Nameless started sneaking into our bedroom at nights to scavenge food from the cat feeding area there. I'd be awakened by very loud crunching. When I'd go in and turn on the light, he'd race off the balcony railing and wait to see what I'd do. After a couple of years of this behavior, he became a little more bold and I'd see him in the back garden. He'd sneak up onto the deck to scavenge food from a cat dish there. I'd also occasionally run into him underneath the orange tree near the trash cans.
If Nameless saw me, he'd run away. He was very scared of any outdoor activity, so I'd only see him for a few days a couple of time each year; in early spring, before outdoor activities are in full-swing, and again in late fall, before it became too cold or wet.
Last year, when I'd see him on the deck, I'd grab some dry food and go to the door. I started talking to him softly and he would move across the deck while I dropped the food into the dish. That changed our relationship. Later in the year, he began calling me from outside the kitchen door if the dish was empty when he came for food.
Eventually he started to let me pet his head before he ate what I put out for him. By this time, I knew he had belonged to someone at some point in his life. But he never stayed around. His routine would be to come for a few days, and then I wouldn't see him again for months.
Late last year, I noticed what looked like an abscess behind his ear. I'd been experimenting with how friendly he might be if he were comfortable with me. We had become pretty friendly so I thought I might try to clean it if it was indeed a wound. I fed him and sat with him while he ate. When he was done, he came over for a little cuddling. After a few minutes, I tried to pick him up and put him in my lap, but he bit my hand and hissed at me. I decided it wasn't something I could handle.
During this period my two boys were suffering illnesses which eventually led to their deaths, and I didn't have much free mind to give to Nameless. Then he showed up again a couple of weeks ago. Wow! What a wreck. He has what looks like scar tissue in front of both ears, bald spots behind both ears with scratches that are healing, a weepy eye and slight sneezing.
A couple of mornings, I gave him some canned food, which he loved and gobbled up. I started thinking about our remaining clan who are aging and will perhaps have some medical needs over the next few years. We really don't have the proper dynamic to take on another member, so I decided he needs a home.
I signed up for the Forgotten Felines Clinic and yesterday he was altered and tested for Feline Leukemia (he's clean) and had a general once-over health check. The morning before the clinic day was light rain. When I went down for coffee, he was curled up on the doormat in the rain. I gave him some food and put it under the eaves next to the door. About an hour later when I checked again, he was curled up in the rain again. Next to the door seemed to be too close for his comfort. However, I called him and he came for a cuddle. After a minute or so, I picked him up and carried him into my guest-bedroom bathroom. He didn't struggle, hiss or bite, although he was distressed. I took in a cat bed and put it in a corner of the floor. I put some food and water down too. He stayed on the counter underneath the window all day. I finally moved the food and water, as well as the bed up onto the other end of the counter.
I checked on him a few times throughout the day. During most of the day he was pretty nervous, but would warm up quickly when spoken to softly and pet on the head. He loves cuddling! He rubs on me and rolls over on his side. He lets me pet his stomach. He seemed to be doing ok for the most part and I knew he'd be going in for his surgery next day.
When I went in Wednesday morning, he was curled up in the cat bed and purred at me. We spent a little time together and then I had to get him into a carrier to take him to clinic. I finally managed this, but he hissed and was very scared. I covered him with a large towel and dropped him off with them. He wasn't willing to let them get near him while he was conscious, so they had to sedate him before doing an exam. When I picked him up at the end of the day, he was still groggy, but seemed to recognize me. He got to stay in the carrier for a few hours after we got back for his peace of mind.
Today he is cosy, cuddly and very happy. He's contented to stay in the cat bed on the floor and he's eating more like a lion than a cat. He uses a litter box very well and seems generally content to be there. I did scare him once when I entered the room without speaking first, but on the whole he seems pretty relaxed. I just tried brushing him and he's thrilled with that. His tail needs work, but I think we'll work up to that.
Update 3/28/07 It's been a week with Nameless living in the guest bathroom. I've learned much more about his personality and he will be a very difficult case. First of all, he's very affectionate and cuddly when I visit with him. He wants to be rubbed and petted, he loves to eat and generally seems to get on well with me. However, if I change something about the room it makes him nervous. Such as, if I put his used dishes on the counter and stay to visit, he seems concerned and shy. Eventually he starts to hiss and growl. Also, the brushing seems to get him over-excited and he eventually tries to bite (not hard, just nibbling). If I tell him no he stops, but tries again soon, as though he's overstimulated and can't help it. He eventually get very mad at me, retreats to his bed and hisses and growls. I think he might do better outside in terms of being sociable, but he'll be at greater risk of something happening to him because we live in town and he's used to being a wanderer. I don't know how the neutering will affect his habits yet.
Update 3/30/07 Last night we let him leave the house. I wasn't expecting to see him again right away. In spite of his fear and discomfort being kept inside for a week, this morning as was his recent habit, we discovered him curled up on the kitchen doormat. I gave him some food and he spent the morning talking to me from the deck while I worked around the kitchen. He's extrememly content and friendly again. No apparent nervousness. Here are some photos from this morning.
I hope this description will get people interested in him. He is a mature neutered (now) male with a harsh past. He needs a quiet and non-threatening environment. He does best when spoken to softly and kindly. Please email me if you have questions, input or name suggestions.
Update 5/31/07 Well, this cat, Guy, is unlike any cat I've known before. One of his words is 'hisssss'. Unsure what exactly it means, but it's used to say things like 'Yikes! I better get out of the way - they're moving fast.' and 'You scared me!', it comes out at unexpected moments. However, it doesn't mean 'I'm a tough cat and you better keep your distance.' He loves people and companionship. I take strolls out in the garden and he's always right there with me. If I'm late in the morning, he calls me from outside the door. If that doesn't work, he trundles through the cat-door and calls me from wherever he feels brave enough to venture.
He also loves other cats. A lot! He follows them around and defends them in a dispute or if they're being disciplined.
Guy comes in at night and often sleeps indoors now, either on a mat by the kitchen door, or on the living room rug. He's not a lap cat, but often looks like he wants to hop up on the sofa or a patio chair with me. Just doesn't quite have the nerve. He's very cuddly and companionable. Follows me in the garden and leans against me when I stop. If I sit, he rubs his cheeks, back and tail on me. Here's a little video (MPG) of him if you'd like to see him in action.
He's recently taken to positioning himself between me and the other cats - they're not wild about this. He can be intimidating. He stands up for himself, but never holds a grudge. He's quite charming when you get to know him. A real sociable Guy.
Update 10/9/07 Amazing progress is possible and Guy has certainly proven this. About a month ago, I was sitting on the sofa after dinner watching some TV when Guy walked over and sat at my feet. He was staring at me and when I spoke to him, he looked to my left at the sofa seat. I patted to seat to see if he'd hop up, never imagining he would. He'd never before seemed inclined. He looked back at me and I patted again. He hopped up, walked into my lap and curled up. Louder purring you just cannot imagine. Eventually he started washing his paws and ears. If I moved at all, he'd grab onto me, but kept his place and kept right on purring. He stayed for about half an hour, at which point I had to get up. I picked him up, which made him nervous, and placed him onto a blanket I keep there for the cats. He stuck and slept there that night and returned to the same spot for the next several nights.
We also almost never hear hisses any more. He's still nervous and runs if we're walking to fast or in shoes he's not familiar with, but he generally seems to have accepted us fully at this point. He's a pretty special boy (or grandpa as I call him).
Guy passed away in Summer 2008 - "You were loved, my dear"".