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.