He showed up one day out of the blue. Prior to his appearance on my deck there had been no signs of a big burly black cat wandering around the neighborhood, let alone my yard. He appeared out of nowhere, burly and beat up and so sad looking. This sad, scruffy looking cat was and still is one of the most pathetic cats I have ever seen. I wouldn’t think he was feral, except he was unneutered and acts very feral.
I woke up one Thursday morning in May to find him on the deck. At first glance I thought he was Little Black. They look almost identical and with a passing glance could be mistaken for each other. It took my brain a few seconds to realize the cat lounging on my deck that morning was not Little Black. On closer inspection it became clear that he was bigger, has a crumpled ear from years on the streets and had “big boy” cheeks that denote an un-neutered male. He was, overall, very scruffy looking. That first day, we stared at each other, sizing each other up and gaining a realization of our situation when he suddenly jumped up and ran away. Thus my first encounter with Scruffy was short and startling for both of us.
After that first encounter I wasn’t expecting him to return. He did. I would catch him drinking heartily from the water bowl or eating ferociously whatever he could find. Things haven’t changed much over the months. I started feeding him so I could trap and neuter him, and he slowly started to trust me. He would approach the deck when I was sitting outside, he would hang around for breakfast or dinner (instead of run away when he saw me). I slowly gained his trust, then shattered it by trapping him. He disappeared for a few days after that then eventually started coming ’round again. I slowly regained his trust, then something scared him off again. I went away for a few days, and he started running away whenever I come out to feed him again.
Things are mostly the same. He disappears then reappears; trusts me then looses that trust. Currently we are in a pattern where I will find him lounging on the deck in the morning only to flee in terror when I open the door to feed them breakfast. He is still scruffy looking, the most pathetic cat I have ever seen, with the saddest most heart breaking eyes. His cheeks have deflated, post neutering, and he is a little less trusting than before surgery, but otherwise things are the same.
A few nights ago, I went outside to take care of something non-cat related. It was pouring rain Mama kitty was sitting on top of a storage container, Little Black was sitting on top of the kitty house. And to my utter shock, Scruffy was sitting in the cat house. The only reason I saw him in the dark and the rain, was he stuck his head out of the house in preparation to run. Much to my surprise he was also hanging out in the house last night when I went to change the linens. I think we scared the mutual living daylights out of each other. Poor man.
So it appears Scruffy, the cat who flees at the merest hint of a human, has taken up residence in my feral cat house at night. This explains his perpetual presence in the morning. What this means for the winter I don’t know. Mama lived in that house last winter. Not sure what this means for their social dynamic either. For a while the girls tolerated Scruffy, then Little Black went through a phase where she smacked him whenever she saw him. Now they seem to tolerate him. They don’t embrace him, but they tolerate him. These cats and their social dynamics.