After scrolling through a cat blog (Marty the Manx) tonight, I found myself thinking of my best kitty friend Salem who passed away in January 2014. While I made my blog about Chase, I decided Salem deserved a shout-out, because if he was still here today, he would have his own blog!
I could go on and on about Salem, but here is as condensed as a version I can write.
On May 18, 2002, my life changed forever. I had two shih-tzus and had never owned or been around cats in my life! I was sitting with my dad by the charcoal bbq waiting for supper to cook. I turned around and saw a black cat, who appeared to have no eyes! I ran inside and told my mom, surely she would know what to do. She came out with some ham and started feeding him. That’s when we got a good look at him… his bones were sticking out of his entire body, his fur was a strange red color and his eyes were covered in puss. This cat was as close to starving to death as you could imagine.
Mom called a neighbor who had cats to see if she recognized him. She had never seen him before and she brought down some cat food so he could eat more. We set him up on the back step of our attached garage. He had food, water and blanket out there. Supper was ready, but I barely touched a thing. He was all I could think about. I sat outside with him, patting him and despite being so sick, he was purring away. We had been together for a little over an hour at that point. I sat, patting him and decided he needed a name. At first I was going to call him prince, but then I decided on Salem because I was a huge fan of Sabrina the Teenage Witch (I had a bunch of the books and since Salem was all black, the name sounded perfect!).
Mom went out and got some supplies, like a litter box and set him up in the basement laundry room. Mom called the local animal control guy, who transfers lost/found pets to the nearest SPCA. She told him the condition of the cat, he said he could pick him up on Monday (it was Saturday), but to be honest the cat would be euthanized because he is in too rough shape for the SPCA to fix up (too much money). I am sure the fact that he is black did not help, as many people know black cats are the least adoptable in a large part due to superstitions, but also due to cat racism (my term for it).
There was no way mom could send this cat to his death, even in his condition he was the sweetest thing! I am sure the fact that I had already named him and spent all evening with him helped 😉
Mom and dad wiped the puss out of his eyes, took a tick off of him and cleaned out his ears that evening. He went to the vet later and we discovered he had ear mitts, a respiratory infection and was INFESTED with fleas. We also discovered he had turned red due to severe malnutrition, the vet had never seen anything like it and he was close to retirement at that point. Basically, Salem’s body was so deprived of nutrients that his fur was even dying. We could not treat his fleas because his weight was too low. So of course, the fleas ended spreading to our two dogs. In the end, this run of the mill domestic short hair all black cat cost over $1000 for my parents to fix up. And he was worth EVERY penny!!! My entire family loved him soooo much there are no words to describe it. In fact, everyone who met Salem fell in love. He was the kindest, most easy going cat in the world. He became my best friend, he followed me everywhere and I could not imagine my life without him.
Unfortunately, in December 2013, he was not acting right and a trip to the vet revealed he was in liver failure. It was awful news. Especially since I had lost both of my childhood shih-tzus in the previous 3 years. No one was ready to lose another beloved pet. We decided to keep Salem going as long as possible, he was still eating and was still happy to be petted. We also wanted to ensure he got one last Christmas. He LOVED Christmas so much, he enjoyed batting the ornaments and sleeping under/by the tree 🙂
Salem had his last Christmas, he enjoyed every minute of it. On January 10, 2014, Salem passed away in our home. He was the first animal my family had that passed at home. It was no easier, if anything it was worse because it was so sudden. All I wanted was one more week, one more day, one more hour, one more minute to spend with him. His death hit me hard. I was glad to have Chase there to comfort me. Salem was my cat, I dreamed of the day I’d own my own house and Salem would come live with me. He was with me for over 12 years, he was estimated to be 3 years when he showed up and I did not feel like he was old at all. I felt like we must of had another 10 years together.
As hard as it is to lose a pet, the memories are worth it! Someday, I will get another cat, but I still just cannot bring myself to get another cat. I feel like I would be replacing Salem and there is no replacing him. He was truly one of a kind. For now I will enjoy spending time with the animal shelter cats 🙂
Miss you Salem!!