For those following the Patches saga with bated breath, I figured I'd post a morning update.
I fed the horses, then headed over to the neighbors's house to see if Patches was in view. No go.
A little disheartened, I headed back to my yard, and called a few more times. Good thing my hearing is still pretty intact. I heard an answering meow. I called again and finally zeroed in on the source of the kitty voice.
It was coming from the rafters of the car garage. There is a storage area up there and sure enough, soon my little black and white furry face appeared overhead. I had the cat food dish in hand, with some nice rattly dry food and a healthy helping of tasty canned food. So I called and shook it.
In a minute or so, Patches jumped down onto my truck and finally the ground.
But he still kept his distance. This time, though, he kept rolling around on the driveway, one of the first signs of "making friends." I didn't approach him, but put the food where he could see it and sat down nearby. He keep rolling and meowing, showing his anxiety and inner conflict, but he wouldn't come to the food as long as I was too close. So I moved off and let him be. He went to the bowl and ate. but he was still nervous about it. I guess he thought any minute he'd be pounced on by the feline tag team.
I didn't press my luck, but it's really good news to know that he was actually in the garage. That means he's testing out the territory again and, the carport, where I store my hay, is where we first made our real frienship. I am estimating that in a few days we will be back together and I'll have him inside again.
But, as with all animals, I need to be patient.