I usually met Sam on the red concrete steps at the rear entrance; it was the morning side and he liked the sun warming his beat-up old body after a rough night. Sam was gray--different shades--and missing most of one ear--the left, I think, and sometimes his fur was matted with blood from the evening's activities, but it's been nearly sixty years: I can't be sure. There was nothing at all gentle about Sam; I have no idea how many deaths he had in his past: a finite number, I'm sure, but who knows how many, counting rodents, birds, and other cats, most likely.
Sam was the first pet animal I knew: I was maybe four--but somehow "pet" doesn't quite fit--he was too independent for that, a child could see it. He stayed with my Uncle and Aunt across the street, or, at least, showed up for food and a nap in the sun on a regular basis. I don't remember Sam inside; he may have gone in at times for various reasons, but I see him always outside, usually in the back, in the sun, or stalking the quail in the lot next door, where my grandfather had planted blackberry bushes on the far side.
Despite his experience and general temperament, Sam was remarkably patient and forgiving with small children; I can remember hoisting him by his tail, as much as I could lift him off the steps (not much) and being looked at with a world weary cat's eye, as he waited for the experiment to cease, which only took a few seconds, given that he weighed about a third of what I did. An adult of any species would still have the scars. Animals clearly sense a difference between children and adults; Sam was the first to teach me that, and I haven't forgotten it.
RIP, old Tomcat