Hampton has been increasingly interested in touch the past week. He is waiting outside the sliding door many times throughout the day. When I go out to visit and make my “head butt” fist he immediately comes and wants to push hard against my fist. Earlier this week he started to roll over and show me his belly. This is a sign of trust. He also is no longer as skittish to come to me when Shadow and Stellar are around. He will come to me with both of them right beside me. He does still get very startled when I might flinch or one of the cats makes a strange noise. I have to be cautious to not take my eyes off of him as he is prone to swatting at me when he gets scared.
This morning he was right in front of the sliding door and so happy to see me with breakfast. He came right to me and pushed my hand onto the top of his head. He usually will then back up and look at me in fear. Today he did not back up and allowed me to keep my hand there. I was able to pet the top of his head over and over. He would jump back after a few seconds and then come right back. He wanted to do it over and over. He even decided that pets were better than breakfast!! It is a such a wonderful feeling to be able to pet him for the first time. My heart was beating as fast as Hampton’s!
Petting a feral for the first time is such an experience. You can just see their expression go from excitement to fear to joy to fear to love. I think back to a year ago and the best I could do for Hampton was feed him under my deck. I kept trying to move his food out from under the deck just a bit so I could get a look at him with my own eyes. I did have a camera under the deck, but it is just not the same as seeing for myself. Last year he was the most frightened cat. If he even thought I might be on the deck, it would take him 20 minutes or so to start eating again. He also would leave as soon as his meal was finished. I had such little interaction with him, but I knew that providing him with food was what he needed at that time.
On August 15, 2014 I did TNR on Hampton. I had tried to trap him a few months previously, but it was a disaster. I had a new trap ready to try and it worked very well and quite easily. It was a day of happiness for he would finally be neutered but also a day of sadness as the experience was so hard on him. I wish I knew where he went for those 8 long months. He came back much less scared of the world and I am just happy he remembered his home and I hope that he decides not to leave again.
Shadow, Stellar and Hampton are also making strides this week. On occasion they will all sleep together at night and also just lounge on the deck in the evening. Yesterday afternoon Hampton came back around 3pm. Shadow and Stellar were on the deck. Shadow came first to greet Hampton and it was such a greeting. A few head butts as well as Shadow licking the top of Hampton’s head. Stellar came next and Hampton was very happy to see him. He went full force to give Stellar a head butt. It was a bit forceful and frightened Stellar a bit, but it was so sweet to watch. Next they all settled down for a nap to wait for dinner!!