You may recall that we have two cats who have lived their lives in the back yard, with living quarters under the back of the house. In fact, Marc recently blogged about the mess they make around the house.
If you search this blog, you'll see cat references now and then. You can see a photo of Shirley here.
Thing is, we haven't Shirley in a week or so. She has disappeared for several days in the past, but she's getting rather old and seemed to be staying closer to home lately. She would wander a few blocks, but the disappearances seemed less frequent to me. Plus--and this is the really worrying thing--it never seemed to phase the other cat, her son (we call him Junior), in the past. But this time it's different. He has been much more vocal than usual, has seemed very upset and has been very receptive to being scratched and rubbing on our legs (unusual for him). We're trying not to anthropomorphize, but he seems like he's in mourning.
With all of this, and considering that Shirley still did some wandering of the streets, despite being half blind and almost completely deaf, we fear she may be dead. Junior may know something. I feel sorry for him. If she's dead, he may have seen her that way. I can relate to that. Seeing my parents dead is something I wish I could forget. Also, Junior and his mother have lived together for his entire life. Now he's alone, except for us (and our three dogs, two of whom make no bones about wanting him dead).
I know, I know. These are feral cats. For feral cats, they've had a good life. We can only guesstimate Shirley's age, but we know she is (or was) in double digits. We think she's somewhere around 13 years old. For a feral cat, that's a pretty good run.
Anyhow, it all makes me really sad. I guess part of it stems from Shirley having been around when both of my parents were alive, one of a line of cats with roots here back to when I was a kid; my Mom fed her every day for years. So she feels like a connection to those days. On top of it, we're the kind of people who try to catch moths and other bugs that get in the house, putting them back outside rather than killing them, if we can manage it, and I ache any time I see some animal (squirrel, raccoon, etc.) dead on the road. In other words, we're animal lovers. So this familiar little cat possibly having died really makes me sad. If she is gone, I hope the end was quick and painless. If you're gone, Shirley, rest in peace.