It’s a feline fairytale come true, a rags to riches story. From life as a stray cat wandering in the alleys of Cereste, a Provencal village in the Luberon, to that of a pampered pet in a posh apartment in Paris. And, not just any apartment. Sam’s new home is with the famed pianist and conductor Philippe Entremont and his wife.
There must be millions of homeless cats in France. How did this husky gray tomcat get so lucky?
The saga began last December when I decided to adopt Sam. Friends Marten and Jessica had been feeding him, but they have four other cats. Sam was especially friendly and affectionate, however he was becoming a nuisance, fighting with their cats. They needed to find a home for him.
I was in mourning at the loss of Buddy, my big black male cat, whom I had to have euthanized due to cancer. Sam seemed to be the answer to cure my sorrow. He was a delight with people, loved to be petted, purred loudly. But, he quickly decided he must be king. He made life hell for my two female cats. This would not work. I called friends, sent emails, put up posters. I was determined to find him a home. All to no avail. Some friends, including cat experts, said the kindest thing would be to have him euthanized. I could not bring myself to take this step. Since he had been surviving as a street cat in Cereste for years, a town where kind souls do feed strays, I took him back to the village with great remorse and feelings of guilt.
Sam was born under a lucky star. Along came Anne to the rescue. Shortly after his return to the streets, this kind English woman arrived to spend the winter in the apartment upstairs from Marten and Jessica. Anne and her friend Martine came to Cereste from Ireland with their dogs and horses. They have been spending the winter training for a 500 kilometer charity ride on horseback across France to raise money for the Program for Assistance Dogs for Families of Children with Autism. http://thewanderlywagons.blogspot.fr/
Anne took to Sam, who was hanging around and hungry. He soon moved in with her and her canines: Fionn, a huge lab/Rottweiler cross, and Roxy, a lab/retriever mix. Sam detests cats, but dogs are his pals. All became friends, even sleeping together. When Anne walked the dogs, Sam would follow.
But, Sam’s time was running out. Anne would soon be starting her horse trek, then return home to Ireland where she has two cats – no hope for Sam there. Once again I started the search. Friend David, a photographer with expert computer skills, made beautiful professional posters with Sam’s photo which I distributed to numerous vet offices and shops in the area. Again no response.
I also told my friend Jude Reitman about my plight with Sam. Jude is an award winning journalist and author – and devoted animal rescuer – who has been living part time in France. www.judithreitman.com She put me in touch with Amelia Tarzi, a lawyer born in Afghanistan who gave up law to work as an interpreter, the latter allowing her more time for her passion: animal rescue.
Amelia has lived in the states and Switzerland, but is now at home in Paris. However, she spends as much time as possible at an animal shelter in central France, DPA-Refuge de Thiernay, www.refuge-thiernay.com
I sent photos of Sam to Amelia who soon announced that she had found a home for the fortunate feline — but it was in Paris, some 610 kilometers away. A friend of Amelia’s is a friend of Mme. Entremont, wife of the noted musician Philippe Entremont. She had just lost a cat. The friend quickly put her in touch with animal rescuer Amelia who sent photos of many cats needing homes to Mme. Entremont. She zeroed in on Sam because he looked like the cat she had just lost.
How to get Sam to Paris? Amelia said she would pick him up at the TGV train station in Aix en Provence en route back to Paris after a job in Nice.
Sam needed to be vaccinated, micro-chipped and tested for disease before departing for the City of Lights. The first attempt to cage him for the trip to the vet failed. (See Anne’s blog at the above address for more on this fiasco.) The next morning Anne succeeded, and I took Sam to the vet where he was a prince, a surprise to all. Then, husband Bob (a dog person and a saint to put up with my cat capers), drove me and caged Sam to the train station, more than a hour away. This normally very vocal cat was amazingly subdued during the journey.
Shortly after 1 p.m. Amelia met us in the train station café, and soon street cat Sam was on his way to a new life in high-class surroundings. Released from his cage in the Paris apartment, he ran to hide behind a bookcase. During the night he emerged and, according to Amelia, got the shock of his life when he walked across the keys of his esteemed owner’s piano. He’s adjusting to life with the upper crust, and Mme. Entremont is “thrilled” with her pet rescued from Provence, says Amelia.
Jude Reitman has recently started a company, La Bedouine, specializing in skin care products handmade by Berber women in Essaouira, Morocco. http://www.labedouine.com She has moved back to her home in North Carolina where she is active in finding homes for abandoned dogs.