Is it ironic or darkly poetic, that on the day we surrendered our old out-of-state drivers licenses, and make the transition to this state more permanent, should be the same day we find 1 of our 2 cats dead on the side of the road?
W had seemed down since Thursday, which was around the time Sam disappeared. Even Max, his fellow cat transplant from our last home, seemed oddly vigilant, and we found him sitting on top of the cars or atop the old shed’s roof. We speculated that perhaps Sam had found another home, one that would allow him to once again be indoor/outdoor, instead of completely outdoors, which was currently necessary if we were to keep him while staying with the in-laws.
We adopted Sam about 1.5 years ago, approximately 2 weeks before W had his psychotic break. We were getting ready to close on our house, and were preparing to move out of the townhouse we were renting. The local animal shelter was having a special that weekend…adopt a cat or dog for only $15!! I told W we were just going to look, but while I filled out some paperwork, he and the kids came across a litter of fluffy orange kittens. One, W told me later, came right up to him. That was Sam.
We took Sam back to the townhouse, despite the no animal policy. I rationalized that since we were 2 weeks from moving, it shouldn’t be a problem. The normal W would have rolled his eye, but gone a long with it,as he is an animal lover and really wanted a cat. The paranoid, manic W saw it as a manipulative move on my part, and became more and more resentful towards me and paranoid about getting caught.
Everything happened, and Sam was there through all of it. Laying on the bed with me those nights I was alone in the house while W was still in the hospital and the in-laws had traveled back home. Walking WJ and I to the bus stop on those very dark, insanely early mornings. Being the only thing to get W to sit still on the couch during his prolonged mania, just sitting and purring in his lap. And when W swung into depression, Sam was often on his lap while W slept through the day.
We adopted Max in May, and Sam treated him like his own kitten, often washing him and allowing him to eat first out of the food bowl. Max somehow brought out the kitten we had never really seen in Sam…they would tear across the house chasing and playing with each other. When we moved up here, they huddled in the same cage, enduring a surely stressful trip together.
The more gentle of the 2, he never seemed to quite be able to make the transition to being a completely outdoor cat. He didn’t have the ‘meanness’ or pushiness to shove his way amongst the other 8+ cats my in-laws care for to get at the food rationed out twice a day. He grew thinner, unable to eat extra food like the lizards that were so plentiful in his hometown. He would often scratch at the front door, meowing mournfully, or peek his head up at the window near the kitchen sink and mew at whoever was there. He was always eager for attention from any of us. We fed him extra food when we could, sneaking it when the other cats weren’t around, lest they chase him away from it. On the warmer days he would hang out in the father-in-laws shop, quite comfortable among the machines. But as the days grew colder, he had to stay outside and make the best of it with the other cats. Although he was fixed, he started to wander a bit, probably because of the other cats’ dominating personalities. He and Max continued to hang out together, but while Max seemed to interact more the longer he was here, Sam continued to stay to himself.
I wonder, when things like this happen, so many things. Could we have done anything different? Why did he not acclimate? Why did this happen to him? Why did we have to find his body, instead of clinging to the illusion, like the kids still have now, that he just found a better home?
I feel like we’re being kicked when we’re down. W saw him as his cat, and Max as mine, since Max acts like a mush in my arms. But Sam was my fluffy orange angel, who gave me comfort when my life was going off the rails, and he certainly deserved better then being hit and killed and left to rot on the side of the road. W and his dad, thankfully, did go out and collect him, and buried him next to my father-in-law’s shop cat who passed about a year ago. That is a place of honor, and it is at least a small comfort to know his body was treated with some dignity.
I’ll very truly hope that I’ll see you again one day, Sam….