This is Lina, one of the stray cats from our area. The picture was taken last summer. She has been visiting us for about a year since we moved in last February.
She was very shy in the beginning, always running away when she saw us. We've been putting food out for her every day, because she was so thin and small, and she eventually started to tolerate us around her when she was eating.
After some time we put the food in our garden shed, where she could come and leave as she pleased, and after some hesitation, she accepted the new spot. We bought her a cushion, but she didn't like it and preferred to lie on a cardboard box instead, so we put a towel on it to make it more comfortable for her.
During the last months I've been trying to make her get accustomed to my hand, hoping that one day she would trust me enough to allow us to take her to the vet, to get all the necessary treatments. I started by simply sitting beside her when she was lying on her box. At first she hissed at me and then left. After some weeks, she accepted me sitting there, and that's when I started to slowly make her get used to my hand by simply showing it to her; again she hissed and left. A week later she stopped leaving, but still hissed at me. It took us two months for her to accept my hand close to her, and when she didn't hiss for the first time, it made me so happy. During the next months we made further progress, accompanied by initial hissing and leaving, and finally me being allowed to slightly touch her with one finger on her back.
Today I felt like it was time for the next step, and when I put my finger on her back, I slowly started to move it in small circles through her fur. At first she gave me a wry look, but did not move or protest, which encouraged me to use more than one finger to pet her. And when I was finally stroking her whole back, she turned her head towards my fingers so that I could pet her there, too. And then she started to purr. Silently at first, then louder and louder as I continued.
I petted her for almost an hour, most of the time crying and sobbing for sheer joy, then she left.
Today has become a day of celebration: we have a new family member.