Sunday, January 27, 2008

A short word about Sammy

I know that Sammy is better because I had to dash back into the house today for something I’d forgotten and before the key was even in the lock, I could hear him swearing at Teddymouse.

Sammy has been scratching at what was looking suspiciously like death’s cat-flap this week. He stopped keeping down food but the vet and her expensive blood-tests found nothing wrong which is a bad sign. He managed to lose weight from somewhere – most likely his brain given how very, very excited he would get when shown his full bowl after having taken a bite, looked away for a moment and forgotten all about it. Given that he is a scary, scrawny, bony bag of fur, losing weight is not really an option for our skinny puss and so when he took to seeking out small, dark places to hide and stopped sleeping on my pillow, we worried. What worried us most, however, was that he completely ignored Teddymouse.

When we adopted our old puss, he didn’t have a collar and as our cat-door has a magnetic lock, he needed one to hang his conveniently mouse-shaped magnet on (honestly, WHO makes this stuff up?). The Frog being who he is, the cat couldn’t just have Any Old Collar, no, he had to have one which the Frog bought because, no, don’t laugh, he bought because it matches our living-room rug. Well that’s just how it is in our house.

We ordered the collar and when it arrived, nestled in the box next to it was a small, unprepossessing catnip mouse. No squeaker, no crunchy bits, no tricks, just a small, fabric mouse with a pink string tail. We sniffed at it a bit and for a laugh, threw it to Sammy who promptly Fell In Love. Every night Sammy plays with the mouse. Every day, the minute the house is empty and sometimes even before we have locked the door behind us, he plays with the mouse. He shouts at it, swears at it, tosses it around and yowls as though this mouse is the devil incarnate.

He also sleeps with it every night, which is why we call it Teddymouse. And, because he sleeps with us, we sleep with Teddymouse too. In fact, I may go to sleep with Sammy on my pillow and Teddymouse in the living-room, but every morning I wake up crushing poor little Teddymouse with my enormous pile of flab.

When Sammy fell ill, Teddymouse was my barometer of how bad it was getting – that and how he reacted to the spud’s hundred little hands. When he didn’t even sniff at the mouse and just lay in an un-groomed and spiky pile of fur while the spud gnawed on his ears, we began to face the fact that he may have been working on his ninth life when he got here and one day soon we would be digging a hole in the garden big enough for our old gent and Teddymouse to sleep their last sleep.

Sammy, however, had other plans, particularly after I reminded him that in this world, we can get sardines out of a tin whenever we want. He ate a little fish, slept on something comfortable, went outside, licked himself clean and perked up enough to once again be found at mealtimes descending the Frog’s chest in pursuit of his dinner.

Best of all, this morning when I woke up I once again felt the uncomfortable and undoubtedly unsanitary lump of Teddymouse lurking under my left kidney and, when I moved, Sammy batted at my nose from his position as owner of 90% of my pillow.

Right this minute, right as I am typing, Sammy has conned the Frog into feeding him his second dinner. He's a bit like a Hobbit our cat, (although hopefully not for long now his thyroid meds have been upped), our cat with his second breakfasts and elevenses and lunches and snacks and teas and dinners and second dinners. Sometimes if the spud wakes us up in the middle of the night, Sammy can be found successfully cajoling a 4am feast out of a somnambulent parent - I suspect he and the spud tag-team us. Sammy bats us awake, the spud screams for a bottle and suddenly the cupboards are bare.

Either way, after last week Sammy is welcome to all the food he can eat, all the pillows he can fit onto and we'll buy Teddymouse his own damn collar - anything so long as we don't have to go out and dig that hole quite yet.


ilana (Helen) Pengelly said...

Oh Steph, our dear elderly (she's nearly 20) Pixie is now scratching at the flap. In fact it's gone beyond that. We'd have had the deed done on Friday but we haven't figured out how dig a hole In the Frozen Tundra that is our yard. But we do have to figure it out in the next few days as her life has become an endurance test, poor thing. In the meantime it's all salmon, butter and chocolate ice cream for the poor lass.

N said...

Excellent piece! Had me in splits. I laughed and clapped like a little boy (which perhaps I am).

But I second your hubby in the choice of Sammy's collar-colour. There is nothing to laugh about there! ( ;) )

Who needs Garfield, Heathcliff and the lot for entertainment, when we have Sammy! Some day you must give him the keyboard, like the way you did to the spud, and ask him to paw away his feline opinions on you. Wouldn't we love that!

DJ Kirkby said...

Oooohhh wah such a sad post...our old Werecat is behaving much the same, doing lots of staring blankly at us and acting confused. Wah, wah, wah...

Anonymous said...

I remember well the days of being a dog owner and how cost was no issue to ensuring the well-being of our furry friends. Sniff. Hope Sammy stays well.

I third the collar-colour issue. Very important not to have too many incompatible colours flying around, especially with a sick cat mind you.

Jonny's Mommy said...

Coming from someone who has her own old cat, I'm glad to hear that Sammy appears to be doing better. I keep checking our cat when she's sleeping to be sure she's still breathing. I'm pretty sure she's sick of the poking and prodding during her naps, which is why she's started hiding in odd places -- like the changing table -- to get away from me.

Rob Clack said...

Aahh bless. Like yours, our cat shares her pillows with us when she doesn't need them. And her Teddymouse is a ball of string with a couple of loose ends. It lives on the kitchen floor and she inflicts extreme violence on it.

Sparx said...

Oh, Helen, I'm so sorry. But nearly 20 is a grand old age for a cat. Do you remember Lucifer? He lived until nearly 20 as well and the parental units Did The Deed finally as his life was also an endurance test. I'm so sorry, it's such a heart break. Big love.

Hi N! Sammy has had the keyboard before, he walks across it regularly... So, tell me. Does everything in your house Go too? I love that you're in agreement about the collar. I nearly wet myself laughing when the Frog found Sammy's collar but I do love it now! Thanks for coming by!

Oh DJ, I hope it's not the end. It's sooo sad. But, as you know, it's also the cycle of life and it's a lesson for the little ones. Hopefully all our fuzzy ones will pass over to the summerlands softly where it'll be endless cream and ear tickles. Great to see you as always!

Jennie - another collar supporter! My Frog is going to love this, all the support in the world for his madness! Yes, no expense spared, sniff. All good at the moment though. Great to see you! Will check in to see how your trip finished.

Jonny's Mummy - hah! Sammy picked the changing table as a good place to sleep as well - must be all those comfy nappies. Are you on cloth too? Nice to see so many old pusses with good homes - and nice to see you too!

Rob - that really made me laugh - extreme violence indeed. It's a wonder Teddymouse and your ball of string have anything left to them if your cat and mine compare! Lovely to see you!

N said...

Ha ha! What can I say? Familiarity breeds endearment in the case of Collar-Sparx relationship!
No, we don't have pets, if that's what you meant by 'Does everything Go?' But I live in a university hostel where we have a cat and her never-ending litter of kittens playing all over the corridors. None, however, match Sammy in quirkiness.
Yes, I do, er, write crosswords. Pity you didn't see the more significant blogs* in my profile. ;) Sure, I'd love to see your father reading my crossword blog. Thanks!

* one is riddled with comic poetry, the other with light prose.

Jen said...

Awww. I'm not even a cat person, and I am clapping for Sammy! My husband would totally buy a collar to match the rug - glad other lunatic husbands exist out there.
I tagged you for a meme-sorry- but it is a good one.

Jonny's Mommy said...

Sparx: I'm afraid I'm contributing to the landfill crisis and ozone destruction with disposable diapers, but I'm thinking of changing should the little one not turn Hubby and I completely off the idea of another child. This is of course, a joke..about the little one, I mean. he's a joy...just a crash course in child rearing is all. As for the diapers, that is a serious consideration on my part. As is staying home as a full-time mommy and house wife.

Sue said...

Poor Sam. Glad he's better.

For the record, I always did wonder who/what Teddymouse was!

Anonymous said...

So glad that Sammy has found a little more time, the oldies and sickies are so sweet and lovely. Hope I am around long enough to look after our two mad kitties - it's quite a decision to go into kittens at our time of life but am so glad that we did. Sandy didn't think so this morning when she was defending a new bone against two feline thieves.
Helen so sorry about your old friend but the ground ain't going anywhere at the current -30C that we are enjoying. We have found that vets are very kind and have big freezers. They will keep our friends until the thaw and do it for love.

Sparx said...

N - the cat and kittens sound like a charming break from studies! I've popped into your other two blogs now - how on earth do you manage it?

Jen - hmmm... well glad to know I'm not alone! Thanks for the tag, will have a go as soon as I can. Goodness knows who I'm going to tag this time! Thanks for dropping over!

Johnny's Mummy - well, if you pick the right nappy, going cloth is easy. Ours are brilliant, we tried about 14 brands before settling on these ones and I recommend them to everyone. Good to see you!

Sue - didn't think I'd mentioned Teddymouse by name before! Great to see you, hope all's well with the Bhablet.

Parental Unit - yes, I have to say I'm very fond of old cats, they have a dignity and grace and peaceful quality that you don't get with kittens! After having so many kittens in the house over the years I kinda went off them to be honest, not sure how you're managing!

Anonymous said...

To Sparx (and "n",and all you lovely blurters....)and the other parental unit...

We do spend a lot of time (and, I realise, dollars) on our pets. And the final choice we have to make is when they reach the end of their days. I remember when we had to have Becky (the lab cross) put down, our vet (a lovely man) came to the house, and with Becky lying in her favourite bed on the back deck, gave her the final dose. We were trying to hold back the tears when we realised he was crying too.
We are lucky in that we have the property space to have our animal friends interred under favourite trees - in fact we transplanted a small spruce to serve as Becky's head-tree....
The point of this blurt is that these creatures are an integral part of our lives, and whether we anthropomorphise them, or just accept their love and affection, it is hard to think of a life without them.

"n"...I have had a quick look at the current x-word. I think you better come up with one dedicated to our domestic furry friends.

Shannon said...

I have a pillow cat myself so was thinking last week that he is much too young. He moved onto hubby's pillow a few days ago and so I am liking him more and more but you just reminded me that I would be sad if he was gone. At least, as long as he is on hubby's pillow ; )
Sorry Sammy wasn't feeling well!

Sparx said...

Hello other parental unit - I do wish you'd fill in a name so I can tell you apart! Although I think I know who's who this time given the crossword references. We have no room for an extra tree in our garden so Sammy simply has to live until after we've moved somewhere with more space.

Hi Shannon - yes, it can be a pain when they're on the pillow, especially if they don't let you move! Great to see you!

Jonny's Mommy said...

I've tagged you for a reading meme..little silly at

Sorry in advance...

Sparx said...

Jonny's Mommy - ooh, thanks, I'll take a look! I was tagged for another meme this week too so prhaps I'll do them both together

N said...

It's not the kittens that provide us with the break from academics. It's the deer, the blackbucks and the rhesus monkeys inhabiting the campus :)
'how on earth do you manage it?'
Look who's asking! I post much less frequently than you do.
Thematic x-words... H'm.. I must start on one, sure.

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