It is thus:
One, it’s not a kitten. Based on wear on the teeth, the vet guessed it (and it is a he, incidentally) was five or six years old. It just happens to be small (5.6 pounds), which I would suppose is consistent with a long-term largely feral lifestyle. Two, aside from being small and scrawny, it’s (reasonably) healthy, with no feline leukemia or
HFIV. Our vet gave the cat medicine for fleas and parasites and a general antibiotic because in this case “reasonably healthy” does not mean “totally healthy,” and suggested that we wait a few weeks to take care of other things, like vaccinations and snippage, on the idea that a few weeks would be enough time for the cat to become healthier and more robust.
We then had a discussion of whether to keep the cat inside during those weeks or to let it roam outside. The vet was neutral on the topic but suggested doing whichever would stress out the cat least. Well, I’ve seen the cat both indoors and outdoors. Indoors, it huddled in a corner and glared a lot. Outside it seemed rather more relaxed, if cautious about us. So outside it was. When I came home I opened the door to the cat carrier and the cat sprinted for the treeline.
Our plan, then, is to continue leaving food out for the thing in the garage (small amounts, during the day, to avoid raccoon infestation), and keep an eye on what it does next. If he decides to stick around, then in a month I’ll trap him in the garage again and take him back to the vet (I will be wearing heavy gloves for that escapade). I expect he’ll stick around; food is food. I don’t mind having another cat about, especially one determined to be an outside creature, since we’re coming up on Rodent Migration Season, when the fields around us are harvested and the mice and other small creatures look for someplace warm to be. The little dude can eat as many of those as he wants, in my opinion.
And that’s where we are with the feral