There are a great many stray and feral cats where I live. I see a lot of them at least once per day, others several times per week, and some only on very rare occasions.
There is the black Persian who, despite matted and dirty fir and the missing top canine tooth, is a very friendly feline often jumping my patio fence to rub against my legs, rolling over and offering some belly for rubbing, and talking to me incessantly when possible, purring the whole time.
There is the medium-haired calico who demonstrates continued curiosity about me, remains aloof yet talks to me when possible, has allowed me to brush against a bit of fur every now and then, and continually fights hesitation about entirely giving in to the wish to be petted and loved in response to my constant cooing and talking.
There is the black-and-white who loves to sleep on top of cars, often can be seen flying through the neighborhood like a wild beast, and loves to play, literally chasing anything that moves.
There are others, of course, but that short list brings me to my point: my new buddy.
I first saw this fella a few weeks ago. I stepped outside onto the patio and was startled by the abrupt and lightning-fast movement of something leaping onto the fence and then to the other side. I’m accustomed to wildlife in this area and have been greeted by raccoons, opossums, snakes, squirrels, birds, and other creatures, but they’ve always been on the outside of the fence. This time the interloper was on the inside and trying desperately to get away from me. I think we were both equally frightened.
Once outside the patio fence, the cat stopped and turned, then meowed inquisitively and walked casually back toward me until within just a few feet. There the feline sat, occasionally speaking, but mostly just listening to me talk.
It was cool enough at that time for me to have the windows open, so it was with some amusement that after going to bed later we were all brought to attention by the visitor coming back onto the patio, finding the bedroom window, and sitting just outside speaking constantly and looking for attention. This didn’t go over well with The Kids, of course, and I soothed their irritated hackles by remaining inside and giving them plenty of love. That didn’t negate my concern for the visitor.
Several days passed without seeing the cat again, then one day — during the day — I was once again visited. This time I was able to see the poor thing was thin. No, I’m not talking horribly thin with ribs showing, but I am talking thinner than body size warranted. After exchanging greetings with the fur person, I went inside, grabbed a handful of cat food, and went back outside to see if it would be acceptable. It was. It also marked the beginning of a now blossoming relationship.
Although still leery of me to a certain degree, the cat more and more visits and talks and demonstrates increasing trust. Mind you, I continue to provide food when appropriate, and I’m quite sure that doesn’t hurt one bit. Just today we enjoyed three meals together, although it was more me watching the cat food disappear and not so much eating anything. This has gone on for the last week or so and I believe I see an improvement in the weight and overall demeanor of my new buddy.
From time to time I’ve noticed sores on the cat, but nothing that seemed terribly brutal and all that appeared to be from fighting. He also has some spots on his nose that I’ve not been able to identify (perhaps moles, sores, freckles or scars). Because of this, I always make sure I wash my hands thoroughly with antibacterial soap and very hot water after I touch him — something that is still rare and consists mainly of me being sniffed and rubbed against. Technically, the cat’s doing the rubbing and I’m just providing a welcoming surface upon which to do it.
I intend to keep feeding my visitor in the hopes of nurturing it a bit. In the meantime, I suppose I should come up with a name. Continuing to call it “kitty” just seems lazy. I’d welcome any suggestions for names if you have any. I do already have a few ideas, of course, but they’re quick picks that didn’t get much thought.
And yes, I’d love to adopt the little beauty. If I didn’t already have four of them running my life for me, I’d consider an attempt. I’m smart enough never to introduce an adult cat into an existing population. Other than that, making sure the cat is healthy would be simple enough to do, and any communicable diseases (e.g., FIV or FeLV) would immediately preclude it from being around The Kids. All of that means it will probably remain a stray. That doesn’t mean I can’t continue to feed it and try to make sure it gets some love and attention.
Oh, and while I suspect it’s a male, I can’t be certain of that and don’t have an easy way to figure it out unless he/she cooperates fully (including lifting its skirt momentarily and showing me what it’s hiding under there). For that reason, pardon me if I mix and match my pronouns, or use genderless terms for this little critter.