When I first met Major Tom, that wasn’t even his name yet — he was called Tom, or Tom Tom, as befits the feral tom that’s been hanging around the back yard.
The above picture didn’t happen until I’d known him for a month or three; at first, he wouldn’t get within twenty feet of me, even when there was food on offer. & he did appreciate the food.
I offered him food, & I gave him space to eat it, staying far enough away that he felt safe. I was polite in my best cat language, meeting his eyes only long enough to give him a slow blink, & then looking away. & little by little, he moved closer.
The day I got to touch him for the first time was an honour.
He was a skinny thing — when I first met him it was spring, & he was too busy getting laid to remember to eat enough. He was a barbell — all big tomcat cheeks & nuts. As summer came on & he got used to me, he ate more, & filled out nicely. By fall he was almost plump.
By fall he was also coming around often enough that he needed his own name. After dismissing many offered possibilities, he decided that Major Tom was acceptable.
He also accepted a certain amount of horsing around, & was occasionally moved to set aside his dignity for a moment.
By November, he not only accepted my presence, he expected it — when I returned after having been away for the weekend, he was hunkered up on the front steps waiting for me.
That winter I built him a little nest — a big doghouse lined with scrap cardboard & blankets, with a Tom-sized box lined with more blankets tucked inside. He deemed it an appropriate lair, & spent a LOT of time curled up inside it.
By then he was included in the daily dishing-out of gooshyfud. He often got an egg added to his, to keep up his strength, since he was outside all of the time. I slowly started luring him inside — putting his bowl on the threshold, & moving it a bit further inside every day. By the end of winter he was willing to not only eat inside — with the door closed! — but to explore the house afterwards.
The day he hopped up on a bed, sniffed around, burped, & laid down for a brief nap, was the day I decided he might — might! — make a housecat someday.
… yeah, I’m gonna call this a success.