Samuel L. Catson Fled a High-Kill Florida Shelter and Met Me in Maine


There was just something about Samuel L. Catson.

Maybe it was his huge head, thick and round with the fat pads of a virile tomcat. Maybe it was his lean, hard body, shaped by years of life on the streets. Or maybe it was the tiny little white locket and the white spot on his tummy, which reminded me of a kitty-size Speedo.

He reminded me of my first cat, Castor, another big black tomcat with a white button on his stomach.

I first heard about Samuel from my fellow Catster columnist Dorian Wagner. Last year, she became heavily involved in organizing transports of cats from the overcrowded high-kill shelters in her south Florida home to safety and rescue in the north.

Samuel was one of those cats in Florida, and he had tested positive for FIV — not surprising for an unneutered cat who had spent so many years on the streets, and nothing that can’t be managed in a caring home, but a certain death sentence for a kitty in a high-kill shelter.

Last month, Dorian arranged to get Samuel and 15 other cats transported from Florida to Maine, where I live, in an epic journey that she dubbed (and hashtagged) the #16catroadtrip.

And best of all, Samuel was coming to HART of Maine, the shelter where I volunteer, so I’d get to meet the big guy in person! HART is a no-kill shelter that actually has a whole room in its cage-free facility dedicated to housing FIV-positive cats.

As soon as I heard that Samuel had landed at HART, my heart raced: I was finally going to meet him. I felt like a screaming fangirl at a rock concert.

On Saturday, April 20, the fateful day came. I drove the 20 minutes to HART’s shelter in Cumberland and prepared to clean my two favorite rooms, Isolation (where our diabetic cats live) and Intake (just what it sounds like), where Samuel was staying at the time.

Was he as wonderful and sweet as everyone said he was? I didn’t have much of a chance to find out while I was cleaning, but I did spend a few minutes with him after I’d completed my duties.

Yes, he totally is that sweet. He’s so calm. So gentle. His soft, yellow-green eyes gaze enticingly at anyone who approaches him.

He’s the spittin’ image of my beloved Castor-cat. I got a little teary-eyed as I stroked him and he pushed his giant cheek into the palm of my hand and purred.

Last week, Samuel was moved into the FIV room, and I visited him after a hectic morning of cleaning and helping to make room in Intake for a bunch of cats who were being rescued from a bad situation.

Sam was his usual chill self, stretched out on a shelf that was barely long enough to contain his massive body, watching the world go by. He’s getting used to his roommates now, and I know it won’t be long before he makes friends with the other cats and he’s able to stretch out full-length and show off his huge, handsome self.

Samuel’s not going to die just because he has FIV. He has a home. I know someone’s bound to fall in love with him bring him into their family. But even if nobody ever adopts Samuel, the folks at HART will provide him with love and care for the rest of his days.

Would you help to transport a cat to safety? Have you ever transported a cat yourself or adopted a cat who came from a high-kill shelter? Please share your stories in the comments!

About JaneA Kelley: Punk-rock cat mom, science nerd, animal shelter volunteer, and all-around geek with a passion for bad puns, intelligent conversation, and role-play adventure games. She gratefully and gracefully accepts her status as chief cat slave for her family of feline bloggers, who have been writing the cat advice column, Paws and Effect, since 2003. JaneA dreams of making a great living out of her love for cats.

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