Yesterday marked ten years since a tabby and white cat walked up to me in a parking lot in Coralville, Iowa and yelled at me like I'd just dissed his grandma. Despite this initial insult, I kept him, named him Sammy, and he's been with me ever since.
He was the center of my life for many years - still kinda is, despite sharing my life with two other cats and Mr. PW. It's not been all rainbows and sunshine, of course. He's part Siamese, so he's got lungs on him Pavarotti would be proud of. You should hear him project down our hallway. The phrase "howling like a banshee" takes on fresh meaning. When he's annoyed, you know it. And he's kind of... well, dumb. A lot dumb. Bless-his-heart dumb. He gets lost a lot. In his own house. We'll be in one room, and all of a sudden we'll hear him crying in another room. We'll call out to him ("Sammycat! We're in here!") and we'll hear the rapid tik-tik-tik-tik of his claws down the hall and all of a sudden his wide-eyed, worried face will pop around the doorway.
Okay, more than dumb. Stupid. And he never has really learned how to socialize. He never really learned how to make friends with any other cat we've owned. When they get too close he freaks out and hisses at them. He just gets overwhelmed by their presence. And he's hilariously, annoyingly, obsessively protective of me. Whenever Mr. PW and I sit and talk he gets upset and runs to jump on my lap and get between us. He barely tolerates Mr. PW and anyone else in my life. And he neurotically chews all the fur off his belly and doesn't know how to play and likes to stomp hard on my stomach just after I've eaten dinner and begs shamelessly and loudly every time lunchmeat comes out despite the strict division between Kitty Food and People Food in this house.
He's my little guy. He's been with me through some of the hardest, loneliest times in my life. He's an endless source of amusement. He's instant zen after a hard day. He's the first animal that was really, truly mine. He's an incredible cuddler and the fact that my little ol' self can inspire purring, drooling, and breadmaking is heartmelting.
Recently we had a food shakeup in the PW household. Wally, our middle cat, tested positive for a list of allergies a mile long (BEEF. He's allergic to BEEF) and there is exactly ONE kibble he can have. Well, Sammy decided that he was having none of it and went on a hunger strike. We thought if he got hungry enough, he'd eat. But before we knew it, he'd dropped almost four pounds. For cats, that's really bad. Not only was it about 25% of his body weight, if cats drop weight too fast, they can fatally damage their livers. So guess who won? We pulled out the big bribe: soft food. Cue hysterics and gobbling down of noms. He's starting to slowly put on weight and we're resigned to the fact that our animals eat better than we do.
But it made me notice, a little bit sadly, how old he's gotten. Of course I don't know what his real age is; best guess is that he was just under a year when he introduced himself to me, so that'd make him elevenish now. Which isn't that old for a cat, unless said cat has anxiety that prematurely ages him like my idiot. In the last few weeks all I can see is the way he moves a little slower, sleeps a little more during the day, doesn't see faraway movement like he used to, needs a little more heat in the winter. He's officially an old man now.
My brain is odd. It immediately goes to worst case scenarios and inevitable sad ends in a strange attempt to prepare me for the worst. And I just can't help thinking about that day, hopefully far in the future, when I'm going to have to say goodbye to him. The fates willing, it won't be for several more years. I've had pets all my life; i know it happens and I've experienced it. Just three years ago we had to say goodbye to our Kitten. There's no way around it. It's true, sometimes he drives me nuts. But with all his faults and aggravations, I want to hold onto him just a little longer. He's worth all the soft food he can eat.