This is Joe. He is a stray cat that likes our back yard. We feed him.
He’s the same color as our deck, so he’s hard to see. He spooks easily, as is the way of stray cats. I took this picture through a window in our dining room. He looks pretty peaceful here, but he is a scrapper. One ear is mangled, and I’m sure that he’s mostly blind in one eye. He has the big head and jowls of a Tom, with the muscular body of an outdoor cat. My pampered indoor cats watch him from a distance, even behind closed doors. They think he’s scary.
When he first started to appear, he hid under the deck when we brought out food, only to approach the dish after we went inside. Now he just makes sure that we’re at least five feet from him. We talk to him while we put down the food dish and water. He watches.
We are training each other. We only put food out when he’s there, so he waits patiently on the table in full view. In the morning I see him in the front yard when I get up, but by the time I put the lights on in the kitchen, he’s waiting in the back yard. I take a clean dish outside with his breakfast, and ask him how his night went, and tell him that I’m glad he’s here. He watches me.
During the day he sleeps somewhere on the deck. Sometimes in the rocking chair, sometimes underneath it. He is so still that I often study him for signs of breathing. If I go outside, he is immediately awake, watching me, ready to retreat to a safe distance.
He didn’t appear a few mornings ago. I looked for him throughout the day, and he finally appeared about 3pm. I was so relieved to see him, that I started to rush outside, only to remember that would chase him away. Instead I prepared a bowl for him, and took it outside, talking the whole time. He watched.
I’ve never touched him. I just talk to him, call him Joe, set the food down, and watch from inside the house. It’s a good day if he stays within four feet of me. Maybe soon it will be three feet, then two. One day I’ll scratch his head.
It’s good to have a goal.