When we first moved into our apartment complex three years ago there was a neighborhood stray cat that would make a beeline for the storm drain any time he saw us.
When we adopted Two Socks, our little tuxedo girl kitty, and had a need for cat food in the house, we started leaving bowls of food and water out for the stray to enjoy, if he so desired. It wasn’t very long before we’d catch him eating on the balcony, but if we made eye contact with him he’d run.
It wasn’t much longer before he would meet our gaze and not run. So then we tried opening the door to just be near him. That would make him run again.
Soon he’d let us open the door and be on the balcony with him while he ate, but he wasn’t up to being touched.
And then one day, he was. We got to pet the skittish stray that we’d come to call Stormy Cat, after his propensity to go hide in the storm drain.
He soon realized that this petting business wasn’t that bad of a deal, and so we’d make a point of carefully heading outside to pet him whenever we’d see him on the porch.
That first winter was pretty cold for Austin and so we put a shelter out for him to use to stay warm. We were very excited when we saw him using it for the first time.
Before long he was using it regularly, and gradually spending more and more time on the balcony in between feeding sessions. That eventually turned into him spending most of his daylight snoozing time on our balcony, either in one of our chairs or on top of the shelter that we built for him.
Fast forward to a few months ago when we noticed him heavily favoring his right front leg. It got worse before it got better and he eventually wouldn’t put any weight on it at all. We were scared that he had broken his leg and we knew that no one else in the neighborhood would take care of him, so thanks to generous donations from friends we took him to the vet. While he was there, we had him microchipped and got his shots.
We had officially adopted him.
Today the fur has grown back on his leg from where they shaved him to clean his wounds. (He’d apparently gotten in a fight somewhere with another cat or perhaps a dog and had a pretty bad bite that had gotten infected.) We can go sit on the balcony and he’ll climb up on our shoulders for an extended snuggle of fifteen minutes or more. When we go walking the complex at night, he’ll follow us partway like a puppy would. He still spends time outside, but now he’ll happily come in and sleep all snuggled up on the bed with us at night, wanting to be let out early in the morning to go do his thing.
And earlier tonight he came in to lay at the foot of the bed, so I went into pet him. He was rubbing up against me, marking me as his. And then I stopped petting him and put my hand on the bed next to me.
And that’s when he put his paw on my hand hoping for more attention. We got a photo of it, and that photo leads this post off.
He’s still mostly an outdoor kitty, and that worries us – we don’t want him to get hurt out there – but he’s slowly, slowly acclimating to being indoors for longer and longer periods of the day. We’re holding out hope that one day we’ll have to figure out how to litter box train an adult cat, and that he’ll be inside safe with us from that point forward.
We’re really lucky that we took a semi-feral outdoor cat and turned him into a lovable, loving pet. He’s still skittish when other people come upstairs and he’s on the balcony, but he was indoors when our friends came over yesterday, and he stayed on the bed, not hiding, for several minutes before the nerves took over and he asked to be let out. I pet him briefly and told him how proud I was that he’d been able to stay as long as he did. (I know he doesn’t understand, but like so many pet owners I still talk to both of them like they know what I’m saying.) And then he scooted outside. We were worried that the experience would scare him away from wanting to come inside again, but we had nothing to worry about. Later that evening, he came upstairs and went to the door and meowed to be let in, something he’d never done before.
I hope he’s going to be a happy, healthy addition to the family for years to come.