I first noticed Sally in the spring of last year, a pretty calico who could often be found sitting in the window of a small building in the back courtyard. The few times I tried to touch her, though, I would be met with the sort of cringing and expression of wide-eyed horror that are generally meant to signal a cat is not friendly and is about to either run away or get out the claws.
Fellow volunteers Kim and Ayako had a similar experience, until one day Kim discovered an interesting thing: Sally actually likes to be petted. It may have been because Sally had a chance to get used to Kim, but Kim managed to make contact and was quickly rewarded with a solid purr and a tail in the air.
photo by Kim
photo by Kim
When Kim brought me over to see this, we found Sally hanging out on a shelf hidden behind a blanket - again, not a place you'd expect to find a kitty who wants to be found. But Kim had only to stroke her head and pat her back at the base of her tail a couple of times before Sally was purring away, clearly enjoying the attention. I tried as well and even got Sally trying some headbutts, although this was seemingly newish territory for her, as she became a bit uncertain after the first few bonks and switched to looking perplexed and smacking me instead.
I found out from Leslie afterward that Sally and her shy tortie sister Soleil were both trapped at a Richmond automotive garage. They were both feral, but were being fed while they were there, and so had become at least somewhat used to humans.