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a tomcat’s tail

A skinny gray tabby, hunkered under a deck chair, ears stuck out at various angles, eyes wide & wary.

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's flopped out on the deck, head held out so that I can scritch under his chin.

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.

He's made a grass nest in tall green grass. His eyes are half-closed; he's relaxed, & happy.

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.

A blurry extreme closeup of Tom's face. His nose is just visible at the bottom, one eye, & above that an ear sticking out at a ridiculous angle.

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.

A sturdy cardboard box is tucked between two stacks of firewood on a porch. Major Tom is tucked into the box, just his head peeking over the side.

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.

He's sitting in a box, with a blanket tucked into it, with more cardboard arched over his head. He's looking off to the left, & the scars at the bridge of his nose are clearly visible.

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.

He's sitting on a bed with a white comforter laid over it -- his ears are sticking out just a bit, as if he's considering something. What he was considering was taking a nap.

… yeah, I’m gonna call this a success.

He's flopped down, at his ease, in a fluffy cat cave tucked under the Christmas tree. His mighty tomcat cheeks are smaller, & the scars at the bridge of his nose are almost invisible.

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