O.K., first, know that you're not alone. Know that, for sure and certain, there are people here who understand what you're going through, and what you're doing for this guy.
Thank you, from my heart and from my half dozen (all of which were strays and/or ferals) they send purrs and love.
I'm the proud slave to Penguin, the cat that lived under the bed. Her thread is in this forum, as a repost and consolidation of another thread.
To be brief, here's Pengy's story.
Year one: she eats on the porch, and I try to befriend her. She won't let me, and gets skinnier and skinnier. She's not moving well, so I decide to trap her. it took a month and a week to actually get her into the trap. I got her to the vets and checked out thoroughly. She has healed fractures of her spine, both hips, and her left femur was broken in 4 places. Her tail had also been chopped off. The vet thinks she was badly beaten by someone, and then tossed out. How she lived is a miracle in itself.
Inside, month one: she escapes from the cage I had her in, and disappears under the bed. On occasion, one of the other cats goes under the bed, and a fight ensues. She is terrified, panting and shaking. Hissy tells me to get my head out of my a$$ and stop looking under the bed, stop taking pictures of her (can you imagine her fear of the flash!!) stop trying to touch her, and just stop everything but food and water consistently in the same place at the same time.
Inside, months 2-9: I forget, except at dinner time, that I have Pengy. She lives under the bed, and leaves when I go to sleep. She has a litter box in the bedroom and uses it, and I religiously check her stool for any unusual thing (it's literally the only evidence that there is a cat here.). On occasion, there are cat fights, but nothing too severe. Eventually, they don't care if she's there or not. I try to ignore her, and despite wanting to reach in and pet her, I don't even peer under the bed again. I figure she's warm, fed and safe...and if that's the best I can do, that'll do. But I want to hug her, too...and feel her purring. Maybe that will come someday.
Inside, months 9-12: Pengy starts to explore a bit more. I come home to find her on the kitty condo. I've been using Feliway/Comfort Zone, and it seems to be assisting her in discovering that the house is safe. Still, though, she'll bolt when I come into the room, back under the bed. So I sit in the doorway while she's in the condo, and chat with her, cuddle the other cats, and just let her experience my glorious presence. Someday she'll get that I'm glorious. Until then, at least I'm no longer the enemy. I still bring her food and water at the same time every day. And she is still using the litter appropriately (mostly...some oopsies, but whatever.). My bedroom reeks of cat food and litter, but seeing as I don't have a date, it's all good.
Year 1, inside, months 1-5: She's coming out more, now. She goes into the hallway when I'm in the living room, sort of checking up on me. I talk to her all the time, and mostly she won't run from me. She's really starting to find out that I'm not an ogre, and that I might be all right...maybe, someday, she'll let me hug her and be her friend. Until then, she has the toys and the other cats. There's no more fighting, thank goodness...but she still won't come near me unless it's a mistake.
She also has started getting up onto the trunk at night, sleeping in the same room I'm in. I no longer feel as if I have the feline version of leprosy. She's got some toys she bats around, and it is really wonderful to see her up there, playing and knowing I'm watching, but still...playing with good abandon.
I'm starting to think we might be able to make this journey after all.
Year 1, month 6-current: well, she seems to have decided I'm not going to kill her on sight, and that if I am the bringer of food, I might have value after all. She's been seen in the hall, the bath, the kitchen, the living room. She even got onto the sofa (while I was on the computer), and curled up. I've long thought she liked that spot, but who knew? She's less frightened of me, holding steady while I walk (with my back turned to her) past on my way to another part of the house. She listens to my voice, knows her name, and actually has been seen belly up while I was in the same room.
More recently, she's taken food from my finger (as long as I wasn't looking at her; and this happened once), I've heard her voice for the first time (ferals don't tend to make noise), and she's gotten up into the chair next to my computer chair. Huge steps forward. She's also sniffing my finger while I pet one of the other cats, and will, on occasion, sniff my finger if offered while she is hanging out on the trunk. I still haven't petted her, but it's getting closer. Maybe another year, but I am now positive it will come...it's just a matter of when.
Anyway, all that's to say that had I continued to muck around with sticking my head under the bed, Pengy still would be tucked away from me. Hissy is right - and as good-hearted a person as you'll find - when she gives you advice. My advice is to take hers as if it were the Kitty Bible, and go from there.
I know that most feral cases aren't as tough as mine, so don't be disheartened by the nearly 2 years she's lived in the house without contact. She was badly hurt by people, and so she has to learn - the hard way - to trust again. She is really coming out of her shell now, and she's a dear, sweet, loving, lovely girl. I am indeed blessed by her presence, whether or not I can touch her.
You, Lilliah, have already made progress. You will continue to make progress as long as you let your boy call the shots. Keep a regular routine - food in the same place at the same time, litter cleaned (even if there isn't anything to clean) at the same time, and always use your "inside" voice - quiet, calm, relaxing, and comforting. I sang to Pengy, although my voice is terrible. She seemed to like it...
You'll find your pace. i'm positive. And in the meantime, this site is the best place on the web for help with kits and for making friends of the feline persuasion. Glad to see you got here, hope you'll stay a while, and let us know of your progress.