Hi! I'm Guy. Well, now I am - I can't even remember what my name used to be, although occasionally Sam sounds familiar. I live with a Sam now and sometimes I get confused. This spring (2007), I finally got brave enough to let someone help me out. I'm getting too old for this scavenging for food and looking for safe places to sleep.
Boy what a story I have. Of course, my people can only guess at my story since they don't speak my language, but I overhear them telling visitors what they think and they pretty much guessed right.
I only got to meet my new people about 5 or so years ago - I used to sneak inside their house in the middle of the night (thank heaven for cat doors!) to eat. They have cat food all over the place. I was pretty shy and had quite a variety of places I'd go to find food. This was only one of them.
When I started out in life, long, long ago, my mom belonged to a family who had young children (the human kind) and when she (my mom) got pregnant, they thought it would be fun to have kittens around the house. We lived in a college neighborhood and when one of the local college girls saw us, she wanted to take one of us home with her. She came by a few times to get to know us and finally decided she liked my colors. I've faded a bit since those young days. This is one part of my story my new people always get wrong - I was chosen, not just found and my mom had a real home. They always think I was a foundling or something and learned to like humans early on. I didn't have to learn, they were always very nice to me.
I had fun with my college girl for a few months while I was getting bigger. But she got tired of changing the litter box and started leaving me outside when she wasn't home. I still got to come in and sleep on her bed at night - unless she had a boy over...
Being outside was ok with me. I loved chasing birds and bugs, even though I had to stay out of peoples way - and cars can be murder! Anyway, I had some nice times back then and she almost always remembered to feed me. Water is pretty easy to find when you can roam around outside. And of course, I kind of liked not having to go back to the litter box whenever I needed to 'go'. Much more convenient to be able to 'go' wherever you are.
Anyway, things started to go wrong when my college girl had to do something she called 'finals'. She started leaving me outside all night all the time. It got scary. It's really hard to find safe places to sleep when there are people at home and dogs are let out of their dog-runs. There are also some scary creatures that roam around at night. There's this one critter that has stripes across it's eyes, a big fluffy tail and even though it walks on all fours, when it sees a cat it stands on it's hind legs. It chases cats - frankly I think I'd be dead if I'd ever been caught.
I started finding places to sleep further and further away from home, sometimes I didn't even get back home until the following afternoon or night. Sometimes I'd find a place where the people were gone and I could stay a couple of days. One day when I went home, my college girl was gone. I'm sure she called and called for me, but I was too far away to hear. I kept coming back for a few weeks, but she never came back. Eventually new people started living in our house and I thought maybe they would start feeding me. Of course I was very shy at first so it took me a while before I let them see me. When I finally showed myself and discovered they had cat food outside, I was so thrilled. But when they saw me they threw rocks at me and shooed me away.
That was when I first realized that humans can be dangerous too. I spent the next few years roaming around the area, finding places for a day or two at a time, and sneaking food when I knew no humans were around. It got harder and harder to keep my fur looking nice. I eventually gave up on that and realized if I was going to be sleeping in mud or stickers it was too much effort. I also came down with a few colds which really took a toll on my vocal cords over time. I used to have a cat-voice to be proud of, but now I only squeak. I started having trouble with my ears. They would itch all the time. I've heard my humans say I must have had some bad cases of ear mites and that's why my ears look the way they do. All I know is they itched bad!
One of the worst times every year was when I had this unyielding compulsion to go out and find girl cats. I would get in cat fights and end up with abscesses and be sick from infection. I would get chased off by humans who didn't want me getting their girl cats pregnant. I had no control over my actions - it was compulsive I tell you! I only learned recently that if I'd been neutered as a kitten I wouldn't have had to do all that roaming and terrifying screaming and defending myself every year.
My life got so bad that I was scared of everything. You wouldn't catch me near a human in those days. Off and on I'd find a feline pal and we'd hang-out but most felines don't seem to make it when they're on their own. I guess I had special qualities...or a special curse. My motto was never cross a street when there are cars, watch out for those mean critters and dogs, don't stay in one place too long, never sleep anywhere really comfortable because you'll really fall asleep and might be discovered. Oh, and never approach a human, never make eye contact, and if you get cornered, hiss loudly and don't stop until they leave you alone.
It took me years to get comfortable with my new people, maybe because I only showed up here about six days each year. And they had other cats that didn't really like me being there. But this family didn't ever mind feeding me. That made a huge difference to me. I even got brave enough to call for food when the outside dish was empty. And in the spring when I really didn't feel well, she started giving me some amazing canned food. Wow! I decided to let her pick me up (probably I was delirious with fever) and bring me to the clinic. So now, I've finally been neutered thanks to Forgotten Felines.
I decided after the procedure that I'd just hang around this place. There's always food and plenty of catnip. And in an amazing turn of events, they don't mind when I come inside their house! They let me sleep on the carpet, or on a rug by the door, or on the upstairs sofa. No one ever tries to chase me away and I've started grooming again. I really look pretty good compared to when I got here. We did have one unnerving episode when I thought they were throwing rocks at me, but it turned out they were throwing a ball for me to play with. I'm just not there yet. Maybe someday.