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Sammy, my cat, was born May 5, 1989, though the date was approximated by the first veterinarian that saw him after we’d made sure no one wanted him back. Even if they did want him and had missed our advertisements, the fact that Sammy had not seen a veterinarian yet and that he was detached from his original owner suggested the propriety of a new home.
The neighbor kids claimed that Sammy was their gift to us, that they had discovered him and placed him in our yard.
Sammy is getting very old these days; he’s 17; he’s deaf; he’s arthritic; he can’t control his bowels. I just bought a new backpack for this collegiate semester, because my cat urinated inside my old backpack.
Sammy had a long and distinguished service in the armed forces of his feline community, taking up claws against the invasions of cats from across the railroad tracks. In more recent years, Sammy was trusted as an eminent adviser in military and community affairs, and I once witnessed him conferring at the side of our yard with a convoy of local cats about matters of state. My presence in the yard, of course, made for a quick dispersion of the meeting, but I imagine it was only because Sammy had not enough time to instruct the other cats that I could be trusted to conceal their confidentialities.
He is given to adopting a new resting pad every three to four months, and the launch of summer in the middle of June was a suitable occasion for an engineered redistricting. The rainy season, which in the Northwest lasts 11 months of the year, took enough of a pause to facilitate Sammy’s fulltime acclimation to the outdoors.
He took up residence in the front yard, where neither passing cars nor passing dogs could disturb him.
As I sprinted out of the backyard with Yoshi the dog one morning, we rounded the corner, Yoshi’s nose in the lead, the cat awaiting. Sammy was awake already, but it was not a day for a race, nor a hiss, nor a scratch, nor an arched back. It was a day for a hideous glance that precluded the need for any of the other responses. One quick determined stare at Yoshi – the stare of a mad prophet bent upon the announcement of some heretofore unspeakable doom – did the trick.
One night he even scooted over to the hard driveway for a firmer spot and made a remarkable obstacle to the approaching family vehicle. Seeing him there as we arrived gave cause to the brake, but only to slow the car enough for a fair warning. It was not time sufficient for the sluggish kitty, however, who we witnessed seconds later stretching himself out from beneath the curvature of the front tire.
It was laughable in its own right, but we were not the only ones moved by Sammy’s failure to move. The neighbor across the street had been walking by our yard with her dog as Sammy lay comatose upon the driveway, dreaming of the ’90s and other days gone by. Neither the dog nor the neighbor in their proximity could stir the slumbering senseless feline. We found upon our answering machine the concerned voice of the neighbor wondering whether “your kitty is alright” because “he didn’t even flinch.”
I repeated the driveway routine, only with more patience, on another occasion. I pulled the pickup slowly into the driveway, flashing the brights at Sammy as he sat looking up at the truck and meowing. I inched forward. No movement. Then he got up and wandered over by my door, which I opened as he strutted back into the direct wheel-track of the rear wheel. So I snatched him up and sat him down on the seat beside me and parked the car.
A cat is a regal creature, albeit aggravating and occasionally lovely. My brother and I are working to preserve Sammy until he is 32 human years old, at which time he will be eligible for entry in the Guinness Book of World Records.