Remembering Sammi (1988 - 2003)

Sam was the second cat that my first wife, Cherie, and I got after moving to Sacramento. Sam was acquired in the fall of 1988 and was officially name Samantha Josephine or Sammi Jo for short. This eventually got shortend to just Sam. She was a Persian, and had the typical flat face of a persian. This caused some issues during her life as persians with very flat faces tend to weep from their eyes. She was always needing here face cleaned up a bit. She had lovely gold eyes, and a silver gray coat with black highlights. She was not a large cat, and maybe weighed about 8 pounds at her heaviest. Sam had a very sweet, mellow demeanor, and never chased or fought with the other cats, never initiating anything. Unlike two of our other cats, she was very social, staying out with us when we were home, and not afraid to approach guests in our home and let them pet her. She was quite vocal, especially when hungry, and you could almost always get her to talk to you. Sam was also a very affectionate cat, loving to be petted, and scratched under the jaw. She will be missed very much.

Bedtime Companion

About 4 years after my first wife, Cherie, and I got married, she took a job that required working at the customer's site which could be anywhere in the country. This meant that she was only able to come home for the weekend a couple of times a month. Since sleeping alone is a little different, I used to sleep on my side, on my wife's side of the bed. One night I felt a cat jump up on the bed, and when I looked I noticed it was Sam. This was a little unusual for Sam to jump on the bed. She walked along the edge of the mattress, and stopped at about my waist and curled up. She slept there next to me until I fell asleep, and when I woke in the morning, she was gone. The next night, shortly after I went to bed, she came in again. She continued to do this for a couple years, keeping me company until I fell asleep, then going off to her own bed.

After Shower Greeter

In the morning, Sam would sometimes come in the bathroom while I was taking a shower and sit on the toilet lid, and wait for me to get out of the shower so I could pet her. She got conditioned to hearing the sound of the shower, and coming in the bathroom. This went on for some time. In our bedroom, we had put a cat scratch pole that was about 3 feet high and had a small platform on the top. This was setting just inside the door, in a a small notch in the wall next to the closet. Behind the pole was a full length mirror mounted on the wall. Sam's new trick on hearing the shower was to climb onto the platform and wait for me to get out of the shower. Then while I was dressing, she would sit there and meow, wanting me to pet her. Many times she would sit with her back to me and look at me in the mirror while I scratched her neck. This continued until it became difficult for her to pull herself up onto the platform.

Hide and Seek

Sam was always up for a game of hide and seek. The hall from the living room went down to the master bedroom, then turned left out to the garage, but also had a doorway into the office which opened up back to the living room. This created a circular track where sam and I would play hide and seek, and chase each other. I would run down the hall, and around the corner. I would then look back to see if she followed me. If not, she was usually looking at me, and if I poked my head around the corner a few times, she would then come running after me. I would then run about halfway around again, so when she got to where I was I wasn't there. I would then peek around the corner and if she was looking she would then run to get me again. This would continue for a few rounds until either she or I got tired. Sometimes she would be looking around the corner, start to come down the hall, then must have turned around, as when I took off, she met me coming the other way. Outsmarted again! Sometimes I would just run up the hall and around the corner into the kitchen and she would follow me all of the way. This usually meant a reward for her in the way of cat treats.

Cheap Toys

Over the years, like all pet owners, we have bought our cats many toys for them to play with. These included the soft ones, sometimes filled with catnip, balls with things inside that moved, balls with bells, etc. These were always good for a short time, but they soon tired of them, and they all now sit in a basket under the big cat pole/perch. Now and then one of them might knock one around, but most of the time they just sit. Years ago I was working in the office and Sam was nearby. I had taken a piece of paper, wadded it up into a ball, and threw it into the trash can across the room, which was almost full. Sam had seen this, and went over to the trash can, put her paws on the top edge, and reached up and pulled out the crumpled ball of paper in her mouth. She then proceeded to bat it around the house, from room to room, and up and down the hall for some time. I then realized that I didn't have to spend lots of money on fancy cat toys, I had an almost unlimited supply right in the office. From that time on I would create a new paper toy for her every now and then. She would chase it through the house, pick it up in her mouth and carry it to another location, rest for a minute, then start all over again. If I was in the office and Sam was anywhere near, if I threw any paper wads into the waste basket, Sam was there to pick them out, sometimes pulling over the garbage can if necessary to get the paper ball. Once in a while while playing in the hall, we would hear her meow, but it was more like a wail. I would go over to see what was going on, and she would be standing over the ball, with it just in front of her. I guess she was howling a cry of victory over capturing the ball, or she was trying to tell it to get moving so she could chase it! I never figured it out. If Mary and I wanted to get a good night's sleep, we would have to be sure and pick up any 'toys', or she would meow all night long and keep us awake.

Sam and the Possum

Sam, being a Persian, we didn't let her go outside unsupervised, and then it was only in the back yard which is enclosed, except for a few small openings in rotted boards in the redwood fence. Except for in the winter, she loved going outside and prowling around the yard. A couple of years after we had gotten Sam, we had let her and our other cat, Heidi, run around the back yard. Thinking it would be no problem, I came in the house for a few minutes, to do something, and when I got back outside I couldn't find Sam. My first wife Cherie, and I looked all over for here, but she was nowhere to be found. We looked in the neighbor's yard in case she might have slipped through an opening in the fence, but she wasn't there either. We finally gave up, and just went out and called for her every 1/2 hour hoping she would come back or come out from wherever she was. By this time it was now getting dark, and she had been missing for a couple hours. I started getting really worried, and now began to try think like a cat (hard to do) and figure where she got off to. The back of the house has a redwood deck on the other side of a sliding glass door, and I began to wonder if she could have gotten under the deck. I looked all around the edge and noticed a couple of small openings allowing access under the deck, and I knew that a possum was possibly living under there. I carefully took the flashlight and aimed it between the deck boards to try to see if I could see anything. As I got near the center of the deck, I saw what looked like fur, and realized it was the possum. I continued across the deck and then found more fur about 4 feet from the edge. On the corner next to the house there was a small opening, and after digging out some more dirt, I was able to look under the deck a little and sure enough, there she was, about 3-4 feet away, and looking scared. I would be scared too if I was rapped under a deck with a possum, as they are pretty vicious. I dug more dirt away to create an opening large enough for her to get through, and then spent the next 1/2 hour trying to coax her out. After using some food as bait, she slowly made her way to the opening, and I was able to grab her and get her out. Needless to say, after getting the possum out from the deck, I closed up the openings so neither possum nor cat could get under it. Another tragedy averted. From then on I kept a closer eye on here when she was allowed oustside.

The Doorman

When you enter through the front door of our house, there is a short wall about 5 feet high along the right which creates the entry area. Our couch is backed up to this wall. Upon my arriving home, Sam would hear the car door, and would know I am home, and jump up on the ledge on the top of this wall, and greet me as I walked in the door. Similarily, when I would leave for work in the morning, she would know it, and sit on the ledge next to the door. As I would try to open the door, and then close it from the outside, she would paw at the door as if to say 'Don't leave, stay home with me!'. When we got a burglar alarm installed, a keypad was mounted on the wall next to the door, and about 6 inches above the short wall's ledge. With Sam on the ledge when we were leaving the house, she saw us use the keypad to set the alarm before opening the door. Again, usually as I was leaving for work in the morning, Sam waould turn around on the ledge so her butt was back against the wall and the keypad, and her tail was in the way so I wasn't able to set the alarm. I would have to brush her tail to the side to set the alarm. Who says cat's aren't smart?

The Beggar

Sam was the ultimate beggar. Although she was a normal sized cat, neither fat or thin, you would have thought that we never fed her. With 4 cats in the house, we always had a large bowl of dry food out so any of them could eat as they got hungry, yet anytime someone went into the kitchen to get a snack or cook a meal, she was right there behind you meowing and begging, even though she had no idea what you were making. This was especially true first thing in the morning when my wife, Mary, would get up and go to the kitchen and start her coffee. As the first one up, Sam would relentlessly meow and hound her until she got her treats. Rather than regular food in the morning, she preferred the soft cat treats you get in the pouches. And of course she wouldn't eat them like a normal cat, she would only take them if you hand fed them to her, holding each one between your fingers and lettng her grab it. They would crumble as she chewed them creating crumbs that fell on the floor, but after I gave her the last treat, she would always clean up the crumbs on the floor.

Most meals at our house are eaten at the couch as we have a unique coffe table that raises up and back towards the couch, just for this purpose. As we would sit down to eat, Sam was right there next to me begging for a bite. She would meow, and if I tried to ignore her, she would paw my arm to let me know she was there and hungry! Of course if she was going to get something, she would not take it unless I held the food in my fingers, and then she would carefully take if from me. Several times though in her haste, especially if it was something she really liked, she would catch a finger. If Sam was unable to get a good initial bite on the food as she took it from my fingers, she would hold it for a second, then kind of flip her head up while releasing the food, then take it further in her mouth, kind of like a dog that has a biscuit put on top of it's nose.

Sam always begged no matter what it was we were eating, but after she got a smell of it sometimes decided she didn't care for it.The other times, some of which were her favorites, she was relentless until she got a couple of samples. Her favorites included chicken or port chops that had been grilled on the BBQ, popcorn, french fries, and cheese to name a few. She was always willing to try almost anything, and ended up liking most.

The Talker

Being a very social cat, Sam was always quite vocal, especially when it came to begging for food. But she would also talk to you at other times as well. Sometimes just looking at her would cause her to give a meow back, but she was especially good at responding. Although I never really learned the meaning of the different types of meows, I was pretty good at mimicking them, and she would always answer back. Many times I was able to initiate the conversation with a short 'meow', and she would always answer.

The Great Cat Box Cover-up

Although her catbox skills seemed to be adequate the first half of her life, in the last few years she seemed to forget them. Whenever she needed to urinate, she would step into the box, and stop right there with her butt next to the side. Instead of crouching down a bit, she would stand there and as she would go, the stream would just clear the top edge of the box and land on the floor, after which she stepped out of the box without even thinking about trying to cover it up. After this occurred a few times we got smart and put a large garbage bag under the box, which helped very little, as the plastic is fairly porous and the liquid eventually seeps through the bag anyway.

Sam going '#2' on the other hand would never stop keeping us amused. After climbing in the box and finding a suitable spot, she would do the 'duty', and then proceed to try to cover it up. But instead of pawing at the litter and moving it, she would paw at the top edge of the box, never coming close to the litter. She would keep this up for about 15 - 30 seconds, and then after deciding that she was done, would step out, and go about her way. Every time we heard a scratching at the box, we knew it was Sam, and couldn't hepl but laugh as she pawed at the air. Calling to her didn't help, as she just looked at us like 'what do you want?' and continued on.

During the last few months while she was battling a urinary infection, apparently she felt like she had to go alot. Sometimes after a '#2', she would get out of the box, take a few steps over to the carpet, then proceed to set her butt on the carpet with her back legs sticking out in front of her along the floor, one on each side of her front legs. She would then pull herself forward along the carpet using her front legs, using it to 'wipe' herself, all the time leaving a small brown streak behind her. It was pretty funny to watch, but always left me cleaning up after her.

The Couch, Sam and Me

The last couple of years, Sam became very attached to me and anytime I was sitting or laying on the couch she would need to be on me. If I even sat down she would get up and climb up on my lap, and stand or eventually lay down. This became a ritual every morning as I sat down to read the paper. As soon as I opened the paper, a head would come poking up under the bottom of the paper, and she would then crawl under and onto my lap. If I would lay down on the couch at night while watching TV, she would crawl up on my chest and lay down, and curl up. She would sleep there for an hour or two or until I had to get up for something. If I was working on the computer and wasn't available, she would sit on the couch, facing the back towards the office, and meow over the couch calling to me. After she got no response she would go lay on or near my current wife Mary. But as soon as I came in the room and lay on the couch, she would climb off of her and come over and lay on my chest. My wife always got a kick out of that, and would say, 'Oh, oh, Dad's here!. Time to change places. We know who her favorite is!'.

Head in the Glass

During her final few months, Sam's kidneys were failing her, and couldn't concentrate the urine. This caused her to have to use the box quite frequently. Consequently it also caused her to drink alot more water which meant frequent trips to the water bowl located in the kitchen. Since her favorite spot was on the couch, she had to jump off the couch and walk out to the kitchen to get a drink. One day I had left a large plastic glass of water on the coffe table, but it only had a small amount of water in it. Sam had walked from the couch onto the coffe table, which was only about one foot apart. She noticed the glass and stuck her nose into the glass to see what was in it. Not being able to reach the water at the bottom, she moved on. A few days later, that same glass was now full of water which was about two inches from the top of the glass. Sam again got on the coffee table and checked out the glass, and this time she could reach the water by sticking her head in the glass. Once she figured this out, she proceeded to take a nice long drink. From that point on, that glass was left on the table, full to within an inch or two of the top so Sam could get a drink without having to go all the way to the kitchen. It seemed to serve her needs quite well, and never failed to amuse us.

Sammi the Waterballoon

Sam's kidney failure caused her to drink more water, but despite her efforts, she still tended to be a little dehydrated. In these cases it is not unusual for pet owners to give the pet additional fluids, sub-cutaneously, or under the skin. This is done with an IV attached to a bag of saline, and a needle is inserted under the skin. The fluid flows freely, and tends to accumulate in pockets around the shoulders and legs, making them feel spongee. When the vet told us we should be doing this every day or two, I wasn't sure that I could, but after a demonstration in the office we agreed, as it would help Sam out. We rigged a coat hanger to hold the saline bag, and hung it on the office door hinge. I would sit on the floor and Mary would hold Sam in my lap. It was up to me to insert the needle. Although I dreaded it each time, I knew it was helping. Sam was real good during the procedure and only tried to move a few times. The 200ml saline solution took about 5 minutes to flow, and when done, Sam had small pockets of fluid around her shoulders and legs. When we let her up, she always shook her head a couple of times before walking back towards the couch. When she shook her head, the water in the pockets made a sloshing sound similar to what a water balloon would sound like if shaken. The first time it surprised us, and made us laugh, but we realized it didn't hurt her, it just sounded funny. Sam never held a grudge, and as soon as I was back on the couch, she was right there climbing up on my chest, ready for nap.

Sammi - last picture 5/14/03