Well the years rolled by and Sammy eventually passed away at the ripe old age of 16. Poor Sammy! He got to be a dispeptic old man towards the end, hobbling around the house, complaining that his cat food wasn't as tasty as he remembered from when he was a kitten. Still, he was a great companion, and we miss him very much. We like to imagine him lounging around in kitty Nirvana, where there is always a convenient patch of sunshine to lie in, and nobody ever makes you take a bath.

Suzie is old and creaky but still in good spirits, and seems to appreciate getting more attention than she used to. She's gone almost totally blind due to high blood pressure, and it's somewhere between pathetic and hysterical to see her walking confidently across the room only to bonk headfirst into the wall. She's fine, though, as long as we don't rearrange the furniture. We moved a chair once and you could just see the puzzlement on her tiny face as she plowed into something that hadn't been there before, and, by god, shouldn't be there now. She plopped down and meowed until we put the chair back, and now all is well.

It's not like we're not treating her for the high blood pressure. We take her on regular appointments to the kitty doctor, who, as far as we know, puts a tiny cuff on her front leg and squeezes a grape-sized air sac until it inflates. At least, I don't know how else they would take her blood pressure.

No, far from not treating her high blood pressure, we have a complex regimen of pills that we give her to control it. It's an expensive regimen, too -- those little diamond-shaped pills are quite pricey, so Suzie's health is costing us not a little. We have to cut the pills in half before we give them to her to make the dosage correct, and the pills are small to begin with. We do this by putting the pill onto a plate and then cutting it with a sharp knife. Frequently, pill parts go shooting around the room, and we spend a lot of time crawling around, looking for weirdly shaped little pieces of cat pill that are all too expensive. Fortunately, Suzie greatly appreciates our concern for her welfare, and happily swallows the pills, purring and rubbing her cheeks against our fingers in appreciation for the time, trouble, and expense we go to for her benefit.

I'm kidding, of course. Like all cats (especially ones who think they are princesses), Suzie does not appreciate our attempts to give her the pills. We have gone through a rapid evolution of how we try to get her to take them. At first, we put them in her mouth and waited until she swallowed. It didn't take her long to figure out this out, so she started faking her swallows. She'd swallow, we'd put her down, and then she'd spit the pill out, looking very pleased with herself.

After that, we started looking for the pill before we put her down. She learned to swallow and then hide the pill under her tongue. We'd put her down, and then she'd spit it out again. In response, we started looking under her tongue before we put her down. This obviously stimulated her to bring all her wily resources to bear on the problem. She started hiding the pill in her cheek somewhere -- we still don't know exactly where. We'd put her down, and -- so we thought -- she'd rush off to hide behind the couch, sometimes bonking headfirst into things on the way in her haste, properly chastised about having been made to swallow her pill. Our happy fiction that we were prevailing came to an end when we looked behind the couch one day and discovered a little pile of pills bonded together by congealed cat spit. Now we set her down and then watch her for a long time, and prevent her from going anyplace clandestine. I still don't think she swallows intentionally, but hopefully the pill dissolves on its own eventually.

We also had a bad discovery about their names. Previously I had said how pleased we were that they were named just Sam and Suzie, unlike the silly names of their ancestors. Unfortunately, someone reminded us of the song Muskrat Love, by the Captain and Tennille. It goes something like this:

Muskrat Suzie, Muskrat Sam
Do the jitterbug out in Muskrat Land
And they shimmy... Sam is so skinny

And they whirl and they twirl and they tango
Singing and jinging a jango
Floating like the heavens above
Looks like Muskrat Love

Nibbling on bacon, chewing on cheese
Sam says to Suzie, Honey, would you please be my Mrs.
Suzie says yes with her kisses
Now he's tickling her fancy, rubbing her toes
Muzzle to muzzle, now, anything goes as they wriggle,
Sue starts to giggle

There, did I infect your brain with that awful song? Someone pointed this out to us, and we fearfully checked the dates. Yes, "Muskrat Love" was a number one hit the year Sam and Suzie were born. At least we don't have to break the news to Sam that he was named for a muskrat.