Cheryl is a friend of Shepherding All God’s Creature blog, Facebook page, and prayer group. She operates the rescue called Lakeland Cat Rescue Project. This is her story about a wonderful cat friend who came into her life and changed it forever!
Samson, 1998 – 2020
Sad to say I had to euthanize one of my oldest cats, Samson, yesterday and I would like to memorialize him today. I memorialize these animals because their lives mean something and this one particularly was outstanding. Yes, this beautiful boy must have been around 22 years old when he died and I say must have been because when I met him in 2000, I was trapping cats that lived around the Lakeland complex and I found this stunning big black cat that was a little more than a year old. I ended up TNR him and putting him in the newly acquired property with all of the other 40 cats that I trapped that winter to take them from the Lakeland complex and put them in the rescue.
Unfortunately he was not happy and he and nine other cats escaped underneath the fencing of the rescue and ran back to other parts of County Complex. I found him and a muted Calico I named Maria living together in a very large shed. The bottom of the shed was used for lawn mower equipment and the top was where hay was kept for the horses at the barn nearby. Maria and Samson were best of friends. They couldn’t be too much more since they were both neutered.😁 But they stuck with each other for a good ten years. They would jump from the broken window of the shed onto a tree and shimmy down and I would feed them behind the tree. No one knew they were there. Unfortunately the shed eventually came down and they moved to the 4-H horse barn. Not as warm but they spent several winters there.
Eventually the 4-H horse barn came down and the land was sold to the National Guard. Both of the cats were still young enough to find other alternatives. They split locations and Maria moved into a wooded area behind the maintenance shop and Samson moved into the abandoned battered women shelter. I found them and fed them in their respective places for many years. Since I was the coordinator of that BWS shelter at one time, I was very familiar with the area. When I had worked at that shelter is when I had started the rescue at Lakeland.
Anyway, Samson was very much the king of that abandoned building. In the evening you could often see him sitting in one of the windows waiting for me to bring him dinner. Sometimes maintenance staff from the county would store stuff in the building but they never saw him because he would hide in the walls. Over the years that he lived there he had to coexist with raccoons possums skunks and rats. He was really quite a survivor. Many people would talk about the big black cat that lives in the abandoned shelter. As he was getting to be around 15 years old I started to realize he was losing his hearing. So when I was notified that the building was coming down to make a parking lot I realized I had to trap him. What if he was inside the building when they bulldozed it down?
So I set up traps and I trapped him and brought him home. That was a little over six years ago. Even though I would see him everyday outside, it was a different story having him live with me. He started out in a dog crate which he did not appreciate… he was wild and sullen of course, he had lived all those years outside. But I also knew that he appreciated being away from the weather and not having to fight for survival.
Unfortunately his “wild side” took him to doing some bizarre things such as finding his way into the pump closet in the house and finding an entry to the crawl space under the house which resulted in having to tear out the wall and actually open up part of the foundation of the house. After 6 weeks of being there there was no other way for us to get him out. I was not happy about this but once the hole was made on the side of the foundation a trap was set against it and I was able to trap him and return him to the cage inside. Most people would have given up at that point but somehow I could not give up on him. That situation actually made him much better and he started to sleep calmly in a bed in the living room.
After he had been with me for over 2 years I adopted three kittens that were supposed to be only for foster but because I was too busy to find them homes I ended up keeping them. Bizarrely enough, one of the kittens Frankie took to Samson… as if he was his son. Whenever he went outside, when he came in, he would have to find Samson and buttheads. I would find him licking Samson and because Samson had been a loner for so many years after Maria, he really didn’t know what to make of this little guy.
Samson didn’t like me to touch him but he warmed up to Frankie. And as he was growing older, getting to his twenties, he lost a lot of weight with thyroid problems as many cats do. I had him on medication and my pet sitters were often astounded about how much he could eat. From the Great Mighty Samson he had become a little skinny cat. Sometimes when Frankie would headbutt him he would throw Samson across the room. Regardless Samson was the first one to have treats. He loved to climb on the bed and get treats from me. I always wanted the opportunity to pick him up but he never liked it.
In March when the covid-19 quarantine hit I was spending more time at home and noticing how clingy Samson had become. He was everywhere I was begging for food. The vet upped his thyroid medication… but he was seriously getting on my nerves in that every time I turned around he was standing there. I called him one of the sisters of The Shining. I know it wasn’t right but that’s just what he reminded me of. I had him on all kinds of different supplements and foods that he would like but I knew something was wrong and two weeks ago I took him to the vet who gave him an ultrasound to find out that he had tumors surrounding his stomach. I couldn’t believe it. I know I should have, after all he was over 21 years old. I started to pick him up as much as possible and I realized he was only weighing under 5 lb. He still had a magnificent appetite but he started having one thing after another wrong with him. He had been such a strong cat who had been so independent I did not want to take his life from him.
But every day he got weaker and he started to have bouts where he was gasping for air. It happened once last friday night. At that point I thought I would have to rush him to emergency, but he recovered and was eating the next day. But he was not good and his stomach was bloated even though we had him on lasix.
This monday morning (June 15, 2020) I was surprised to see him on my bed begging for treats which I happily gave him. Then I heard him gasping for air. I knew that I could not allow him to go on like that and ended up taking him back to the vet. Dr. Bell at the Evesham Veterinary Clinic, who is just so amazing. I did not want to take Samsons life from him but his lungs were filling with fluid and his organs shutting down. I buried him later that day. The thought came to me that I will see him again, and I also thought about how I was able to hold him these last couple weeks which he never let me do before, and he would purr. Also, Frankie’s stayed by him throughout these last many weeks that he was suffering. The below picture (first one) is just a picture that looked like him because I was unable to lift the original pictures from my old phone… the more recent pictures show how thin and small he had gotten and also how much love Frankie showed as he put his paw on him and spent his time comforting his dear friend.
Thank you for listening and honoring this amazing cat Samson.💕
Thank you for visiting the blog and reading our guest Cheryl’s post! I know Samson is missed so much and we at SAGC pray for her comfort and peace, knowing Jesus loves his creatures more than we ever could and that one day, we may all see our beloved animal friends again, where
They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” Isaiah 11:9
Visit Cheryl’s page and learn more about the amazing work that she is doing at Lakeland Cat Rescue Project! Also, if you would like to post a pet memorial, please message me; we would be happy to do so.
While you are here, check out other articles on our blog and explore the site for some great writing and other teaching about how important animals are to God and what the Bible says about God’s love for them and our – his human project’s – responsibilities for all of them and the earth. Blessings ~ Kathy
My calling as a Child of the Creator is to take the Gospel, as it relates to the WHOLE creation, to the world; and to remind the Church of its Biblical responsibilities to non-human animals and the earth.
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