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Chapter 1 of 2
Just a smidgen of background before I get started. First of all, this is a true story. The pictures of Sampson, Lilo and Stitch are all very real.
Cats. I've been around them my entire life. I grew up in the country always surrounded by hoards of them and when I moved away from home the times I would find myself without one, I knew it was only a matter of days before I would hear the desperate screaming of a kitten who had been abandoned either by it's mother or by the human that no longer wanted it. Once they were in my home, they were mine for the rest of their lives. I can hear you thinking... oh, she's one of those cat hoarders who has 50 or more cats living with her. Not true. The most I ever had living with me was five, and to be honest that was a bit much. I would find homes for the others that I just was not able to take in and care for. So let's make sure you do understand that. No hoarding going on here folks. On with the story.
Let me tell you about the cat who taught me an invaluable lesson... his name was Sampson. He was handsome, a bit of a brute, mischievous, rambunctious and yet extremely sensitive. He hated thunder, but was the dominant force of 3 other cats not to mention me! Just when I thought I knew all there was to know about Sampson, I was about to learn some pretty terrible truths. I used to call him a ‘troubled cat’ but what I had to face was the fact that I was the problem... I was the one who was ‘troubled’.
You see, as I mentioned, I grew up surrounded by hoards of cats, 40 of them give or take, on a farm where their primary purpose was to save us humans from being the latest meal for the masses of rodents one finds out in the country. Our cats had a purpose and they never let us down with the one exception of having a mouse climb up my leg while I was sleeping, yet not one of us were ever nibbled on thanks to those cats. There were no attachments to these creatures, no sentimentality outside of us naming each and every one of them, and when they died, we were sorry, but we moved right along. When I think about that period of time, there are stories I could tell you that would horrify most people. But growing up on a farm where animals get hurt and die is just a part of life.
Even though I loved all of the cats the Lord brought my way over the years, it took Sampson to teach me about the true nature of our pets and how they are connected to us whether we believe it or not, whether we understand it or not, or whether we want it or not. They know who we are and once you connect to their complex nature they'll give you more than you can begin to imagine. You’ll see what I mean by the end of my story.
Back in 2002 a friend of mine who had started a feline rescue group asked me to help two tiny, 6 week old, male kittens who had been abused. Only 6 weeks old and already scarred by the brutal nature of mankind. There are two things that make me absolutely crazy, one being child abuse and the other animal cruelty. I of course said yes, bring them.
I named them Lilo and Stitch. Stitch was all black and literally afraid of his shadow. The only way he would allow me to pet him was when I was laying down on the sofa with my arm hanging off to the side. I could tell he yearned to be loved so I considered this a good step forward. Unfortunately he didn’t last long. In just a matter of a couple of weeks he had become lethargic, was losing weight and his eyes told me he needed help. I took him to the Vet only to find that he had developed a severe liver disorder and was in a lot of pain. As hard as losing a pet is, I didn't want to add any more pain to his life so I had to say good-bye.
Lilo lost his brother and best friend and became even closer to me, never leaving my side. He was the most adorable, loving, curious little kitten. He and I connected on a level I’ve never experienced with an animal. A total extrovert with the biggest cat eyes I've ever seen and such a little lover. When laying on the sofa, Lilo would run up to my neck and flip his tiny little body upside down to feel the love. He was simply adorable. He would even play catch with me every night before bed. One night he came to bed with one of those bright orange ear plugs he found in an open drawer and dropped it right in front of me. I flicked it up in the air for him to catch and he caught it! Little did I know that I created a monster! Over and over again, he'd bring it back for me to throw again. He was nothing but a pure pleasure to care for.
What does all that have to do with Sampson? Well, let me explain. After Stitch died, the crew
of cats consisted of brother and sister, Sampson and Delilah, Baby, my oldest cat whose health wasn’t the best at 19 and Lilo.
Sampson had always dominated Delilah, from the moment they were born... he was in charge. But Baby had been around long enough to know she was the one who was really in charge and because she hadn’t been feeling well, she wasn't about to take any crap from Sampson. She’d snap back at him before he even had a chance to bully her. It was really quite funny as Sampson would jump back and look at me with an expression of, what did I do? Then he would walk away appearing to be grumbling under his breath.
Sampson eventually saw Lilo as the new conquest. The trouble was that Lilo wasn't used to being around an aggressive cat, so he didn’t know how to behave. He’d never been in a cat fight and all it would take would be Sampson glancing in Lilo's direction and the race was on! The poor little guy would run like his hair was on fire, around the couch, through the kitchen, pass the office and up the stairs they would go! Sampson of course took Lilo's running as a challenge so he would be a foot away from Lilo's tail.
Of course this would wind me up and off I'd go running and screaming behind them trying to capture Sampson, while he was running after Lilo...and poor little Lilo probably thought the whole house was after him... It was not a pretty scene.... nothing but a fiasco!
This went on for 3 years!... Lilo sees Sampson, Sampson sees Lilo and the fur flies... Not to mention my temper. It just angered me to no end to see Sampson scaring that precious little kitten. Then it happened... Sampson started getting sick.
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