After all these years, I still don't understand the minds of cats. They are a mystery wrapped in velvet.
Bart is a particular enigma.
I don't recall exactly when he started eating from our porch--we have had a series of stray cats show up over the years. So many of them have been black and there was no particular reason to remember him at the time.
It was as if he made a decision, in the summer of 2005, to try to trust us. By that point, we had trapped his family and moved them to other homes. Clarence and Lola remained with us. His other companion, Star (aka Skinny), had moved inside a year before. It could have been that he was lonely and wanted to be with the other cats.
He moved his feeding spot from the front porch to the back deck, where he could look into the house through the patio doors. When fall came, Denny built him a small shelter so he could look into the house and eat without having to sit in the rain. He would still hiss and move away from us when we put his food outside, but his retreat was shorter and shorter as time progressed.
Finally, one day, I propped the door of the cat run open and put some catnip inside to lure him in. In a matter of minutes, he was trapped and his life outside was over.
He is an unexpected cat. His wildness has fallen away, leaving a devoted cat who loves to be petted and twines between our legs when we walk. He grew up with people. People who apparently didn't mistreat him, for he is trusting and loving.
So what led him to be living in the woods, with a deep mistrust of humans that had me convinced at one point that he was "hopelessly feral?" And having reached that point, what made him decide we might be trusted? Was it the way we treated our cats? Could he see that Clarence, Lola and Skinny were happy and well-fed, part of a feline community?
That is Bart's secret. I'm just glad he made his choice to join us.