On August 5 2016, our beloved store cat, Sam, passed away.
Sammy’s age was anyone’s guess, somewhere between eleven and fifteen years old. He came from a long line of Sams before him, and lived the bulk of his life at the penitentiary, winning the hearts of staff and inmates alike.
Winters can be cruel to outdoor cats who have no safe place on brutal chilly nights. In his youth, he’d keep warm by hanging out beneath the dryer vents, or could be found squirrelled away in an inmate’s cell (even though he wasn’t allowed). Though he endured this difficult life, he was never without love. Animals love us in a way other humans truly can’t, without judgement or reservation, without conditions or fear, and we in turn can love them just as purely; staff saw many tough inmates in tears confiding in Sam, and he merely listened, loved, and accepted them in return.
As he got older, he’d sneak into the living quarters at the prison and face the wall, as if you couldn’t see him if he didn’t see you. When he began to slow down, The Cat’s Cradle seemed the perfect place for him to retire: safe, warm, fed, and loved, and there he’s lived the past two years in utter contentment. He saw cats and kittens come and go, and all of them could be seen at one time or another curled up sleeping with him. Though he had numerous health problems that developed from his rough start in life, visitors would come in to see kittens and end up wanting to adopt him—there was no denying the special effect he had on everyone he met.
Perhaps more than any other cat, Sammy encapsulates our mission at CCI, because there are too many of him out there on the streets. They’re born outside to parents who were never spayed or neutered, but they make the best of what life has dealt them. There are others out there who go to homes as “free” kittens but later discarded and left to fend for themselves, bringing more and more babies into the world who suffer malnourishment and disease. Thankfully Sam was able to live out his final years in comfort, but for every Sam out there, so many more are forgotten.
Sam reminds us all not only how much cats have to give us, but how much we can give them in return when we open our hearts and homes to these special little lives. He didn’t choose his lot in life, but he chose to forgive and to love, and through his example he made us all better people.
Trust a cat to teach us what it means to be human.
Rest in peace now, dear Sammy. You’ve made a lasting impression in the hearts of all who met you, and we are all the better for having known you. Though our work at CCI continues without you, every tiny life we manage to save will be in memory of yours.