Carol Jane Remsburg
Our other 'foundlings' of the house have run of the back porch via a cat door and discovered him first. There were terrible and horrifying screams and screeches that heralded "Moonlight's" presence. Once onto the back porch and shooing Stinky and Pyewacket back into the house I discovered the source of their outrage—it was a cat.
He arrived about a month ago and announced himself with a loud and repeated series of yowls. He's a large older tom. His cries are hoarse, elongated, and volubly repeated. And for weeks all I could do was feed him. He wouldn't come near any of us—not even Don, to whom ALL animals take a shine to.
Weeks went by and as eager as he was for food, it was obvious he also wanted attention and affection as well. He was having an internal war; that conflict between a good rub and keeping his fear at bay. This wasn't just an issue over independence. It was obvious that someone had kept this cat for a time and abused him. He was accustomed to humans and not feral but now on his own. And while he wasn't exactly starving, it was obvious that he wanted better than the moles his current diet had been. This tom was having visions of commercial cat food—dry and canned.
November was pretty warm overall but it did have its cold times too. I worried. I had no idea where "Moonlight" was hiding himself even after making a warm, dry bed for him—he's NEVER taken advantage of it yet. Meanwhile he seemed so eager for attention but then would hiss as you put down his bowl and back away.
So one night I figured if he was hungry enough that he'd come eat at his usual spot on the back step but I would be sitting there. The first night he just held back and yowled something awful. I waited for ten minutes and just casually talked to him and he talked back. Finally I knew he was very torn but hungry. I couldn't keep him from his dinner any longer so I left him alone to eat.
The next night we had fish for dinner, I incorporated that into the dry cat food and the canned. And there I sat for another ten minutes just calmly talking to him with the food bowl beside me. This time he came forth, he hissed as usual but he ate. I made no move to touch him but kept talking to him.
Several more evenings passed with Moonlight eating his dinner scowling and hissing but noshing up his dinner. We kept up quite a conversation. On the fourth night he made his move. This night I waited for him to finish up and feel well-fed and comforted. He reached out to sniff my hand and then nearly leaped into my hands for affection. Moonlight wanted rubs, a good scratch, and kind words. Moonlight wanted hands that wouldn't hurt him. I didn't.
Stinky and Pyewacket, only a few feet away on the porch were as miffed as they could be and made it QUITE evident. Little did either of them realize that if they wanted a tango with this old tom, both would come up on the short end. But then, they'd been tamed and were full of confidence. They had no idea about the old campaigner I was dealing with.
Thus bringing him into the house isn't possible. I couldn't take this veteran's claws from him, nor could I 'fix' him at this late stage in order to bring him inside the house. Besides, Moonlight and Stinky would never get along, not to mention Pye—she's one little witch who likes her status quo.
So now I'm faced with the further taming of our little Moonlight and keeping him warm this winter. That bed I made him, well he's turned up his nose to. However, a heated garage does beckon him. And while it's got a huge 'doggy' door I think he feels he'll be trapped there. Only time will tell and I have no certain answers.
Meanwhile, each evening I take my place upon the steps with Moonlight's dinner and he's there waiting and not just for the food. Moonlight comes for love, attention, and a good rub. I knew he was mine just last night when he jumped up, closer, to sniff my face and give me a nuzzle.
Oh, how I wish . . .
Every old tom ought to have a haven. Moonlight has found his with us if he wants to stay. Me, I'll scramble around all winter to find a way to keep him warm. He's well-fed to say the least.
Foundlings are always a surprise when we least expect them or even want them. Each one brings such joy with them as they share their lives with us. Never turn away a stranger—you might just find love. I always do.