Stray cats show up all the time. I live in a semi-urban, semi-rural area. Dogs, cats, even chickens are all over the place. I even had a possum in the house last summer – not by choice mind you. When stray cats show up, there are two conditions that take care of them: 1. I don’t feed them and shoo them away, and 2. Scaredy Cat does not like them, especially stray toms who tend to have only one thing in mind, and she won’t have any part of it.
However, this little guy was different. He was nothing but skin and bone, and yet was as sweet as could be. He did not hiss, fight, or spray. The poor thing was so thin, I couldn’t just shoo him off. I set out a bowl for him, and he gobbled it down so quickly he almost made himself throw up.
Beyond being hungry and alone, there was something else about this stray. He was extremely friendly and tame. Even Scaredy Cat did not mind his presence. During those first few days, she tolerated him. There was no fighting, though occasionally there were subdued hisses. Those hisses were brought about because this little guy, who I called Stray, tried so hard to be friends with Scaredy Cat. He would bow his head and try to rub up against her, which she would tolerate at times, or would return a little hiss to let him know she wasn’t interested at the moment.
I enjoy Scaredy Cat. She was quite a challenge her first year, being feral. She does not act like a domestic cat. She prefers to be outdoors. When she does come inside, either to eat or during bad weather, she does not climb on anything. She does not claw or scratch. Likewise, she does not like laying on my lap or any of the normal forms of cat cuddling. She has her own special way.
Stray is the exact opposite. A few days after July 4th, we were experiencing a typical hot summer day. Stray was panting, which is not a good thing for a cat to do, so I allowed him to come inside to cool off. He curled up on a mat on the kitchen floor and made himself at home. I showed him the litter box, and that was all it took. He used it almost immediately. Later, he came over to me and climbed up onto my lap. This poor thing was clearly domesticated, and had been in a home.
Over the following days, he continued to hang around. Meal time was a bit tough, as he would eat his food as well as Scaredy Cat’s. He often acted like a dog given two bones, dashing between his bowl and Scaredy Cat’s dish. She does not like standing her ground and chasing him away from her food. I took to giving him a bowl on the deck, and helping Scaredy Cat inside so she could eat her meal in peace.
The thing about Stray is that he tries so hard. He follows Scaredy Cat around, and nuzzles up to her, or lays down as close to her as she will allow. She has moved from tolerating him, to accepting him. The hissing has slowly given way to returning his submissive intentions with mild sniffs.
As this has gone on for almost three weeks, and given that Scaredy Cat now accepts him as part of her family, it was officially decided that he would become a permanent fixture. As I write this, he is at the West Columbia Animal Clinic getting his shots and being neutered. I believe once he is neutered, causing his hormone and pheromone scents to change, Scaredy Cat will take to him even more, and may even return some of the loving attention he sends her way.
He spent the night inside as he was not to eat prior to his operation. His previous domestication became even more evident. He stayed quiet on a comfy chair until I began to prepare for bed, at which time he went, without coaxing or hesitation, right to the bed himself. He did not claw or knead the covers as many cats do. He nuzzled me for a bit while I read. When the reading light went out, he stretched himself out by my knees, and there he slept as if he had done so for his entire little life.
Taking him to the clinic this morning, the vet required a name. Stray had been a placeholder. I had given this matter some thought. He appeared on the deck on July 4th. On top of that, I have been working hard on the Independent Publishing of my first book. So Indie is his name, and now he has a home.