Even though the veterinarian estimated that Sampson was 10 years old back in 2012, I do not believe that to be accurate, because he is quite active and healthy 5 years later. I think it would be more accurate to say that he is approximately 11 or 12 years old today, in 2017.
Sampson is a big 15 pound cat and was named for his size and long hair! He is in better condition than he used to be, because he used to be the neighborhood bully. He made daily macho roaming rounds of finding a colony where he could be happy. That was after his previous caregiver moved away and left him behind and intact to fend for himself. Even though he’s a big cat, he’s still a bit beat up in that he has some fight scars such as some chipping on the tips of his ears and nose.
After he was abandoned, not a day went by that his travels didn’t bring him to visit my colony. It wasn’t always a friendly visit, though, as he was an untouchable feral with attitude. He would sometimes get a mean streak and suddenly attack cats that were lazing around minding their own business. He met his match one day in my colony, which includes a family of five very close cats who were thrown from a moving vehicle on a cold winter’s day. This colony also includes several other long-timers with no intention of relinquishing ownership of their domain without a fight.
Sampson made the mistake of picking a fight with a member of the family of five. He attacked JR, who was enjoying a sunning session in the cool grass. Before I could get to the cats to break up the fight, like a lightening bolt, JR’s mother and all his siblings dashed to JR’s aid from all corners of the property. All of them pounced on top of Sampson at once, giving JR the opportunity to quickly scrambled from the bottom of the tangled ball of hissing and growling cats. He dashed for cover in the woods.
In a flash, Samson also scrambled from the tangled cats and dashed for cover in the opposite direction and the family withdrew and paced to insure that they had restored balance to the colony once again. What a display of “cats help cats” that was!
Sampson didn’t try that stunt again for a very long time. He would go several days before visiting the colony again and most of the time, when passing by, he didn’t even stop to interact with the colony.
Soon, I noticed that he was limping and looking scraggly. As the days passed, the limping worsened until he was no longer walking on the foot, and I finally started trying to “gentle” him enough to get a better look at his feet. Using food as my tool, I attracted him to meaty portions and petted him while he ate. This earned his trust enough that I was able to examine the feet. There was a bad cut or puncture on a paw pad. Needless to say, a vet visit was in order and within days I had tricked him and gotten him into a dog crate.
I took Sampson to the vet to have the foot examined and took the opportunity to have him neutered, tested for disease and vaccinated. Sampson’s tests were all negative and the veterinarian grafted some skin over the wound. After his surgery, he spent a couple of days in the shelter to recover and was released. He never wandered far from the property again. One habit I cannot break him from is that he crosses the road daily to go lie in the culvert. This puts him in danger of being hit by a car. We intend to install escape proof cat fencing to put an end to this habit.
About a month after Sampson was neutered, a driver stopped in front of the house and commented on the beautiful cats. As it turned out, the true curiosity was about Sampson. They had been in search of him, because he had suddenly stopped his regular habit of visiting their place to create quite a ruckus with their cats. They were happy to have found that Sampson safe and had a permanent home.
Sampson was finally accepted into the colony and became a content member of the group. He befriended Travis and loved to snuggle with him frequently in the shelter. He now comes running as fast as he can at dinner time, and happily enters the shelter on his own to have a meal and bed down for the evening. During storms or when dogs and strangers visit the property, he runs for safety in the shelter; his safe haven from harm.