By Veda Stram
In March of 1999 I went to the shelter because I wanted to adopt a male kitten. I had recently lost one of the many loves-of-my-life kitties and just wanted a new feline presence in my home. This was at a time when I still believed that to have kitties live together happily there were specific parameters that had to be met like sex and age. Since then I've been awakened to the reality that cats, like people, first of all like whom they do or do not regardless of sex or age, and second, they adjust and adapt, especially when living in my home, which is kitty paradise.
So I went to the shelter and they showed me a male kitten and I looked in his eyes and said yes. Cowering in the corner of a big cage, alone, absolutely terrified, scrunched up so much that the kitten appeared to be maybe 4 inches long, ears back, eyes flashing from side to side. The volunteer told me the too-long six-week history.
This kitten and four or five brothers and sisters, between four and five weeks old, had been brought to the shelter because their feral mother had been killed by a car.
At the shelter (I hope there have been changes), the kittens and cats were in large, very clean and nice cages with only a three-foot cement sidewalk between those cages and the dog kennels. So all day and all night (as dogs in kennels will do), if a gnat flew by or a human or dog or cat or a bird made a noise, the dogs yelped and barked. Incessantly.
When I met my new kitty, the brothers and sisters had been adopted and he had been alone in that cage, under those circumstances, for many days.
I had fallen in love at first sight, there was no question that he would come home with me. I thought SAM was the perfect name for this darling, terrified little boy.
Not being able to walk up to Sam without him darting away frantically was something I assumed would pass once he realized how safe he was with me. Weeks passed. Ha! Not to happen.
As Sam grew, I kept wondering when his testicles were going to "drop" as some doofus told me would happen because, she said, feral kittens develop differently. (Ahhh the crap we believe until we THINK for ourselves...) So it finally became clear to me that Sam was definitely not a little boy. And her personality made me very sad that I hadn't named her Gwendolyn or Marianne because she was so very feminine. Spayed at 5 months, she responded to "Sam" so I called her "Sams" as a compensation.
She just never got over her horrible kitty-hood; those first few weeks of aloness and noise and whatever she endured or thought she endured. So seldom did I get to nuzzle her soft, gorgeous bunny-soft fur. She was just always worried.
Wherever we lived, whoever our kitty roommates were, Sams was either sound asleep or alertly watching out for the next bad thing that might happen. I could never walk across the room and pick her up without speaking softly and motioning quietly that I was coming. And even then, half the time, she'd bolt away in terror. She'd sleep near me every night, every day; wherever I was, she was within a few feet. But unless I spoke to her and let her know I was reaching out to her, she'd bolt away in terror if I just reached out.
But we love them. We just do.
Her beauty, those glorious whiskers, just didn't make her happy...a lesson for humans perhaps?
She was going to be 14 years old on March 14. Late January I realized she was not her glorious pristinely clean self. And she drank less water than usual. And she wasn't as happy about eating as she used to be. And when I could pet her, touch her (which wasn't often), I could feel more and more of her bones. So a trip to the vet, blood tests, thorough exam, all seems well...January 29. With the warning that it's hard to diagnose. Wait and see.
Then a week later, still more bones protruding, less eating and drinking and pooping and peeing. Next step: x-rays. So at the vet’s on February 5, we discovered that not only had she lost a whole pound since last week’s visit (no surprise to me), in the x-ray we saw two masses, one near to and almost the size of her heart and another smaller one in her lungs. I thought about chemo and surgery and prolonging...
I chose to end her life.
I’ll put her ashes in the jar with Chloe’s ashes and Peaches’ feathers. (Read more about Chloe and Peaches...My Chloe Died Today.)
This expression as she lounges on the kitty bed was her most common look...not a happy camper. She was such a worried kitty most of her life, kinda always waiting for the next thing to be upset about.
And as seldom as she let me cuddle her in our 13 plus years together, I got to do that for several wonderful minutes while the vet gave her those shots. Cuddle, cuddle, cuddle, holding her close with my head on her chest. Cuddles the way she too seldom allowed. With my ear on her chest, I felt her heart beat until it stopped.