Samson the Therapy Cat

The Monster and Samson, April 2016Just to get it out of the way: Sammy’s old.  Like… older-than-the-hills old.

I’ve had Samson since he was a kitten.  Friends of mine found him sitting on the trunk of my car nearly twenty years ago, looking pitiful, and asked me to hold him until the no-kill shelter had a spot in a few weeks.  They’ve not yet told me when the opening at the no-kill shelter will be free…

Sam’s down a lot from his days as my “urban tiger” in all of his 20-something pound glory (all muscle), to being nearly skin and bones and semi-diabetic, but he’s still seeming to be happy and pain-free, so we’re not worried yet.  And, being old, Sam’s very chill around the kids.

Mostly… because he can’t get away from them even when he tries.  Cassandra, our other cat (at fourteen) is a typical calico and feisty and hides from the children, but Sam has been content to just curl up in a room with humans for the occasional pettings…

But Sam’s also figured out that the Monster’s quite, quite content to pet him.  If he approaches the Monster slowly enough and makes sure that he’s paying attention, Sam gets all the pettings he could want for a few minutes.  Until the Monster’s attention wanders, or Sam remembers he’s a cat and changes his mind, and wanders off.

Now, most of the time, I’ve been content to let it happen naturally (cat approaches boy) or not quite as naturally (boy stalks cat for five minutes as cat prowls the living room, and then boy starts petting out of the blue).  I’ve read a lot about how some people with Autism are calmed by their pets, but… the Monster’s never quite been one to seek out anything when he’s melting down, much less one of the animals around the house.

On Sunday evening, when we got back from my company’s annual outing to Hersheypark, the Monster went into a meltdown.  (He didn’t respond well to being woken up from the nap on the way back, and started insisting on his favorite – CAR – at the top of his lungs.)  Nothing was calming him, even suggesting a drink or a snack, and then Samson came wandering through the living room… and it seemed like it couldn’t hurt to try.  I scooped up Sam – he can’t get away, remember? – and took him over to the Monster on the couch.

“Monster,” I nudged him.  “Who is this?”

“This is Sammy,” he announced.  “CAR.”

“Is Sammy a car?”

“No.  Sammy is a cat,” he intoned.  And then squirmed away when I shifted as if to put Sam in his lap.

“Do you want to pet the dog?” I asked him.

“Sammy is a cat,” he said again, before the hand came out, and he started to pet and pet…

It worked, at least enough for me to get him calmed to get into bed (where the meltdown resumed for a good twenty-thirty minutes), so, we’ll see where it goes.  Though, Heaven knows what’ll happen when the inevitable happens soon enough… unless Cassie decides she’ll take one for the team and take his place as a petting-thing…

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