Thursday, February 5, 2015
This week my new health insurance company sent me another ID card. I’m not sure why. I wish they’d send me a copy of my policy so I’d know what kind of coverage the American taxpayers are buying for me. At least nobody grabbed any more money out of my account. I guess we can call that progress.
Something else is missing, and it means more to me than an insurance policy or even corporations lifting bucks from my bank account. There isn’t anything I can do about it, either.
Around the middle of January Stray Kitty stopped dropping by for breakfast. For close to two years I could count on him showing up for his morning meal, and sometimes an afternoon or evening meal as well. I had to take the bowls off the porch after the borough sent me a letter to let me know feeding feral cats was illegal, but that didn’t stop either of us. He’d show up at the door and I’d feed him, then whisk the plate inside so nobody saw. In this manner I enjoyed civil disobedience and Stray Kitty enjoyed a full belly. No harm done.
On that day in mid-January when he didn’t show up, I simply shrugged it off. He’d skipped days before. Sometimes he’d miss the morning meal but turn up in the afternoon. I’d come home from the library or the grocery store and there he’d be by the door, probably wondering why I wasn’t in the house getting his food for him. More than once I went to leave the house and unexpectedly found him waiting for an afternoon snack. I’d put the plate out and then have to wait around until he was done because if I stepped outside the door he’d run off. Two years and he still wouldn’t come near me unless I had a can of Little Friskies in my hand. He wasn't the trusting sort.
He also had at least one other neighbor doling out the goodies, maybe more. We all knew his background. He wasn’t a stray by choice; he’d been dumped on the street by his deadbeat owners. We were more than willing to help him out.
At any rate, he didn’t come for breakfast that day. Or the next day. Or the next. Or the day after that. By the third day, I became concerned. It wasn’t just in the morning. The afternoon and evening drop-ins stopped as well. I didn’t find him on the porch any more when I came back from the library. The neighbors’ indoor-outdoor cat still stopped in every now and then, but of course he couldn’t tell me anything.
After over a week of no-shows, I asked around. The other neighbor who’d been feeding him hadn’t seen him either. A neighbor who put out boxes for him to sleep in said she hadn’t seen him in three weeks. He used to be fairly visible around the neighborhood. I’ve been keeping an eye out, but there’s been no sign of him.
It’s now been almost a month. I can only reach the logical conclusion, that he’s gone.
I don’t know what happened. There weren’t any black-and-white lumps in the road, at least not on any roads I checked. He might have gotten sick, or eaten some roadkill and picked up a parasite. He looked and acted healthy to me right up until the time he disappeared, though I thought his meow sounded funny. He might have had a cold. I think cats get colds. His fur was nice and thick, and he had plenty of houses and sheds to shelter under, so I don’t think it was the temperatures. Considering how often he stopped in for a handout, I can say with utmost confidence he didn’t starve to death. Not unless his gut got him wedged under a shed or something.
Maybe a dog got him, or one of the other stray cats. Or some kid in the apartments behind the mobile home park. I know he used to prowl down there. He may have changed territories, but I don’t think he’d simply abandon such reliable sources of food. It’s true: once you feed a cat, they’ll keep coming back, unless something happens to prevent them.
I like to think somebody caught him, and he’s spending the winter in somebody’s house, probably under a bed or a sofa. He wasn’t all that sociable, which may be why the deadbeats kicked him out in the first place. I wish now I’d tried harder to lure him into my house. I made a couple half-assed attempts, but he wouldn’t fall for it. I wasn’t that concerned. He made it through last winter, when the temps were even colder and we had more snow. I figured he could handle another one. Guess not.
So that’s the tale of Stray Kitty. I’m going to wait another week or two, give him a full month to reappear. If he doesn’t show up, I’ll take the remaining cans of cat food to the ASPCA or Petsmart or somewhere that can tell me where I can donate them. (I already offered them to the neighbor, but she said her indoor cats don’t eat cat food. She feeds them tuna. Why not? We fed our dog a mixture of dog food and table food, and she lived to be 16 and had all her teeth and was active right up to the end. Diet or just good genes? You be the judge.)
Rest in peace, Domino, whatever happened to you. I’m not feeding any more strays unless they let me pet them and they’re willing to come into the house. This also holds true for men. The cat didn’t have money, so he gets a pass. If some guy wants me to feed him, he’d better buy me a car.