A Clowder of One
A Clowder of One
24 April 2012
|We went to Big Bone Lick and all Sam got was this hat.|
There’s a hole in our house, in our hearts. SamCat died Saturday. He would have been 21 this August. I remember the day teenaged Professor Daughter brought home a bonus from a baby sitting job: two nearly identical tuxedo-black kittens. Because they were so alike, at first we named them Pete and RePete.
|Pete and Sam|
It didn’t take long to figure out the silent smart one was Sam (not RePete). And the sweet naive one was Petey.
To say Sam was the brains of the outfit is to understate the cat who trained The Prince Consort, Professor Daughter, and I to multi-task while we were in the bathroom. We had free hands, so we were expected to not just sit around. If he had to, Sam brought his brush to us.
He was the smartest cat I’ve ever owned. Sorry, been owned by.
He inspired the first short fiction stories I sold. My editor may have thought I had an active imagination when I wrote “Sam Ate My Homework”, but the truth is Sam had just shredded/eaten my homework (pile of papers on my desk). Sam had no patience with humans who did not pay attention to him. And books and papers paid the price.
Sweet Petey was not as cerebral. He would race from room to room, stopping with a panicked look that said. ‘Oh, no. I was supposed to be in the dining room five minutes ago.’ From his nest on the couch, Sam would wait, watching, with the look that said, ‘Whatever. And when you’re through I have important human-training exercises.’
Sam was a patter. Before he got too old to jump up and down off the bed, he slept with us. Which made it very convenient for him to pat my cheek to wake me. Serfs need waking when heating pads cycle off. Or when it’s been more than four hours since new food has been served up. If cheek patting failed, Sam applied his very long and lush whiskers for the ‘tickle-to-wake’.
|Sam and Rat|
With one exception, Sam didn’t play with cat toys, Rat a brown furry stuffed toy. He taught us Tug-with-Rat, a game requiring one of the serfs to pull Rat’s tail end while Sam pulled the whisker end. A large amount of fuss was to be made on how strong Sam was. And at the appropriate time the human was to lose SamCat was not all work, he had a favorite toy. Rat, a long furry white stuffed toy. He loved to play Tug-with- Rat. One of us serfs was required to pull one end while Sam pulled the other. A large amount of fuss was to be made on how strong Sam was. And at the appropriate time the human was to lose their grip on Rat. Sam won.
SamCat didn’t chase balls, foil or otherwise. And he didn’t hunt. Like ball chasing, that was Petey’s job. Although Sam was once or twice observed patting a laconic paw on a moth sleeping on the porch screens.
TPC was on business trip when Sam worked out how the bedside lamp worked. Tap-on. Tap-off. He waited until I’d turned the lights out to sleep. It only took me three times waking to the light coming back on to figure out why Sam was sitting by the bed, tail curled neatly around his feet, staring at me.
A couple of my brain cells collided. I turned off the lamp and waited. When the light went back on, I caught a black paw with white mittens drawing back from the lamp.Yep, Sam.
In his last years, Sam’s “OWT!” meant a stroll out the front door, down the steps, to have a nice drink from the birdbath positioned on a rock. Nothing better than Bird-Bathed-in-It-Soup. And then back in the house to his nest on the back of the couch.
|Sam - 'OWT!'|
About a month ago we looked out the front window to see a skinny old cat wobbling up the front drive. SamCat had decided to go Walk About. For the first time, he’d navigated his arthritic way through the screened porch cat door, down the steep back steps, around the house, and was headed out for an adventure.
Admittedly he only looked a little disappointed when we swooped out, tearfully clutching him close, thankful we’d seen him and rescued him before anything happened.
The years since Petey died were hard on Sam. He missed his brother. And then Nikki, one fourth of an outdoor cat family that adopted us, lost his family. It took nearly a year to talk Nikki into spending time inside with Sam and us. While Nikki was not Pete, Sam was happier again. And so was Nikki.
But it was really like Sam found us a new cat-master before he would go. After a year, Nikki was spending more time inside than out. Sam was satisfied.
Whenever I walk into the living room, the first thing I do is look over to the couch where SamCat should still be napping on his heating pad and blanket nest.
Kath-There’s a hole in our house.