Saying Goodbye to Sam

Sam in 2010

Sometime in March, 1999 a remarkable cat named Sam was born. We’re not sure of the exact date, as Sam was adopted from the Hawaii Humane Society as part of a BOGO (that’s a “Buy One, Get One Free”) special. A friend wanted a cat, and convinced Scott to take advantage of the BOGO special and get one for himself.

Sam is a Japanese Bobtail cat, which means he has a stump of a tail which he was able to use quite eloquently to express himself. With a flip of his tail stump, he was able to deliver a cat version of a middle finger salute that was unmistakable when he was displeased with you for some reason. When I teased him that he was a “discount” kitty, for example, he’d use his tail to flip me off as he walked away.

I didn’t meet Sam (or Scott, for that matter) until May of that same year, when I fell in love with Hawaii, with Scott, and with Sam. We added Megan (not a cat — a wonderful female person) to our menagerie a couple of years later, and we have all been together ever since.

As a kitten, Sam was a whirlwind of activity and adventure. He liked to climb, was endlessly curious, and was absolutely fearless, sometimes getting himself into situations that even he had a hard time getting out of. For a while we lived in an A-Frame house, and Sam loved to climb the rafters, walking precariously along a narrow beam 15+ ft. in the air. Occasionally we would find him hanging from a ceiling beam by one paw while he attempted to drop down onto a piece of furniture without killing himself.

He was intended to be an indoor cat, and seemed more or less content to stay that way until a guest at a party we were having opened the front door and let him outside. From that moment until we moved to another house, we were unable to keep him inside. He figured out how to pull the jalousie window panes out of their slots, spring the latch on the screen, and let himself out the window without breaking a thing. Did I mention that Japanese Bobtails are known as an exceptionally intelligent breed?

Cat Fancier Association describes Japanese Bobtail cats as “full of energy, always playful, loving, endearing, and happy”, and that would describe Sam to a “T”. A couple of websites say that the average life expectancy of a Japanese Bobtail cat is 9 – 15 years. Sam turned 20 this month (that is, in March of 2019), and although he outlived the average by a stretch, we are still heartbroken to know that he is about to “shuffle off this mortal coil”. His decline was surprisingly rapid. He went from sleeping more than usual to a mere shadow of the cat he once was in just a few months.

On Tuesday, March 26th, we’ll be saying our final good-byes to him. We are fortunate to have at least one vet here on the Big Island willing to do at-home euthanasia, and she’ll be helping Sam to leave this life as peacefully and painlessly as possible.

I think he’s ready to let go of this life. He can no longer walk on his own for more than a few steps, and he’s mostly stopped eating, taking no more than a few bites or licks of anything other than water. I wish he could just let go on his own, but in all my life living with myriad cats and dogs, I’ve never been fortunate enough to have one just slip away without assistance.

We love you, Sam, with all our hearts. Your leaving us marks the end of an era, and it will be very strange to wake up and know you are no longer with us. We will miss you forever, my darling adventurer.

12 thoughts on “Saying Goodbye to Sam

  1. Janice Whinnie

    Oh Lili,

    My heart breaks for you. Having to let your baby go is the hardest thing in the world. God bless you, Sam, Lili and Scott.

    1. Lili Rodriguez Post author

      Mahalo, Janice. And we need to include Megan as well. Megan has been nursing Sam through his last weeks and months. He’s been living on her bed, and she’s been waking up numerous times each night trying to help him get to the litter box or somewhere to pee other than her bed. It will be hard for me and for Scott, and I expect it is truly unbearable for Megan.

  2. Patricia J Cheyne

    We are so sad to learn of Sam’s demise, the worst worst worst part of being owned by a pet is losing them after so much love. Sending much love and peace to you Dear Sam Kitty <3

    1. Lili Rodriguez Post author

      Thanks so much, Patti — to both of you. Scott (um, your Scott, not my Scott) was with me when I went through this with Inky who was 22 years old. No matter how many times you go through this, it just doesn’t get any easier.

  3. Brett Cato

    Lili, so sorry to hear about Sam. It’s never easy letting go is it? I always struggle with the part about when it becomes selfish to hang onto them vs relieving them from a life of misery. Twenty years is a very good run, and to have lived those years in Paradise? I wouldn’t think ole Sam would have a thing to complain about. Be proud of the good life you gave Sam – I like to tell people to not wait and grieve, go right down there and adopt you a new one asap and they will help you smile and laugh through the tears and grief. All of this you know, you’ve been there and done all of this many times too. Take care, see you soon on our next trip!
    -Brett & Rose Anne Cato

    1. Lili Rodriguez Post author

      Thank you so much. No matter how many times you go through this, it’s always always brutally hard. We also struggled with knowing when it was time to let go. Unfortunately, we only have one vet on this entire island (that I know of) who will come to our home, so we have to wait on her availability. She’s a very caring woman, though, so I’m hopeful everything will be done right.

      We do still have another kitty — Pico — who is somewhere around 10 or 11 years old. He doesn’t act like a senior citizen (at all), but since he’s older I suspect we won’t be adding another cat any time soon. Of course, as I say that, I know that the Universe sometimes has plans for us that we know nothing about.

      Looking forward to seeing you both. It seems like it’s been ages!

      With much aloha,


  4. Joan

    He was a great cat friendly to a lot of people I know it said when you lose one of your pets as part of the family

  5. Janet

    Sending love to you, Scott and Megan. Letting them go is the hardest part.of loving them. Keep Sam in your heart and let his memory bring you joy.

  6. Mark

    Having always had a large furry ohana in my home I feel for you. I feel as if I knew Sam personally from the touching story your wrote. The emptiness is a testament to the space he occupied in your lives and your hearts. In the coming months there will be times you think you hear him and times you think you’ve glimpsed him from the corner of your eye. He was lucky to have you all and its clear that he enriched your lives as well. If there is a Rainbow Bridge then dear Sam will be waiting with his bob tail giving you the middle finger for taking so long. On those days you think you hear or see him, look around for that Rainbow Bridge, for what better and more natural place in the world for it to be than the magical islands of Hawaii – the land of Rainbows and a well loved Japanese Bobtail named

    1. Lili Rodriguez Post author

      Aloha Mark,

      Thank you so much for those beautiful thoughts. They mean the world to us. (I couldn’t reply right away because I was crying, but in a way they were good tears.) Megan has been seeing Sam around the house a lot. Just last night she heard him meow and followed the sound to the bathroom where he was using the litterbox (who knew you’d still have to use a litterbox when you’re on the other side!). When she sees him sleeping on the bed or wandering the house he looks like he did in the picture we used for this blog post — healthy, strong and happy. So his spirit is still with us, I’m guessing because he knows how very much we miss him.

      Thank-you again from the bottom of our hearts.

      Lili, Scott & Megan


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