Thursday, June 7, 2012

Saying goodbye to Samantha

In early May, we said goodbye to a special kitty named Samantha. We had been seeing Samantha as a patient here since her family moved to Michigan in 2006. Her loving family had been dealing with the multiple issues of an aging cat - kidney disease, joint disease, dental disease, but in May, they brought her to us knowing that something just wasn't right. We took an x-ray and found that she had developed a tumor in her lung. Shortly thereafter, everyone knew that to say goodbye was the best choice. Yesterday, we received a lovely letter from her family and a heartfelt memorial that brought tears to our eyes. We would like to share this family's love for their dear Samantha with you...


Dear Steve and friends –

Marilyn and I will always be grateful for the extraordinary care you’ve given our dear Samantha since bringing her home to Michigan from New York in 2006.  The devotion you all demonstrate to these wondrous little creatures in your care is a blessing not only to them, but to their “parents” whom, I’m sure, often need as much or more reassuring, consoling, calming, and maybe even medicating (!) than your furry patients. 

I’ve always considered Samantha to be among the most beautiful cats on earth, but the truth is they all seem to engender innocence, wonder, and compassion which further enhance their natural beauty.  That said, still, she was gorgeous.  But your calendar and your website remind me that she was not alone.  I love the fact that Buddy is prominently featured on your site’s masthead and elsewhere.  He and Samantha would make a stunning couple!  I will be submitting hundreds (okay, maybe a dozen) pictures for you to consider for your 2013 calendar. 

Putting this little memorial and video (see below) together has been painful, joyful, exhausting, and restorative.   You should see this home after I tore it apart looking for her kitten pictures.  They were in the last box in the last closet, taking me on a journey through almost every photograph in my significant collection.  I hope you find it to be an uplifting tail, er, uh, tale… of an awesome pussycat and her extended visit to a strange little planet. 

With much gratitude and respect,

Jeffrey B----

Many of my family and friends know the story of how we found that tiny furball nearly 18 years ago.  It was a dark, chilly evening  in early December, on our way to the grocery store near our apartment in Queens.  Marilyn jumped and said there was a cat in the middle of the road.  I swerved to stop the oncoming traffic, got out of the car, and looked down to find a very small kitten with hair as black as the night sky.  She looked up at me, frozen in terror, as I reached to pick her up off the street.  This little creature fit perfectly in the palm of my hand.  I held her close to my chest as I drove to the store with new items on our list – cat food and litter.  Marilyn was genuinely afraid of cats and I had already resolved that the next morning I would have to take the kitten to a shelter on Long Island where they don’t euthanize.  But after a little supper and a nap on my chest, bundled in one of my red t-shirts, the little critter didn’t appear as threatening as expected.  It didn’t take long before Marilyn pulled out the porcelain dishes for this little princess.  By morning, Samantha was here to stay. 

It has been a blessing and my privilege to have cared for three wonderful cats for a total of 45 years, but never have I seen (and been a willing accomplice to) the off-the-charts pampering of which this dear feline has been the lucky recipient.  I knew I was a pushover but Samantha really had her new “mom” wrapped around her paw.  Sammy was talented, too – perched on a chair, she was able to bat rolled up balls of aluminum foil out of mid-air with an average that would rival Ty Cobb’s.  Then she would proceed to pick them up in her mouth and bring them back to me (I kid you not).  I have dozens of stories about her many talents, but suffice it to say that she proved to be an extraordinarily smart cat. 

Through the years, Sammy experienced more than her share of illnesses.  From age 2 through 10, she suffered from frequent seizures.  Pancreatitis, hyperthyroidism, and more followed.  With this in mind, it wasn’t long before I gave Samantha her middle name – Pedikaras.  This was borrowed from a 1975 movie titled The Wind and the Lion with Sean Connery as an early 20th century Berber sheik in Morocco who kidnaps an American woman (Candice Bergen) named Eden Pedikaras.  While a “guest” of Sean Connery’s character, he would often become frustrated by her independent, outspoken nature (mostly because her opinions were sensible and usually correct) and her assertion that she – a woman – was an equal to this desert leader.  Throughout the movie he would say to her, in his irrepressible Scottish accent (rolling every ‘R’), “You’re a lot of  trouble, Mrs. Pedikaras.”  

But Sammy never really was any trouble.  A dear friend, a gentle companion, with a loving, expressive nature.  It was always crystal clear to me that Samantha appreciated everything that was ever done for her – from a scratch behind her ears to a fresh rotisserie chicken brought home hot from the store (mostly for her), and from the steps she needed to climb up to the bed to the countless cat beds, dog beds, paper bags, pillows (including mine), and t-shirts on which she could lay her precious head.  And I am equally convinced that she knew, beyond any measure of doubt, that she was dearly loved every moment of her life. 

A few weeks ago, Samantha and I spent yet another truly magnificent day looking though the great screen doors onto my deck and the lake just beyond, where she loved to lay and watch the swans, the geese, the heron, the ducks, and all their cousins.  Later that same evening, Samantha’s time here on earth came to an end pretty much where it began – nestled in my arms, in yet another one of my red t-shirts.  I know she is strong and healthy again, being cared for by those we love who have gone before us, patiently waiting for the day when we will be together again.  I have to remember to bring a rotisserie chicken…

Below is the video I’ve prepared as a loving remembrance of Samantha. 


*If the link above doesn’t work for you, go to and search for PEDIKARAS.

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