The Cat I Never Wanted
A beautiful guest blog by Tim Rymel, W.Ed.
Sam and I had a complicated relationship. After years of emphatically telling my daughters they, under no circumstances, could ever have a cat, they brought home their first unauthorized kitten when they were 8 and 6 years old. He, like Sam, was a Tabby. Unlike Sam, he was cute and fun to play with. Sadly, six months after we got him he died due to complications with anesthesia when he was neutered.
Feeling terrible about the tragic loss my children endured, I stopped by the rescue center on my way home from work the following day and picked up another six-month-old Tabby that looked exactly like the one that died. His name was Sam. They told me his family had to drop him off because they were moving and couldn’t take him with them.
That was a lie. But more on that later.
The car ride home with Sam seemed innocent enough. He didn’t care much for the box he was in, so I let him out. It was clearly his first car ride. He met it with equal parts curiosity and unfettered determination to get out as quickly as possible. This was my first glimpse into his personality as I made the horrific discovery he wore razor blades on his feet. I was as anxious to get out of the car as he was.
I expected to be met with hugs and kisses from my daughters. Instead, my 8-year-old ran shrieking down the hall wondering how the cat we buried yesterday came back to life. I didn’t see that coming. But after explaining to her that this was a new cat, she settled in and I became the father of the year…for about a minute.
Sam wasn’t one to be cuddled. Or held. Or touched. In fact, he made it very clear from the first day he got home that he had no intention of staying. As soon as he could find his way out, he’d be gone. The girls insisted that the only way to keep him safe was to make him an inside cat.
He would have none of that.
To be clear, I have never liked cats. I never wanted a cat. I despise cat litter, cat hair, cat claws, cat gifts (like the rat he brought in during the night and placed into our guest’s purse for her to find in the morning), and general sociopathic cat behavior.
Sam was mean and spiteful. He shredded my curtains, peed on my expensive Italian leather couches, fought with the dogs, and struck out at people who looked at him the wrong way. In other words, anyone who glanced in his direction. He hated that.
After six months, and thousands of dollars in damage, I picked him up and threw him out the front door. Contrary to what I was told at the rescue center, outside of our home, Sam had never spent a day of his life in a house. He was a feral cat and preferred to stay that way. I was happy to oblige.
But within a few hours, he came back. He was calmer than he’d been. I assumed he’d killed a small child and had temporarily quenched his thirst for blood. It didn’t matter. No one would ever suspect him and only I would know the truth.
Sam came and went as he pleased. When the girls tried to tag him with a collar, he’d inevitably lose it, or tear it off, or burn it in some kind of satanic ritual. Either way, it didn’t stay on. He would not be tamed. Eventually, they quit trying.
Over time, Sam spent more time inside than out. The litter box was no longer necessary. He found food in our house and, we suspect, based on his increasing weight, in one or two other houses around the neighborhood. When home, he started letting us pet him and he more frequently fell asleep on our laps, (or laptops when they were being used), or curl up next to us in bed as he purred and sucked his tail.
After my older daughter left for college, Sam, now 10 years old, became my cat. He followed me like a dog into the kitchen while I got my coffee in the morning and into my home office when it was time to go to work. He sat on my desk or in the window while I took phone calls. When I leaned back and put my feet on the desk he crawled into my lap and stayed there until both of my legs went numb. If he wasn’t outside using the restroom, he was usually with me.
My marriage is probably the only other relationship I’ve ever worked so hard to develop. It took years for Sam and me to work out our differences, get used to each other, and come to some kind of an understanding. He was the cat I never wanted and the cat I’m going to deeply miss.
Rest in Peace, Sammy. I loved you, little buddy.