No stranger to anyone who follows this blog, Bart is one of those mystery cats.
Where did you come from? I wonder, as he throws himself against my feet in adoration.
No one watching his displays of trust and affection would suspect that he lived in our yard for years while we wrote him off as "hopelessly feral," a cat that could never be tamed.
Turns out, he was tame all along. It just took us a while to learn that.
Even after he had started to hang out on the back deck and peer through the patio door at all hours, we still thought he was wild. He would retreat with a hiss when we brought him food but his withdrawals were shorter and shorter and he would be back, looking in through the door at our cats and their secure lives, in a matter of minutes.
Even after we lured him inside, he was stand-offish. It took me two months to venture to pet him--and that opened the way. His back curved into the caress with a hunger that made me wonder--how many years has it been since someone touched you with love, little cat?
I look at him now and wonder what his story is. He obviously lived with loving people at some point in his life. Unlike Mimi or Maggie, he doesn't flinch when we lift a hand to pet him, so I don't think he was physically abused.
But somewhere on the long road that led from his first home to our backyard he had learned to be distrustful of human intentions. He spent at least three years living outside through Alaskan winters. The food and water we provided kept him close to our house but didn't earn his trust easily.
Maybe it was seeing how our other cats interacted with us, seeing their trust and fearlessness, that made him want to come a bit closer. And give humans another chance.
Bart has turned out to be a wonderful companion. I'm glad he gave us the chance to love him.