My first apartment complex had a number of feral cats that would roam the outskirts of the complex since some of the homeowners put out food for them. I was very bored at the time, as I’d just moved to this new area and didn’t know anyone yet, so out of curiosity, I took out some meat one evening to see if a feral cat would come to me to eat.
One little kitten “volunteered” himself by running up to me when he saw me try to feed the other cats, which was already far more outgoing than any of the other ferals.
He was cautious at first, fleeing from me after taking his meat as the others did. After a number of feedings, I eventually got him to come to me to take the meat out of my hand. Some feedings after that, he would tolerate my right hand briefly touching his head when he grabbed the food out of my left hand. Some feedings after that, he would accept a single stroke of his head to get food. And finally, after a long-fought war, he would willingly allow me to pet him after I finished feeding him.
Eventually, my complex put out cages to catch all the cats, and when my favorite cat was caught, I went to the local shelter and adopted him officially. It took him a few days to get used to being in a house, but he came out of his shell and became a very affectionate cat who loved to be pet. Every night when I got up to go to bed, he would race to my bedroom and take up a spot on the pillows above my head and spend all night curled up with me.
A little while later, I offered to allow some friends to stay at my apartment for the night to save on hotel costs. I warned them that my cat was technically a feral cat, having spent his kittenhood outside with only my intermittent brief visits to feed him for human interaction. Even though he had come to trust me, since I fed him as a kitten, I didn’t know how he would be around other humans. I told them if he was a problem I would lock him in the laundry room for the evening.
When they arrived, their toddler was fascinated by my cat and chased the poor feline all over my small apartment trying to hold him. She was too young to know how to handle cats and so was always trying to pull the poor cat’s tail or pick him up awkwardly. Originally, I was afraid he might lash out at her, but he tolerated her admirably, never once hissing or growling at her no matter what she did.
However, most shocking of all was that, as soon as they managed to get the toddler to go to sleep, my cat went over to her bed and curled up above her head for the night. That was the only night he didn’t sleep with me, having assigned himself to watching over the toddler that had tormented him all evening, instead.
After that, it was clear, despite having grown up outside, that he was always meant to be with people. I’m quite thankful for my random decision to relieve my boredom by seeing whether I could tame a “feral” cat.