Growltiger is our 4 or maybe 5 or possibly 3 year old, formerly feral, Maine Coon/Mutt mix. For the first couple of years of his life, Growltiger lived on the streets of Oakland. He got into fights and defended his territory- he was a big, unneutered cat. But the winters were cold, even in California, and there was rarely enough food for him to eat.
His luck changed in 2007, when he was captured in a cat trap as part of the spring Spay and Neuter campaign in which feral cats are fed and taken to the vet. When the vet examined him after altering him, she discovered that he had a wound on one paw- a big, deep bite the size of a quarter that made it difficult for Growltiger to walk. The kind volunteer who had caught Growltiger kept him in one of her spare rooms while his foot healed. She called him "Ink spot" after the mark on his foot. He went from a rail-thin cat to a well-fed 15 lb cat with an enormous head.She discovered Growltiger had a very sweet disposition, and he quickly learned to appreciate human contact and a well-placed litter box. She had decided to adopt him, adding him to her household of four cats, when his bloodwork came back:
Growltiger had FIV, the feline verson of AIDS. It wasn't a death sentence- it simply meant he shouldn't be around other cats (to whom he could transmit the disease, and easily catch other diseases because he is immunosuppressed) and might have a shorter lifespan, and become ill more frequently. The volunteer couldn't adopt Growltiger; doing so would put her cats in as much danger as it would put him.
So she put an ad on craigslist, advertising him as a "Huge, Doglike Maine Coon cat". She told herself that if she couldn't find him a home, she would put him back on the streets- she couldn't bear to have him put down. We met Growltiger in the fall and were instantly captivated by the huge grey cat with beautiful black markings around his eyes. We adopted him, and though his health issues have never made things smooth sailing, we love our cat, who we named after the poem about the piratical cat in the T.S. Elliot poem (because of the scars on his face and the notch out of his ear.