The window beside my desk overlooks a huge thicket canopying a substantial ditch. Six months ago I noticed a tiny bobbed tail cat using a small passage through the brambles to sneak around to the back porch and steal Pickwick’s food. The first time I saw him I opened the window, said “Hey ki…” and the cat bolted. Weeks went by and I repeated the process until finally he stopped running.
The next step was to sneak outside before he got to the back yard. More often than not he would hear the door squeak open and run back to the protection of the thicket. Occasionally I’d manage to get outside without him noticing, but as soon as he rounded the corner and saw me, he’d flee. More weeks passed with me sneaking outside and frightening him with horrifying hellos and terrifying offers of food. He eventually stopped running but would just sit at the corner of the house until I went inside, never getting any closer.
I don’t know what prompted him to come over after being petrified for so long, but one evening, as I sat outside with Pickwick, peripherally I noticed the movement of soft grey fur as he slunk his way to the porch, stopping at the foot of the stairs. I said, “Hello,” and continued to pet Pickwick, picking new burrs from his fur. The little grey cat sat tall, unmoving, head turned to the side, eyes partially closed, but still watching. He stayed there until I stood up to go inside twenty minutes later, then he ran to the corner of the house.
That was the day I started putting more food in Pickwick’s bowl.
It’s been two steps forward and one step back since. Each day he gets a little braver but the whole routine starts off worse than it ended. He’s now on the porch with me, licking the cat food gravy from a spoon I hold out to him, and allowing my hand to rest six inches from his plate. He’s so excited about the new wet food that he’ll stretch his neck to get at it as I’m spooning it out, which has allowed my hand to brush lightly against his ear a few times. We’re getting there.
Now for a name…
Note: Birds frighten the little grey cat, so I can’t imagine a giant black camera is going to go over very well with him, so there are no pictures yet. Instead, here is one of Levee as a puppy, four years ago.
Update: I was able to sneak a picture with my phone this afternoon, moments before it went from 46% to dead. Does anyone else’s phone do that? I want all life to work on iPhone battery time. Forty-six minutes left to work? Leave right now! 46 is the new 0. Anyway, you can see the kitty on Instagram.
Longer I Run
by Peter Bradley Adams