We are pretty sure she had a home at one time. She is too people-oriented to have been born feral but she has wild moments and is obsessed with hunting. So far we've had two half-eaten mice and one dead rat delivered to our bedside from her enclosed catio. She thinks we would enjoy a midnight snack I suppose. If you've ever stepped on half a dead mouse stumbling barefoot to the bathroom in the middle of the night, you will leave a night light on for as long as you own a feral cat.
She is, not by her choice, an indoor cat; cats don't survive outdoors in our neighborhood. Owls, hawks, bobcats, and coyotes live in the open space adjoining the homes here. Most of her day (when she is not sleeping) is spent looking outside plotting ways to escape. One day we caught her with her paws on the door lever trying to pull it down to escape the house.
Of the more than 20 cats we have owned during our 50+ years of marriage, she stands out in her ability to read us. She looks intensely into our eyes and scans our body language to determine our intentions. She knows by our behavior that we soon will get dressed to go to the theater (she hates that - she expects 100% of our attention on her terms, at home). She anticipates when I'm about to get up and open a door in hopes of escaping into the yard (she succeeded a couple of times - she's lightning-fast). And she is very good at figuring out the perfect hiding place from which to leap in front of us as we walk from room to room.
Her DNA test revealed she was predominantly Norwegian Forest Cat (aka "Wedgie").To let her feel closer to the outdoors, I erected a 6' wire mesh barrier in a 6' 9" door. With no effort, she cleared the barrier from a sitting position. After disappearing for an hour or so she returned home. Clearly, she is an experienced fence jumper likely having honed her jumping skill escaping predators in her feral days.
She has other escape talents. She instinctively knows the smallest tunnels, picket fence spacing, and openings under fences or fireplace grates that she can enter at full speed.
We are sure she had a litter of kittens, probably lost before she could teach them to hunt. She occasionally yowls a sound that Wedgies use to call kittens back to mom. After yowling, she watches and listens for signs of their return. We teared up when we saw her reaction to a video of kittens searching for their mom. She has never shown an interest in media (TV, computer monitors, etc.) but she leaped onto the laptop circling around it searching for the source of the sound.
Owls hooting put her on high alert. She knows where every owl is at all times. She also is fully aware of other predators, some of which we see and more we don't. If there ever is a cat that could survive our neighborhood, she might be the one but we won't take the chance. She obviously spent a significant portion of her life as a stray or feral successfully spotting and evading danger.
So here's what we think we have decrypted: She did spend time with humans when she was very young; she was lost or abandoned before she was a year old; she weighs in at 8 pounds and probably was
malnourished during her first year of life; she had kittens but lost the litter and still hopes they will return; she learned quickly how to survive attacks by predators and humans with bad intentions; her intelligence and ability to solve problems allowed her to survive in the wild (though she did fall for the feral cat trap, perhaps out of desperation); and she will never give up hunting and searching for her lost litter.
Like most Wedgies, she is much more like a dog than like other cats we have owned. She waits by the door until we come home, she follows us from room to room, she greets company insisting on being touched but not too much, she comes when her name is called, and she has a much bigger cat vocabulary than other cats. As we get to know her, I hope to decrypt her vocalizations, perhaps by correlating them with her body language which we are beginning to understand pretty well.