopt him right away as we were about to head back to Texas for Christmas vacation and didn’t really want to adopt a cat and then have it fend for itself in an apartment for a week while we were gone. We could only hope that he’d be there when we returned and double checked that it was a no-kill shelter. Poor boy just needed a home!
When we returned from our trip I had to work but Chris went right up to the shelter and asked for Samson straight out. I was excited to get home that evening after Chris had told me he’d been able to get Samson easily. I remember he was a bit shy at first, hiding under and behind the couch but he quickly came out of his shell and he grew to love us and we him.
As we lived on the second floor of an apartment that was screened in, he quickly grew to love sitting on the porch for hours on end. Sometimes we’d even leave the sliding doors open for him to stay outside while we left for a few hours.
Luckily in Florida most homes and apartments come with screened in porches so we didn’t live anywhere that wasn’t accesssible to the outside via a screen. I think being outside was Samson’s favorite thing….besides maybe a giant handful of treats! Nah, I think even being outside might have topped treats.
Then, of course, there was that one time where I left the screen door cracked on the porch at our rental house in Florida. Chris had gone out for an errands and I was inside the house. I happened to be in the kitchen when Chris comes through the screen door and slides the kitchen door open holding a strange looking cat. I asked, “Is that our cat?” in a befuddled manner—I mean, it looked like Samson but from a distance it appeared to be a completely different cat. It was indeed Samson who had pushed the screen door open and managed to roll around outside in the dirt for a good awhile before being found by Chris! Luckily he didn’t wander off into someone else’s yard. He might have been filthy but I’m pretty sure he was quite content about being filthy!
Somehow he ended up adjusting fairly well to having a kitten in the house once Leo showed up on our porch. He was probably a little disgruntled for awhile—and many times over the years when Leo was more feisty than he was—but Samson was kind enough to let Leo nurse on him when Leo was just a wee two month old, away from his mom, lost and confused. We thought it was the strangest thing but mentioned it to the vet when we took Leo in for his first round of shots and they said that it can sometimes happen when a kitten leaves its mother too early.
One of his favorite pastimes was drinking out of glasses. If you had one accessible it was a guarantee that he would scope it out for a sip. Over the years I just got used to this and would go and get him his own glass, even in his final days I put a small glass on the floor in an effort for him to drink—which he did, until he wouldn’t.
And of course there was the year+ in which we dogsat Baloo and Samson tolerated living with him. Baloo loved Samson far more than Samson even liked Baloo. Samson had been declawed on his front paws when we got him but despite that he would reach down from his perch on the bed and whack at Baloo when Baloo just wanted to play. Not having claws wasn’t going to stop him from putting the dog in his place!
He was the best! King Samson, ruler of the cats in the household! Leo—he was the court jester.
Two years ago when Sam and Leo both got sick shortly after we moved into our house here in Texas is when I started worrying about Samson and how long he might live. He recuperated but never gained all of the weight back. Through the last two years he’d had ups and downs with his health, until slowly over the last six months he started urinating more on rugs and more recently on random items lying on the floor. He’d pretty much all together stopped pooing in the litter box, deciding to go just outside it instead, but I just went on about the day cleaning up after him as he was otherwise doing ok. I’d taken him in to the vet in mid-June when his urinating got out of control but blood work and kidney information didn’t reveal anything out of the ordinary.
Sometime a week and a half ago I noticed another bout of his down times and kept an eye on him. We started feeding him wet food more often, babying him a little bit more until late last week he just got a bit more apathetic with eating. He still followed us around at that point and would lick up the watered down tuna we gave him. I even went so far as to blend up his canned food a little bit with water so he’d lick up some nutrients. He wanted treats but didn’t eat them, which was definitely unusual. And then he started retreating, hiding out in different places in the house, usually on the floor and in the bathroom. Chris and I both got more worried at that point but kept trying to feed him and bring him water to wherever he decided to get situated. I’d even carry him down from upstairs at lunch and in the evenings so he could come get some food.
By Monday we knew that things weren’t going to go back up for him, though I got a little excited when he ate several soft treats I had bought at the store that evening. I would have gladly given him the entire bag if he’d wanted it but he had his few treats and didn’t care for more, which was highly unusual for him. On Tuesday it had gotten worse and his walking became very difficult. He didn’t want to be up on any furniture and preferred to get on the floor, my guess, to stay cool. He’d even stopped purring when you pet him and meowing for anything sometime on Monday, I think. It was so bad last night that we really didn’t expect him to be alive when we woke up this morning, but he was. He’d stayed downstairs all night, not being able to get up the stairs as he had been only a few days prior. I found him in the guest bathroom appearing dazed and not doing well. It was then that Chris and I made the decision that we didn’t want him to linger any longer and would help him along to somewhere on the other side of the rainbow where he’d be more comfortable. We’d been crying and worrying over it for days, knowing his time was near but not sure what to do. Thankfully we were able to get an appointment mid-morning today instead of having to wait all day.
It was probably the most difficult thing we’ve had to do. But, he wasn’t happpy or healthy, and couldn’t get comfortable. I attempted to give him water and another treat this morning to which he threw his head to the side, not wanting any of it.
The poor little boy left quickly and we were able to bring him home to bury in the backyard. We’ll be looking for a special plant to mark his place so we can visit him often.
Yesterday Chris had the idea to let him wander in the garden for a few minutes while the feral cats weren’t around. He was so happy, you could tell, his tail wagging and the sniffing he was doing. I know if he’d felt up to moving around more he would have plopped over and rolled in the dirt a bit. This morning before we left for the vet we gave him another short tour of the yard and just being outside, despite his lack of energy, was enough to get his tail wagging.
We’ll miss you bunny butt—you were definitely our ‘best old friend’. (That’s a Zoe-ism…she called him her best old friend.)