Sammy is the old man of the family. He's 17 years old, and is a very gentle soul. His ginger and white tabby coat is very soft, and he loves to snuggle.
Back in 2002 I was working for a regional grocery store chain in southern California. One late June morning when I got to work I saw a beautiful tiny orange kitten rolling around on the sidewalk, loving the warmth. As soon as a human would come within 10 feet he would dash under a hedge and hide. Several of us at the company started leaving food and water out for him, but he never allowed a human to get close.
After a couple of weeks of hide-and-seek I decided that something had to be done, so I rented a trap and set it bside the hedge one afternoon after I got out of work. The beautiful kitten checked it out carefully. Imagine if you will a privet hedge about 4 feet square and maybe a couple feet high. If you've seen privets (or euonymus) hedges you'll recall that they have an internal structure sort of like a tree, with branches leading to smaller branches leading to yet smaller branches. After I set the trap and walked back to my pickup to watch, I saw the hedge shaking, then I saw a tiny little orange head poke up through the top of the hedge. This tiny kitten then walked along the top of the hedge, over to the trap, and looked it over carefully. The attraction of they stinky wet food in the trap finally wont out, and the kitten dropped to the sidewalk and walked in. He started eating and didn't even notice when the door dropped behind him. He didn't notice that he was trapped until he saw me walking toward him, then he panicked and started screaming for help.
I took him to the vet for a checkup. They determined that he had a severe respiratory condition and infections in both eyes and both ears. I brought him home a couple days later, and we isolated him in the bathroom. When I let him out of the carrier in the bathroom I expected him to hiss and spit and back into a corner. I opened the door to the carrier then sat on the floor on the opposite side of the room. He walked out of the carrier, checked out the folded towel I had left for a bed, checked out the food and water and litter box, then walked to me, climbed up in my lap, and curled up for a purr. He has been my little snuggle buddy ever since.
He gave us a horrible scare a few years ago. When we lived in central Iowa we used to let the out in our fenced back yard under supervision. One day, though, Sammy vaulted our 6 foot privacy fence, dropped into the neighbor's yard, and disappeared. We looked everywhere but couldn't find him. We printed posters with his photo and stuck them to power poles within about a mile radius, and went looking for him every evening after dark. We never did see a sign of him. But in late December, after he had been missing 3 months, I got a call from a neighbor. This neighbor has a big Golden Retriever that lives outside during the day but comes in the house at night. The human noticed that there was less dog food in the dog's dish when he let the dog out in the morning then when he brought the dog in at night, so he set a trap. The next morning he had Sammy in the trap. He called me at the number on the poster, I picked him, and I took him to the vet for a checkup and to be microchipped. Since then Sammy does NOT go outside unless he's in a carrier.