SamCat showed up in early spring. He was a ratty looking white medium size cat who was rummaging in our front yard. He was spotted by my sister Deirdre and my brother Brian. Deirdre always had a soft spot for stray cats and she really felt kindness towards this mangy creature who looked like he went 15 rounds with Apollo Creed. I suggested calling the cat Rocky.
The cat was ugly. His eye was swollen shut. A large gash was visible above the eye. It looked infected and approaching it was the only thing that would make the cat strike out. My mom of course was horrified that we look a liking to the cat. She would not allow the cat in the house. Ahhhh, but that did not stop Deirdre from showing compassion for the cat that she named Sam. She fed the cat everyday with dry food until the day before she died. She did this without mom noticing.
My brother took solace in our grief over Deirdre's death by taking care of SamCat the stray one. Now, Sam stuck around for a few months but as the weather got warmer SamCat would seek his destiny elsewhere. My mom would be relieved when he left but just when we got used to his absence, lo and behold SamCat would appear again.
Usually it was because SamCat was regrouping from a battle with the various animals that would cross his path. Some of the legendary fights he had with other cats sounded horrible, like a stadium full of babies being tortured. Other fights would involved fights with the dogs in the neighborhood. Legend has it that SamCat killed a dog in battle. He battled the raccoons who dared to grab some of the Cat Chow that was left for him.
My mom soon became adamant that we were not to feed SamCat. We complied somewhat, but SamCat was slick I tells ya. Anytime the door was opened he would scurry in the house and race straight for the food left for our house cat Sidney. No matter how fast my mom was in getting to the cat to shoo him out of the house, Sam would get his fill. However, SamCat knew the score and took off to points unknown......until......Maeve came to visit.
Maeve is my cousin from Ireland who was a bit spoiled when she was a young girl. At times this would get on Brian and my nerves. However, when SamCat showed up the day before Maeve arrived, Brian and I hatched a plan where we could use Maeve to our advantage. We took Maeve to see SamCat and man, did SamCat knew how to win Maeve's affections. She loved him, and in order to keep Maeve happy my mom had to give in to taking care of SamCat. We put a box with a blanket outside for SamCat to sleep in and allowed Maeve to feed him. since her visit lasted three weeks we more or less had SamCat as our official outdoor cat.
Though we were now free to feed SamCat, he would take off from time to time for months at a time, always coming back when we least expected it. For the most part he looked healthy when we came back except that I noticed his tail was dead. I step on it once and he did not flinch. I stepped on it a few times to prove this point and sure enough it was dead. this may explain why he got into fights so often. No one knew he was pissed because his tail would not move.
I don't recall the last time I saw SamCat, sometime in late 1982 or early 1983. Someone thought they had seen a dead cat that looked like SamCat on the highway near my house. It may not have been SamCat but since we never saw him again we just assumed it was him. I think even Sidney was sad at the revelation, my mom was a little sad.
What is it about a mangy, dirty, pathetic creature that tears at our hearts? At first it was only Deirdre that took pity, then Brian, then me and finally, mom. SamCat was cool, kind and took no crap from no one.
I miss that bugger.