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Hello my name is Amigo. Amigo is Spanish for friend. I'm going to tell you how I got my name and in the process a new life!
It was January 2007, I was a feral cat living in the Pilsen neighborhood in Chicago. I use to pal around the neighborhood with my friends, my best buddy was a cat named Pedro. One day Pedro had a bad head wound and a nice couple took him inside their house. I am a good friend you see, so I was worried. I stood outside their house crying, yowling, calling for Pedro to come back out. I even started peeing on their front door. Pedro was right on the other side of that door, I could smell him! Pedro never came back outside. I later found out his wound healed and the couple found him a good home. I was still outside and feral.
I continued to visit this house because they put out some delicious food! I'd often bring my friends over too. I was a pretty social cat, had a lot of girlfriends, my big cheeks really attracted the ladies. Sometimes this house would put out this suspicious contraption and put the best smelling food inside...I didn't fall for it, but many of my friends did.
About this time I became good friends with a cat named Sad Sam, he's a tabby guy who always looked sad. Sam was a great hunter. He and I would tag team and take down some of the Chicago's biggest rats! I'd often leave some souvenirs behind in the yard of this house, just to show off. Sam and I were leery of these people though. We'd seen some of our cat friends go inside the house and never come back out! Some cat friends came back out and were missing parts, like the tip of their ear and then-some.
Then one day my friend Sad Sam was tricked and trapped!!! He was gone for a few days and then reappeared. We stayed away from that house for a few weeks!!...but then after a few weeks Sad Sam wasn't in the mood to chase the ladies or go fighting anymore. He just like to chill out, all the time. I got antsy and left him behind.
Whenever any of my cat friends weren't feeling well, were injured, or if I'd find kittens I would take them to this house and the humans would help them. I took a number friends and kittens to them. Sometimes they'd come back all healed and healthy, sometimes I'd never see them again, but I had a good feeling about it all so I continued.
It was a beautiful spring day (2007) and I was hungry. Usually there wasn't any food in the yard during the day, but on this one day there was some raw chicken! It was inside of that contraption I often saw my friends get stuck in...oh, it smelled so good, I couldn't resist. I went for it, and I got trapped! It got worse from there, I was in a very scary place for a while, then I didn't feel well, then I was inside this house and although it was cozy and warm, I was not happy at all! Finally they opened the door one day and I was free to leave, but it was a cold day so I decided to stay one more day, but then they kept trying to touch me and give me attention, I was done, I needed out. When they opened the door again I bolted! Finally back in my yard. I stayed away from that yard for a couple weeks.
Sad Sam and I rekindled our friendship and could often be seen strolling the neighborhood together. We started visiting the house with that good food again. This time the lady would come running out with some even better food whenever we showed up. Sam didn't trust her, and he would take off, but I would eat until I was so full I'd throw up. She served the best food. She'd sometimes try and pet me, i'd run when she did. I didn't like to be touched.
We got into a routine. I would show up first thing in the morning get some breakfast and again when these people would get back from work around 5pm. Sad Sam wouldn't always join me, he didn't like that they would try to pet us. I soon realized the petting wasn't all that bad, or maybe I just didn't notice it was happening because I was eating some delicious food!
A few months passed and soon I don't know what was coming over me but I started to really like this lady who was feeding me this delicious food. Her name is Yvette and she won my heart through my stomach. I started rubbing on her and really loving her. One day she invited me inside, and I obliged. What a nice place this was! Food, comfy beds, some nice cats and even the dogs were nice! I decided I'd stay inside from now on.
Sometimes I'd look out the window and see my friend Sad Sam outside. He'd sit there staring at me, I tried to tell him to come inside, that it's pretty awesome...but Sad Sam continued his life outside until January 2009. It was the coldest day of the year and Sad Sam had had enough of the cold weather. Sad Sam jumped inside of Yvette's car. Yvette was startled, especially since he'd never even allowed her to touch him. While in the car Yvette had a talk with him and explained she doesn't allow "inside-outside privileges", once you come in you stay in. Sad Sam agreed and he came inside. Sam was no longer sad. He was living upstairs on the 2nd floor of the house and I lived on the 1st floor. Sam really fell in love with the cat that lived on the 2nd floor, I didn't like her because she was awfully mean to me, to all cats in fact, well, except Sam... somehow Sam won her over. Sam and Smudgy are living happily ever after upstairs and I am living happily ever after downstairs with two cats named Bucky Bloo and Pixie.
So, you see, I am a good friend and that's how I got my name Amigo. Sam and I are both FIV+, we probably caught it from one of the many girl cats we had good times with, or from fighting with some of the others male cats in the neighborhood. We've both lost many of our teeth because of this disease, but otherwise we're healthy and happy.
I sure don't miss my feral days. Please support shelters like Tree House Humane Society. Tree House helps people who are trying to help feral cats. They offer low cost spay neuter programs for feral cat caretakers and a pet food pantry for those of us who are feeding a large number of ferals and stary cats. Tree House also holds TNR workshops to teach people how the TNR process works. TNR stands for Trap-Neuter-Return.
**Amigo and Sam were TNR-ed because they were feral, Pedro was TNA (trap-neutered-adopted) because he was friendly. Socializing feral cats isn't widely advocated. Sterilized feral cats live happy lives in their community. If they aren't sterilized they fight and roam a lot more, endangering their lives.
Amigo and Sam were socialized on their own terms. They were living happily outside and made their own decisions about us. We offered our friendship, over and over - this is what makes this whole experience so special. These feral cats took a leap of faith and trusted us. It's truly the best feeling!**