Saturday, January 8, 2011

Handsome Gone Missing!

Handsome is missing, and I'm worried about him. My desktop weather widget says it's 13 deg F, and my toes--tucked up under the green comforter as I write this-- say it's a cold Saturday morning. A hot chocolate type of morning.

No hot chocolate for the feral cats. I know they have what they need. The kittie palace lovingly built from bales of hay is in place and inviting. Myself and two other neighbors are each feeding once a day, so food is no problem. We've even been putting out canned food several times a week. Canned food is easier for the kitties to digest, meaning it takes less calories for them to digest. This is good, in the winter. Less calories used in digestion means more calories left over to keep warm.  And I've been changing the water every day, rotating water bowls, so when one freezes, I can take another out. Water is always a problem for city wildlife, often more so even than food.

Day before yesterday, Handsome was limping from a hurt front paw. My heart aches for him; he's an old man now, the oldest in the colony, about ten years old, we think. He's a big fluffy yellow cat, with rheumy eyes. In summer, he likes to lay in the sun, soaking up the rays. His days of lording it over the colony and the younger males are long over now. Although still the largest of the cats, that bulk is mostly fur; the younger males, a few of which we think are his sons, outweigh him and have for a long time.  Gone are the days when he would stroll onto my back porch at feeding time and head for whichever bowl attracted his attention as the younger males scattered to give him place. Now, he hangs on the outside fringes, hesitant, cringing away from the slaps of the other males, waiting a turn.

Yesterday, in the bitter cold, he wasn't present at feeding time at all. This happens; he's always been a wanderer. We sometimes suspect he has several homes of humans he visits, perhaps even has a human home where he lives. Still, I can't help but remember that wounded paw, the cold, neighborhood dogs and neighborhood hooligans. I can't help but send up desperate prayers for an elderly ginger cat, out and about in the alleys of the city this cold weekend. I hope he's warm and safe and not afraid.


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