I came home from Nationals on Saturday and was greeted with my furry friend. He stuck close to me as I unpacked and showered. He was at my feet in the office while I caught up on email and downloaded pictures. I knew he missed me – he always did when I was away.
Sunday we drove to East Texas to pick up the kiddo. We were gone all day. That morning, Sampson was his normal kitty-self. He woke us up at the crack of dawn with his meowing because his bowl was nearly empty. So I got up and fed him and we started our day.
The three of us got home close to 8 with Taco Bell in hand. Sampson greeted us, like usual, but something was off. I noticed it right away. He had left me two “presents” on the floor. I figured he was mad his box was dirty and I had been gone so much. Then I noticed something else. He was breathing hard and panting. His nose was dry. He wouldn’t eat or drink water. He also sounded very raspy when he breathed.
We went to bed, but he wasn’t doing well at all. I got up early the next morning and found a 24 hour clinic in Grapevine to take him to. It was on the edge of Southlake, and the husband said he would be in really good hands there. I figured it was an upper respiratory infection, they’d give him some meds and we’d be on our way. They took him back immediately and then we waited for a little while. I had the kiddo with me. The vet came back and said he had a lot of fluid on his lungs. He couldn’t hear his heart. So they wanted to start him on some meds to ease the pain and they’d already put him on oxygen. They also did a chest x-ray and bloodwork. I had to leave him there and wait for them to call.
That afternoon, I got the news. He had an enlarged heart. The vet thought either lung cancer or heart disease, neither of which were really treatable. The prognosis was very poor. The vet said cats are masters at masking their symptoms and he’d probably been sick for a while – we just didn’t know it. I’m still stymied by how fast it came on and how sudden he was deathly ill. It’s just not fair.
He told me my choices, which were all grim and one cost thousands of dollars. I knew I couldn’t do that. I just don’t have the funds. And as much as it pained me, I knew what I had to do. So I told the vet to prepare Sampson and I would be there shortly to say good-bye.
But that wasn’t even the hardest part. It was having to tell my 9 year old son that Sampson wasn’t going to make it. He sobbed. “I even prayed for him, Mom,” he said. It broke my heart. “I know you did, sweetie.” I didn’t take him with me. I didn’t want him to see Sampson like that and have that be his last memory of him.
I drove back to the clinic alone. I filled out all the paperwork and settled the bill. And then they brought in my sweet kitty. He was in such bad shape. I patted his head and he looked at me and meowed. Like he knew it was time. He closed his eyes and stretched his chin out, like he always did when he wanted me to scratch him on his jawbone. So I did. I said my farewell. In the car, I broke down.
Then I cried all the way home.
I first met Sampson in February 2006. There was a family who had to give away their two cats becuase their kids had severe allergies. When I went to see him, he came right to me, let me pet him. He was very friendly. I was in love right away. I took Sampson home in his crate – which he was very unhappy to be in. He hissed at me the first three days I had him, never leaving the crate. He finally decided I was okay. 🙂
He always followed me everywhere. He let me cry into his fur in the dark days after the divorce, when I thought my world was ending. He’d lay on my chest, put one paw on my cheek and let me pet and pet him. When he was ready for me to pat his head, he’d close his eyes and flatten his ears. He was a good kitty. He didn’t get into stuff (except when I busted him eating my ivy) and he didn’t get on the furniture (except when I found paw prints on the top of the stove). He wasn’t mischievous (except when he broke the toilet the day I moved into the house). He’d greet me at the garage door every day with a yawn and a stretch as if to say, “Hey, you’re home finally. I’ve been sleeping. How was your day?” He was my cat-cat.
To most people, cats are cats. But to me, Sampson was my furry four-legged friend. He loved naps in the sun and licking tuna cans. He was spoiled rotten and he deserved it.
Rest in peace, sweet Sampson. I will always miss you.