In observance of President’s Day week, this post shall honor the cat who most echoes the statesmanship and service befitting the highest office in the land.
By which, of course, I mean the cat who looks the most like Martin Van Buren.
It would be 57 varieties of wrong to compare cats to politicians in any substantive way. But when it comes to 19th-century winged sideburns, it’s open season. If you stir together a little Flock of Seagulls and a little House of Lords, you get that timeless style icon, our debonair 8th president. Throw in whiskers, and you have Sam the man cat.
If you were, just hypothetically, looking for a feline politician, Suite A wouldn’t be a bad place to start. We’ve got Taft (the ever-expanding Eek). We’ve got Nixon (the continually-watching-you Dobro). We’ve got Silent Cal Coolidge (have you heard Philippa orate recently? I thought not).
For extra credit, we even have Marie Antoinette, the beautiful cat with the Gallic name and the Continental ego. (As I typed that, I heard Cecille mutter, Quelle moron! Which, although I haven’t used French since high school, I’m pretty confident means, “Yet another inspired and brilliant insight!”) Let ’em eat cake indeed.
But back to the whiskered wonder. If you’re looking for a cat who resembles the man we elected in 1837 (and who isn’t?), look no further than Sam.
Believe it or not – and I can’t blame you if you don’t – resembling Martin Van Buren is not Sam’s greatest achievement. No, our hairy guy has attained a feat most politicians never even approach: niceness.
Sam’s niceness isn’t born of a cake-walk life, either. Surrendered by his humans to a high kill shelter before being elected to Tabby’s Place, Sam comes from the Barley school of economics messiness. With runny eyes and itchy, funky skin, Sam was a squinting, scratching, allergy-riddled specimen. At his worst, poor Sam could barely even squeeze those peepers open for all the gunk in them, prompting some visitors to ask, “does the hairy cat have no eyes?” Sam’s official diagnosis is feline viral rhinopneumonitis and atopy, which is just about as horrible as it sounds.
At one point, a well-meaning friend suggested that perhaps Sam would be best served by our removing his eyes. He’d be blind, yes – but wouldn’t that be better than constantly itching and agitating and having his eyes jammed full of gunk?
Consider that the nuclear option – and we weren’t ready to push that big red button yet. Tabby’s Place has found our calling in hovering over smoldering wicks, painstakingly nurturing them back to full flame; we weren’t about to snuff out Sam’s spark – or his eyes – without a fight.
And a fight it would be. Antibiotics bounced off of Sam’s situation. The strong, safe drug that usually annihilates allergies provoked an international crisis exceedingly rare reaction in Sam, laming his immune system. It was back to the situation room for a new plan. At the moment, we have our brave boy on allergy shots, antiviral drops and a tear stimulant, and a very conservative dose of an immunosuppressant. Sam’s treatment plan continues to be the stuff of politics – which is to say, inscrutable and delicate and up-and-down.
And profoundly worth it.
We have reason to believe that Sam’s newest protocol is starting to work, as his eyes are open and he seems more comfortable, skin and peepers and whiskers and all. Now, when you walk into Suite A, you can actually see Sam lovingly staring back at you, rather than having to just imagine his eyes where they should be. (Dobro, of course, is always happy to stare back at you. Make that glare. Note the absence of the adverb “lovingly.”)
Through it all, Sam has been infinitely, unbendingly, supernaturally gentle. From the toughest soil grow the sweetest peas. (I just completely made that up. But it sounds profound. And Martin Van Buren joined the Free Soil Party in his latter years, which has nothing to do with anything.) Up and down and itchy and adored, Sam’s been a snuggle-bug of presidential proportions, fast endearing himself to everyone in the commonwealth.
That’s a feat more fabulous than fixing the deficit. Or even growing Van Buren whiskers.