It’s funny how cats find us and know instinctively that our house has more to offer than their own homes. Take Sam, for example. He lived two doors away, the spoilt cat of a loving couple with their only son who worshipped Sam. Was he content with this life style? It would appear not. 

Yoo Hoo - it's Me - Sam. I'm hiding!I noticed him first when he started to come into my back garden and hang out with Billy, Timmy and Joey. His sleek velvety smooth black coat, glistening in the spring sunshine, was a stark contrast to the different shades of ginger of Garfield, Biggles, Charlie, Billy, Timmy and Joey.  

He would sit on a low wall in the garden and watch as I hung out my washing, an inscrutable expression on his face. Almost as if he was a holiday rep with an invisible clip board containing a questionnaire which he put a tick or a cross in the relevant boxes if I matched up to the criteria.

I could never tell what he was thinking about. Was he comparing my freshly washed whites with those of his own Humans? Were my ‘coloureds’ more faded than the bright line of multi-coloured tops that blew in the early spring breeze on his Human’s washing line? 

He had a nice nature; he was very polite, with impeccable manners and never tried to eat the food in the cat bowls. He and Timmy often spent time playing together and sometimes when I returned home from a trip out somewhere, he would be curled up alongside him, his shining black coat and Timmy’s deep ginger one a perfect combination against the green of the chair they slept on.

Had I forgotten that Timmy had said Sam was sleeping over? I looked at the calendar – no notes to say that he was booked in. But they got on so well, that I didn’t worry about it. Sam went home went it suited him and I never fed him and he didn’t try to take anything. 

Sam started foraging in the toy box for something to play with.  He dropped a catnip mouse at my feet and sat down with his head to one side expectantly. I picked it up and threw it up the stairs but before I could sit back down again, he had retrieved it and brought it back to me. ‘Ah,’ I said to him. ‘You’re a retriever!’ He grinned and started to move sideways in anticipation of the direction I would throw the mouse. I threw it back upstairs and off he bounded, three at a time, until he found it. He made an elaborate show of batting it down the stairs, one stair at a time until the mouse landed at the bottom and once again it was dropped at my feet.

I started to find various toys out in the garden. I knew none of my cats had ever done that sort of thing before so presumed that Sam was taking toys to play with. A few times his Human would knock at the front door with a soggy mouse or ball which he had taken home with him, so when he came round to play I frisked him before he went back home again to make sure he hadn’t secreted any toys about his person. 

Day by day Sam would arrive after breakfast and stay till supper. He spent that time playing, grooming, sleeping, and getting to know all about me, and Garfield, Biggles, Charlie, Billy, Timmy and Joey. They all got on well together and there were never any fights or arguments as the introductory period was so gradual. So when Sam did finally move in more than a year later, the transitional period was painless and trauma free.

He became good friends with all of the cats. He knew where the toys were kept and which toys gave the most interactive play value and which ones were best for solitary pursuits. He knew the best places to hide to ambush any legs that walked by unsuspectingly, whether they were furry legs or legs without fur.

Sam is very vocal and has his own dialect that he uses a great deal to communicate. If he is looking for me he calls out: ‘oooohooooh,’ to which, I’d reply, ‘I’m here, Sam!’ and he’d come bouncing to find me, a look of pleasure on his face. Well, I’m assuming it was a look of pleasure. Having a jet-black face, it was hard to tell what Sam’s expressions were. Only his eyes changed from mood to mood.

However, before Sam decided to move from his own perfectly loving home to ours, two terrible tragedies occurred which were to change our lives forever.

To be continued... 

© Pauline Dewberry 2002

Dogs Come when Called

"Dogs come when called. Cats take a message and get back to you."

"Of course, every cat is really the most beautiful woman in the room."

Edward Verrall Luca (essayist)

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