It was a rainy night in late April. I put on my London Fog raincoat and went out to the back of the property to cut rhubarb for a pie. Some people don’t like the rain. They don’t like to get wet. I am not one of those people. I don’t even need an umbrella (unless I have my hair done or am in dressy clothes for some reason). Personally, I find rain refreshing and storms poetic.
While I was cutting the rhubarb I saw a cute little cat peering at me through the forsythia bushes (which were right behind me). He looked interested in me but would not approach me. He seemed very fascinated with my “cutting of the rhubarb” and watched from a distance. I felt sorry for the little guy to be out there in the rain, (unless he liked rain like I do, but cats usually don’t) and I wanted to offer him some comfort, but he was too scared to come to me. I went in the house and put a little bit of cat food in a zip lock bag, put the bag in my pocket, and went back out to the rhubarb patch.
It was raining ever so lightly by now, so it wasn’t a soaking kind of rain. I put a little bit of the food in the palm of my hand and patiently sat still, hand outstretched-waiting. With curiosity, the cat came out of the bushes. He would come a little closer and then run backward a bit. I of course talked to him in a gentle tone and I could tell he did want to approach me but was just afraid.
He finally trotted toward me-but not straight on. He came at an angle :). I can’t remember if he ate directly out of my hand or if I had put a little food on the ground first, but eventually he did come and eat a bit and let me pet him. He wouldn’t allow human contact for too long though. He would take a few steps forward and then a few back. As much as I hated to, I had to leave him outside in the rain. I can still remember the way he looked at me that first little encounter. Some people don’t think much about animals, and especially stray or feral cats, but they do have a way of communicating with us-especially if they know we are kind and gentle of spirit.
That was the first of many encounters with him. It wasn’t more than a couple of days later that I saw him in the forsythia bushes again. I don’t know where he came from, but I live on a dead end street next to the woods, so I am thinking he came from somewhere out of the woods. Now, at the time, I thought he was the only cat out there. However, in part 2 of my story I will be talking about the “cat colony” that “found” me.
The coming week or 2 was a trust building time. He always made me laugh because he was afraid to run at me straight on, and always had to come at me diagonally or in a zig zagging pattern…back and forth. Step towards me, step back…run diagonal, and then I would reach out my hand to try and pet him and he would just barely let me and then zigzag away again. In fact, for the longest time I was beginning to wonder if he had some type of imbalance issue because of the fact he never ran or walked in a straight line!
He really didn’t act too skittish considering (he was a feral cat), it was really quite comedic. Almost like a little dance he did. It still makes me smile to picture it. I could tell he had quite the personality and even had guts, but he just had a funny fashion of testing the waters with me. It wasn’t too long before he would run to me when he saw me coming…but I didn’t make him come too far out of his comfort zone at first. I would meet him by the bushes.
This is the beginning of a story of a charity that landed right in my backyard. This is how the cat colony (that I didn’t even know existed) began. This is the story of “Courage” -who at this point in the story doesn’t even have a name yet. Stay tuned for Part 2 (next week) to read the rest!