‘Vagabond’ Cat Makes Friends with Animals and People Throughout His Neighborhood

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We were headed out to meet a friend for dinner when a neighbor and her daughter came down the street walking their dog. She asked, “Do you know this black cat who follows us all the time? We’ve been calling him Shadow.” I bent down and put my hand out to the small kitty, and he came to me.

PHOTO: JUDITH LINDEN

I patted him and said, “Are you looking for a home? You can stay in our backyard, and if you’re still here when we get home, you can live with us.”


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As though he understood, he followed me to the backyard fence and went in when I opened the gate. When we got home from dinner, there he was, still there! That’s how Charley came into our lives.

We took him to the vet, had him chipped and neutered. The vet said he was about a year to a year-and-a-half old, and that he was just a small one. We gave him a collar with a tag bearing his name, address, and phone number.

Charley needed to learn house rules, but being a very smart boy, he caught on fast. He adored our other pets, especially the little dogs who he insisted on grooming, constantly. They didn’t seem to mind and may have liked the attention.

PHOTO: JUDITH LINDEN

Charley was a vagabond who was used to roaming the neighborhood and didn’t want to stop. We got calls from neighbors asking if it was okay to play with him and give him a treat. One stopped over to say he had fallen in their pool and wanted to know if he was alright. One man said Charley liked to hang out with him when he used the exercise machine in his garage. One neighbor said that Charley was friends with her cat. Another, in the lot behind our fence, sometimes came over looking for her orange girl kitty who was also a friend of Charley’s. Her cat would sometimes follow Charley over the fence to have a visit.

One woman came to the door really angry and carrying Charley in a pet carrier. Charley had jumped over her fence and her big dog had gotten after him. She had rescued Charley at great peril to herself and had scratches to show for it. I think Charley mistook her big white six-foot fence for ours and, since he was acrobatic, he, to his and the neighbor’s peril, hopped over it.

One day, Charley left the yard and didn’t come back. We could not find him. We searched, went online to lost pets sites and gave his picture. People offered information that didn’t turn out to be him. But one early morning four months later, the day after Thanksgiving, my spouse woke up, saw him sitting on the bedroom floor and exclaimed loudly, “Charley! Where have you been?!”

PHOTO: JUDITH LINDEN

We were overjoyed. He had let himself in the house through the two pet doors, one in the pool cage door and another in the house door, to greet us in our bedroom. Later, a neighbor from the other side of of our block came over and said she had seen the sign I had hung on the mailbox to help find Charley, and asked if he had come home. I suspect that she is a cat lover, and with Charley being such a charmer, she tried to adopt him and make him an indoor cat until she saw his picture on my sign.

Things continued more happily now that Charley was back, but then, much later in the year, Charley didn’t show up one night. He had done that before, so we figured he would be back the next day. The next day, my stepson, who lived with us at the time, was out walking when a neighbor two houses down asked if we were missing a cat. Charley’s little body was in his backyard.

He had been killed by a coyote in the night. We were devastated. We took him home and made a grave for him in his backyard. I wrote a poem for him as I do for all our pets who pass. We have separate 4″x 5″ pictures of all the pets who have lived in this house hanging on a hallway wall. Some have angel wings attached behind their pictures. I sadly gave our Charley his wings. His picture remains on our wall with the others. He is not forgotten. We miss him and we still love him.

Story submitted by Judith Linden.

This story was originally shared on The Animal Rescue Site. Share your very own rescue story here!

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