In my part of the world there are a lot of strays. They have a pretty good life in summer, as this is a Greek tourist village so there’s plenty of Northern Europeans with tidbits to give out to the cute kitty meowing and curling around chairs. Not so much in the winter. I’d say they are semi-feral because of this.
Anyway, we have a local animal charity, mainly run by German expats, who feed the animals in winter, run checks on animal cruelty throughout the year, and provide food for those who cannot afford pet food for their pets, and also arrange to rehome dogs to “forever homes” in Germany and other countries. Another duty they carry out is a yearly session (this year’s should be coming up, actually) where cats are neutered. If they require medical care (one of the charity chiefs is a vet) then they will be taken in to be treated. The course of action after that largely depends on the cat. I’m not sure how they catch the feral cats–I’d have to ask one of them next time I bump into them–but it does depend on whether the cat wants to or not.
There’s a feral cat near us but she doesn’t like my dog or my chickens, so my neighbor often moans to me about how he has to feed the ginger minger. His words, not mine! She’s been neutered though. She’s fine and God knows between me and the neighbors, she’s well fed, my dog doesn’t bother her (my dog’s main interests are barking and running after pick-up trucks, tourists and passing tumbleweed, but looking nonplussed at other living creatures), and has acres of countryside to romp about it.
It takes a while for animals to get comfortable with you, and they all have their own personality. Your particular cat may be overly cautious. Keep doing what you are and, if you can, try to bring the food closer to you on a regular basis. It’s all about reducing the “massive human threat”. Your cat could be the cat version of Donald Trump for all you know!
I’m better with dogs and chickens. Plus, chickens give you eggs and sometimes come indoors to poop all over the floor and run away clucking indignantly. Dogs provide a useful warning system for anyone who comes near your home. Cats just sleep all day and look at you like you’ve murdered their family then leave a decapitated mousehead at your doorstep and miaow proudly!