Brooke and I were married in June 2005 and shortly moved to St. Louis. As many young married couples do, within a few months, we thought it was time to consider a pet, but given our work schedules and general lack of desire to walk a dog a few times a day (at the time…), we considered getting a cat. Neither of us had ever had an indoor pet cat before, though Brooke had plenty of outdoor cats at her house growing up, and I was exposed to farm cats at my Grandma’s house. Honestly, we weren’t entirely sure what we were getting in to, but we figured that a cat would probably be easier to manage because we could leave it at home when we went back to Columbia, Hannibal, or on trips. It seemed like a relatively convenient and pragmatic option.
So, we checked out the St. Louis Humane Society to see what they had available. They usually name cats that come in based on a theme, and the current one caused them to name cats after recent movie characters. Thus, looking over our options, we settled upon “Constantine,” who was named after the Keanu Reeves movie out that year. He seemed like a relatively friendly cat, though to Brooke and I, who didn’t grow up with indoor cats, we weren’t really sure what “friendly” meant in this case, as cats tend to have their own personalities (as we’d come to find out).
I don’t remember exactly how we settled on the name “Sam,” but I know we liked the idea of a name usually given to humans, and we also liked that it had fewer syllables than “Constantine.” Somehow, it seemed to fit, so we went with it. In that first few months, I didn’t even really post much about him, except that December when I posted about how he liked to climb up Brooke. One of the good things about a cat is that they’re present, but not necessarily the center of your life, unless you want them to be!
Sam was a good cat, though. He had his claws, which meant that we went through some furniture, as he never really liked scratching posts or catnip. He never really played with many toys, though he did love laser pointers. He somewhat famously hid under our bed for a week and peed on the bed after we brought Edie home a few years later. He was always pretty curious when we’d bring someone new home to stay, such as Edie, or especially Meg, after she was born in 2010. By the time Calvin arrived in 2013, Sam was used to having a young one toddling around.
Sam only made it outside a few times. In Soulard, he slipped through a rip in the screen window and went down the stairs to the courtyard below. We didn’t even know about it until we heard “meow” from outside and had to investigate! Another time, in our house off of Kingshighway, he got out Memorial Day weekend and we were gone for three days, only to return and see that the litter box hadn’t been used and no food was eaten. After a frantic search, we eventually found him in the garage out back, which had a door that could be locked, but couldn’t be closed all the way. Here in Marshall, he got out a few times after we first moved here, but it usually didn’t take too long to get him back from under the front porch.
As I said, cats tend to have distinct personalities, and Sam was no different. He was pretty friendly and would at least say “hi” to strangers when they were come by the house. A lot of our friends knew Sam to be a good cat to just sit and pet, and Sam would happily oblige. Early on, Brooke had to carry him around like a baby over her shoulder as she brushed her teeth in the morning. For most of his life, he’d curl up on top of us as we’d lay on the couch watching TV.
We also learned early on that Sam couldn’t be trusted sleeping with us, as any time we would move a leg under the covers, he would pounce on it (with claws drawn). This would remain an issue for years, especially as he grew older and couldn’t retract his claws as easily as he used to, making it less and less comfortable for him to curl up with us on the couch. He’d also get his claws stuck in blankets, rugs, and more.
Speaking of “couldn’t be trusted,” he also (in)famously helped Edie get some deer jerky from my uncle by climbing up on the fridge to knock the bag down for Edie to open and eat. Sam liked eating jerky, too.
Over the last few years, starting in 2020, he really started to slow down. Frankly, we weren’t sure how much longer he was going to make it back then. He stopped cleaning himself as much, and his fur became progressively more matted and difficult to manage. He still got around well and was eating and drinking, though it was getting more difficult to maintain his body weight, and he’d start throwing up if he ate too fast (common among cats, but not an issue until relatively recently).
In late-2020, seeing Sam already sleeping more and more and being less active, we opted to introduce him to Charlotte. He took to her far better than he took to Edie, and they would play together about as much as he could. She could run past him and get up on her hind legs to hop on his back, and he would “yowl” at her, presumably in annoyance. For a long time, Charlotte would lick his head, which would keep him looking a little better, but it only went so far. Still, those two cats got along well and we think Sam liked having another furry friend around to keep him company in his later years.
It is difficult to fully express what losing Sam means, but I can at least say that I’m a routine oriented person, and I’ve had a housecat for nearly 18 years, practically as long as we’ve been married. We have had this cat longer than we had Edie, and longer than we have had children. Not having him is going to leave a hole in our family that is difficult to fill, but in the end, we know that 18 years is a long, full life for a cat to live, and we are glad he was with us for as long as he was.
We love you, Sam, and will miss you. Rest well, Friend.