Our beloved Samantha had her last days on earth this last week. Samantha was a special cat to our family; for Brittany, life didn't exist without Samantha. It's all that she knew: that Samantha was always here with us.
Samantha came to us in an unusual way. We don't know all of her history, although I wish that I did.
About 9 years ago, Samantha belonged to a neighbor a few houses up the street. We had playdates with this family every week, and so we got to know her a little bit that year. She had been dumped off at the end of the road, which was surprising, because she was so incredibly sweet and loving. She had once had a litter of kittens, but she had later been spayed. To drop off a spayed, sweet cat seemed unusual to us.
Samantha came to live with us after her owners up the street were no longer able to care for her due to moving and some other issues.
We kept her in our home for two weeks before we let her go outside. She only tried to go up to the previous owner's home once, that we are aware of, although she did visit the houses directly next to ours from time to time.
Samantha was a large cat; she weighed almost 13 pounds in her heyday. However, about a year ago, we noticed that she was losing weight, quickly. About six months ago, after making some attempts to fatten her up, we took her to the veterinarian because it was obvious that our sweet Samantha was ill. We were told that without bloodwork being done for around $200, she probably had diabetes, feline leukemia, or feline HIV. There are no cures for either disease, so the veterinarian encouraged us to keep her comfortable, provide her with a high protein diet (a.k.a. chicken and meat scraps), and then when it was obvious that she was no longer comfortable and doing well, to bring her in to put her down.
She had become so thin that we could feel her ribs and every bone. Figuring she only had a month or so of life left in her, we chose to get two eight-week-old kittens from a friend of ours. After we brought the kittens home, Samantha was so jealous and hateful toward them that it actually rallied her for a while! She began to eat the kitten chow, and she probably gained a full pound in a week! We were thrilled. We thought that maybe she just needed a change of pace.
After a couple of months, she began to lose weight again. She was still very hateful toward the kittens; she refused to use the litter boxes at all because of the kittens' use of them. She refused to stay in the house at night, because I think she knew that I wasn't planning to get up in the middle of the night and let her go outside to "go potty." In the evening, when we were getting ready for bed, she would literally stand at the front door and growl and growl until we let her out. There would have been no rest for me if I had ignored her and refused to let her out.
In the last few weeks, she began to become severely grumpy and mean. She swatted me hard on the back of my head and drew blood. She wasn't trustworthy to be around the girls or other children. She growled and hissed frequently; she acted like she had distemper, although that would have done her in within a few days if that had been her problem. (26 seconds into the video, she can be heard growling for no apparent reason, if your volume is turned up louder.)
Finally, it began to become quite cold at night, at least for here. The thought of a "skin-and-bones" cat being outside in the 30- and 40-degree weather made me feel like an irresponsible pet owner, even though if she had been in normal health with her normal body weight, this would have been safe for her.
Samantha began to bite and chew at her fur, her tail, etc. as if she had some mental illness. She wasn't caring for herself very well, and she wasn't keeping her nails and fur groomed like she usually did.
We prayed about it as a family for several days, and then we finally decided that it was time. Interestingly, when I went outside and called, "Treat!" and her name, that afternoon, she was nowhere to be found. Instead of running to meet us at the front door, she did not come. This was not normal behavior for her. I wonder if she knew that her end was near.
We all knew that we were making the best decision in the interest of Samantha, but that didn't make the decision any easier. The veterinarian kindly explained to the girls how cats and animals only see one day at a time, and when they wake up in the morning to a day full of hopelessness, that is what they think they will face for the remainder of their days. She also agreed with us that it was time.
I couldn't bear to stay while she received her injections, so the girls and I left the room. We all sobbed as we went out the door and into the car. I was supposed to take Kelsi to her youth orchestra rehearsal, but we were all crying. She finally decided that she could make it to the practice, even though I told her she could skip this time and stay home with us. We were a few minutes late, but she made it through the rehearsal. I think it actually was good for her to take her mind off her immediate situation.
Brittany is the one who had the hardest time dealing with the loss of Samantha. I was surprised about this; I thought it would have been Kelsi, our animal lover of the family. But no, it was Brittany. This, in Brittany's words, was because ever since she could remember, around age two, was that life was full of Samantha! I certainly understand that. She cried off and on for several days, but it got easier by day four.
We are thankful for our two sweet kittens, who are now six months old. They are precious to us, as well, and they will help to fill the spot that Samantha left.
Even though in the video, above, our Samantha doesn't look thin, she is half of her normal body weight, and she was skin and bones. Her poor legs were so skinny; I'm sure it hurt her when we would pet her, because her backbone and ribs were all that was there. Rest well, Samantha. We loved you dearly.
Hi! I'm Julieanne!