Breakthrough: I didn’t see the stray calico cat for a few days, although the food was clearly being eaten. Tonight, when I went to put out food, she was out there. She immediately rolled around on the sidewalk for me. Then I sat down at the edge of the porch, and put a little food on the first step. After a few minutes of meowing at me, she came up and ate it—and I was able to give her a small scritch on the head—first contact! That was all it took. I think once she decided I was to be trusted, she was all in. After that, she let me pet her all over, even pick her up and hold her in my lap, and she meowed and purred a very quiet purr. She rubbed her head on me and licked my hand. So sweet.
She seems pretty young—her head is very round (no pronounced occipital crest) and her fur is so soft. I couldn’t feel a chip between her shoulders, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. Also, she doesn’t seem very thin; on the contrary she appears to be getting plenty to eat. Maybe she makes the rounds? The thing is, for weeks on end she seems to live under our porch. Even when it’s pouring down rain, or super cold, or snowy.
Now, what to do with her? We can’t afford another cat, because we can’t afford to get her regular teeth cleanings and other medical care. (Don’t think I’m not tempted, though.) And it is so hard to know if she is owned by somebody who leaves her out at night, or lets her come and go. I still think I should get her into the carrier soon and take her down somewhere to get scanned. And also put up those posters in the neighborhood asking if anybody owns her.