A miracle occured here last night. For over a year, I'd attempted to humanely trap a frightened female feral feline I'd named Dixie. This winter has been brutal for feral cats and she was not only scared and mistrustful, but looked very be-draggled. Last night she was limping and I feared her paws might be frostbitten. Her eyes were a bit weepy and she looked a little bloated, though I don't think she's pregnant this time. Her entire undercarriage and lower legs were covered with mud, and had been for days, maybe weeks. I'd lost sleep over the fate of this cat, but she hadn't trusted me enough to accept the help I'd offered.
For whatever reason (I believe it was an answer to prayer) Dixie decided she'd come into the garage to spend the night. Most often she had run like the wind when the garage door opened or closed, but last night she came inside as I opened the door and stayed put as I closed it. I can't fully express the relief I felt at finally having her in a warmer place but reality soon set in and I started to wonder what to do next. Spouse would be leaving early the next morning and I was sure Dixie would bolt out the open door and never come back inside the garage.
After making her a soft bed and providing a litter box, I set the humane trap and put food inside it. Dixie is a very smart cat and for 8 hours she avoided the trap. I checked on her every hour and stayed up until 3am waiting, to no avail, for the little waif to let down her guard. She had successfully escaped the trap for months while she was outside, so I had little reason to believe she'd fall for it this time. Low and behold, at 6:30 this morning, we found her inside the trap, warm, safe, and no longer hungry. I said a prayer of thanks and re-located her to a small bathroom in our utility room. She has everything she needs and has begun to groom herself so she's looking less raggedy today. She slurped water as if she hadn't any to drink for days. As she drank, I gently petted her and for the first time, I heard her purr! I believe she was ready to be helped since she was finally allowing me to be near her. It was comforting to know this frightened cat finally trusted enough to accept human touch. It brought tears to my eyes and was a special moment for Dixie and me. She's still cautious and might always be.
I'll take things one day at a time and schedule a spay as soon as possible. For now, she's safe and warm and has someone who cares. All cats should be so lucky. It's a win for Dixie - and an answered prayer for me.