Lessons I'm learning from the cat under my deck.

Real Estate Agent with Kimberly Howell Properties (210) 646-HOME

Black cat hissing while sitting in a box.

image courtesy of g.originals

My wife and I have a tendency to find stray cats.

Since our last cat passed away, we have been noticing a little cat scooting about our backyard late at night.  Over time, we realized he was heading under the large deck in our backyard and assumed he must be living under there.  He was scared and jumped at any noise and headed right for his little lair of darkness.  Like we do every time we see a stray, we decided to name him ("Spaghetti Cat" was our choice) and started bringing out bits of food to him.  We started with some scraps from dinners and such, as we didn't have any cat food laying around.  We would deposit these treats near the entrance to his hiding spot and we would see him sneak out, grab the food, and return to his safety under the deck.  As the days passed and we continued out back and forth with Spaghetti Cat, he began to hang around a little longer each time.  He was still frightened, but you could tell he was beginning to recognize us as the "bringers of food."

Taking the next steps.

After this went on for awhile, we decided to buy some cat food and break out our old cat's bowls.  A little water and some crunchies slowly became a routine.  We would talk to S.C. (also know as Spaghetti, Sketti, and Bud) as he munched and try to keep him calm and soothed.  Sometimes he's get spooked and return to his safe place, but over time, he settled into a routine.  Eating when we came home and in the morning.  He started waiting for his food and meowing when we came home.  He was hungry and wanted what he had come to expect.  As he became more and more comfortable, we moved the bowls a little closer.  Closer meant having to be near us, which at first caused some problems.  Some hissing, some growling, some quick dashes back under the deck.  Change is never fun for anyone, but we worked through it.  We kept soothing him with our voices and trying to be his "friend."  Eventually his bowls made it to the side door.  His curiosity over the door increased and he started to look inside.

Then came the cold, hail, and rain.

My wife was concerned about Spaghetti Cat as we had a bit of cold weather approaching, so she got out our cat carrier and put a nice towel inside it, hoping the cat would use it and stay warm over the next few days.  He resisted as he does with everything, but eventually one morning as I went to feed him, I saw him poke his head out of his new home as he cried for food.  One more step.  He was still nervous, but he began to stay close and watch, instead of immediately running in fear.  The comfort level had increased.

The breakthrough?

Lately, we've left the door open a few times and he's even stepped foot in the house, testing it out, sniffing around.  He has yet to move in to his new home, but he's contemplating it.  As for the two of us, we are patiently encouraging him, but not forcing him (anyone who owns a cat knows you can't "force" a cat to do much).  We want him to make the decision and move in when he's ready.  I know he will eventually, but he's just not ready for it yet.  When he does, my wife and I will be there for him to help him settle in and get even more comfortable.  Someday, the three of us will look back at those long days and laugh (well, I hope he won't laugh - that would scare me) and remember how long we waited and how scared he was.  He will be happy that we didn't give up on him though, because he'll now live in the perfect home filled with love and crunchies.  I can hear him purring already.

Usually this is where I would make my comparisons to make my point, but I think the point is clear and you'll be able to see exactly what I'm trying to say.  I'd also like to point out that the photo above is not our new friend, as he doesn't seem to trust the camera yet.  We'll work on that separately.


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Mark MacKenzie
Phoenix, AZ

Hi Matt,

Great post - scary picture though!

I think it is great what you are doing.

I have a place in my heart for animals as well and am trying to instill this in our babies.

Dec 21, 2008 04:27 AM #26
Melissa Evans Exit Realty of Beaufort SC

Hi Matt,


Cats know how to find good homes better than you can believe! I would welcome him just as you have.

He is a lucky fella! Keep us posted on his antics.

Dec 21, 2008 04:36 AM #27
Nancy Birge
Coldwell Banker - Old Lyme, CT
Waterfront Specialist

What a wonderful story.... and you are right good things come to all if we have the time and patience....


Dec 21, 2008 05:22 AM #28
James Lupori, Keller Williams North Seattle

Hi Matt - Your story really hit home with me. My wife and I have lived with numerous cats over the years. Now we're down to only one cat but every time a stray or neighborhood cat comes through the yard, we can't help but say hello and hope the critter comes over for some loving. I think it's an instinctual thing with some people: we just love cats!!! If you have a couple of minutes, you might find my blog post entitled Get Inspired with William R. Murrows "This American Life:


There's a wonderful reference to a story about a cat that I hope you enjoy. Peace!

Dec 21, 2008 06:43 AM #29
Barbara Delaney
Park Place REALTORS, Inc. - Roanoke, VA

Dear Matt,

My Mother has befriended the neighbor's cat. Now this cat is well-fed and loved, but Mom gives him special attention. She lets him in, gives him special treats, and lets him sit in her lap for hours while she pets him.

I am sure that he would be happy to leave his friends behind, if Mom would keep him!


Dec 21, 2008 06:54 AM #30
Bob & Carolin Benjamin
Benjamin Realty LLC - Gold Canyon, AZ
East Phoenix Arizona Homes

Let us hope he continues to get comfortable -- you are doing a good thing by making his winter a bit warmer.

Dec 21, 2008 07:01 AM #31
Matt Stigliano
Kimberly Howell Properties (210) 646-HOME - San Antonio, TX

Leslie - OC is an awesome name.  I may have to steal that one day.  You may steal our other name we've been working on for years, but haven't used..."Sir Lix-A-Lot."  Its pretty lame, but makes me laugh every time.

Mark - It brings me pleasure I have to admit.  I'm trying to help the little guy out, but I also have my own motivation...a fluffy cat on a cold winter's night is always a good thing.

Melissa - Yeah they tend to gravitate to our house and the neighbors - she's got a virtual zoo over there.  She's great with animals, even turning our people-hating old cat into a loving friendly cat that would sit inside her house every morning while she had coffee with her two dogs and her bird.

Nancy - Patience (I have the hardest time with this word and trying to remember how to spell it) is necessary and I admit, not always one of my strongest suits.  It can be frustrating at times, but I've learned to push through my impatience.

James - Wow, what a great story.  I can totally imagine those guys and what it felt like for them.  They probably lived a great few moments with that cat and had some hope and good times thanks to the cat.  Of course, the cat got so much attention, I'm sure he was thrilled.  Thanks for sharing that, I had never heard about the series, but I think I'll spend some time checking it out.

Barbara - I often wonder where my various cats wander off to.  I know they're not stupid and try and get in good with other neighbors.  As long as they return home, I will resist calling them traitors.

Bob & Carolin - My wife just added a new layer to his bedding and covered the carrier with some more towels to keep it warmer inside.  Its really windy and cold today, so she was worried about him.  No wonder I love my wife.

Since the response was so great to the story of Spahetti Cat, I made another attempt to grab a photo and this time, I succeeded.  This is my gift to all of you.  Merry Christmas and thanks for stopping in and commenting.  Spaghetti Cat himself apprecaites all your kind words and someday (after I train him to laugh), we will call each of you personally and laugh down the phone.  When you get that mysterious phone call with a laughing cat, you'll know who it was.

Spaghetti Cat on the deck

Spaghetti Cat on the deck

Dec 21, 2008 07:41 AM #32
Nannette Turner
Keller Williams Lynchburg - Lynchburg, VA
Online Marketing Home Ownership Advocate Specialis

Matt o so looks like you get S.P for Christmas!  I would probably take in every stray if my husband would let me.

Dec 21, 2008 07:51 AM #33
Angelia Garcia
Pure Realtors - Dallas, TX

That's great Matt.  I'm sure S.C appreciates your kindness.  I too took in a kitten several months ago.  She was all by herself at a vacant foreclosure.  She would not stay and kept following us, so I brought her home.  She is the terror of my home now.  But I love her so much.


Dec 21, 2008 08:13 AM #34
Judi Bryan
Executive Realty Group - Bloomingdale, IL
Your Chicagoland Connection

Absolutely LOVED the story, Matt, and the analogy!!!  And glad to see that SC did finally tolerate the camera!  She's adorable!!!!  And it's so nice that she, whether she intended to or not, has found a loving home!

Happy Holidays!

Dec 21, 2008 10:29 AM #35
Matt Stigliano
Kimberly Howell Properties (210) 646-HOME - San Antonio, TX

Nannette - I probably would as well.

Angelia - Great photo.  I think if I came across one in a foreclosure I would have no choice but to bring him home.

Judi - It was actually fun to write and enjoyable to see the comments about the analogy and Spaghetti as well.  i don't know if I would call those poses "tolerating" - they were actually taken right before he hopped up on the bench and thought about going over the fence (he does that a lot).

Dec 21, 2008 11:05 AM #36
Tina Merritt
Nest Realty - Blacksburg, VA
Virginia Real Estate

From my kitties to yours, Happy Holidays!!!!!beavis and tabitha












Tina in Virginia

Dec 21, 2008 11:35 AM #37
Melody Botting
Broker Associate PenFed Realty - San Antonio, TX
You Deserve The Best

This is a very sweet story.  Thank you for sharing.  Your patience and kindness warms my heart.

Dec 21, 2008 11:45 AM #38
Marcy Moyer
eXp Realty of California Silicon Valley Probate, Trust, and Investment Sales - Mountain View, CA
Probate, Trust, and Investment Specialist

This is what we should all strice to do.

Marcy Moyer Inero Real Estate Menlo Park Ca

Dec 21, 2008 12:24 PM #39
Matt Stigliano
Kimberly Howell Properties (210) 646-HOME - San Antonio, TX

Tina - Thanks!  I hope everyone has a great holiday, I know I will (we're even celebrating Boxing Day this year with lots of Americans, so it will nice to show them the English side of the holidays).

Melody - Thanks for taking the time to stop in and read it.  I'm always shocked at how many people read these posts!

Marcy - And when it works, its such a great feeling.

Dec 22, 2008 01:18 AM #40
Kay Raber

Matt, you are me kind of people!  I found a stray at my boyfriends house a few months ago.  I eventually have transported my dog carrier, blankets, food dishes and food to his house.  The cat is very affectionate and we have to keep him out of the house or he will for sure make himself at home.  He seems to be happy with the relationship, not too keen on the idea of making himself at home in the carrier though.  I'm sure we won't stray too far away from it, he knows when he has it made! I have two 15 year old cats at my home or I would bring him home with me. Thank you for taking time to take care of the cats that need help.  Happy Holidays and a prosperous New Year!

Dec 22, 2008 02:06 AM #41
Matt Stigliano
Kimberly Howell Properties (210) 646-HOME - San Antonio, TX

Kay - Its great to hear so many stories of people caring for strays.  I've always been a big advocate of it and here in San Antonio we have some great people working hard to help out where they can (the Animal Defense League is my personal favorite and is where we donated all of my previous cats toys, bedding, food, medicine when she died).  Have a great holiday as well!

Dec 22, 2008 03:03 AM #42
Toula Rosebrock
Diane Turton, Realtors, Forked River, NJ - Lacey Township, NJ
Broker/Sales Associate, Realtor, Lacey Township,

Hi Matt:

Great post.  Love these stories...thanks for posting it to the group!

ToulaRosebrock.com - DianeTurton.net

Jan 05, 2009 02:04 AM #43
Matt Stigliano
Kimberly Howell Properties (210) 646-HOME - San Antonio, TX

Toula - I figured it was appropriate for the group, even though it is really real estate related.  Glad you enjoyed it.

Jan 05, 2009 04:37 AM #44
Maggie Baumbach
Search Homes for Sale in Maryland at HelpShop.com - Reisterstown, MD

Mr. Spaghetti is very handsome!  Great job! Have you tired some irresistable tuna on a spoon? Or babyfood? We have found that spoon feeding treats helps the kitties get comfortable to being closer to the feeder. It looks like your guy is progressing well and he is a lucky kitty to have found your deck.

Jan 06, 2009 07:47 AM #45
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