Homeless Man's Cat Is Returned

Published February 2010

Daniel's Story

Fifty-eight year old Daniel Harlan had fallen on hard times. Originally from Muskogee, Oklahoma, he worked in construction most of his adult life . When his luck turned bad, and jobs dried up in his home state, he bought a motor home hoping to move around the country seeking work. When the motor home broke down, he had to sell it and bought an old truck instead. When the truck turned out to be a lemon, it went too - and Harlan ended up homeless and out of work in northern California.

But through it all, he had Samantha, a silver tabby and white Exotic Shorthair purchased for more than $2000 in better times. Daniel and his feline companion panhandled on the streets of San Francisco during the day. At night, they had a tent in a homeless encampment under a freeway off-ramp.

Samantha was Harlan's constant companion. She gave him love and peace of mind.

One day, Harlan tied leash-trained Samantha to his tent and walked to a nearby store to buy food for himself and his pet. When he returned, Samantha was gone! Somebody had taken her, leash and all!

Harlan was in a panic!

He searched everywhere in the surrounding area. He contacted local police. He went to the SPCA and the animal shelter. No one had seen his beloved Samantha.

Weeks passed. Harlan was devastated. In desperation, he contacted the local newspaper, The Chronicle. Months earlier, a photographer from the newspaper had actually taken a photo of Harlan and Samantha while working on a human interest story about street people. The newspaper agreed to run the photo and Harlan's story about his search for his missing cat.

It was his last hope to find his Samantha ...

Tom's Story

Tom Neville, was driving to work one cold, rainy morning and spotted a soaking wet cat tied up under the freeway. Dogs were nearby and the cat seemed to be in danger of getting mauled. Tom stopped his car to see if he could help the cat. He asked around, but nobody knew anything about the cat ... so he picked up the bedraggled feline, put it in his car and took her to his waterfront office, where he is a management assistant for a hotel chain.

Her hair was matted and she had fleas and sores, so he gave her a bath, combed her matted coat, fed her. She curled up in a warm bed and seemed content. The weeks passed and the cat thrived. Tom started looking for a permanent home for her.

Then he read in the newspaper about Samantha, a homeless man's missing cat. It had a picture ... and the picture looked like the cat he had rescued.

Tom was torn. He believed he'd given the cat a new lease on life. He didn't want to see the animal go back to being homeless, yet he wanted to do the right thing. He thought about it for hours. Finally coming to a decision, he contacted the homeless man through information from The Chronicle story.

Samantha's Story

When they met for the first time, Harlan told Tom about his life with Samantha. As the homeless man poured out his heart to Tom, Tom realized how much Harlan cared for the cat, and how much love and meaning Samantha gave to his life. Tom invited Harlan to his office to see the cat to be sure it was Samantha.

When Harlan entered the room and saw Samantha sitting on Tom's desk, he broke down in tears.

Tom offered to buy the cat, but Harlan said he couldn't sell her. So Tom gave Samantha back, along with some cat food and $40 to help out. He also gave the cat a standing invitation to stay in his office, any night.

Harlan used the money to buy a new collar and leash for Samantha along with a cart on wheels she could ride in, a sleeping bag and a few necessities.

Samantha, the cat, looked at Harlan with her striking copper eyes and purred.

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