Mugsy is not gonna win any Cat Fancy awards, but he's one of our favorite feral cats. He's gotten a lot sweeter since we callously trapped and castrated him, which makes me think we should start doing this to people who bug us as well. It's tough love! Anyway, he usually hangs out in our yard with his boyfriend George. He has his own chair under the gazebo tent, a disheveled patio chair with a hair-matted cushion on it. He comes by every day. Or I should say, he did come by every day.
Last Tuesday he abruptly stopping showing up. George still came by to eat, but he seemed like half a cat without Mugsy. Of course, he's a feral cat and by definition they don't have a home and are therefore sort of entitled to wander wherever they want. But it seemed increasingly strange that this one wasn't showing up. Frankly, where would he go besides our yard?
So I climbed through the fence in the back yard and started looking for him. It was a dumb idea, like a feral cat is gonna just sit there and wait for me to walk up, o hai. But I thought maybe I could get some idea of what had happened to him. A feral's life is hard, often brutal and usually short. I half-expected to find his dead body in the bushes, guarded by George.
Behind our house there is a run-down rectory and a recently-resurrected church (bad economy = holy rollin' weekends). The rectory house appears to be unused and we often joke that the cats live inside it. Beyond the church, the rest of the block is houses in a variety of styles; right next door is a 6-family frame house. I crept behind the church, simultaneously trying not to attract attention and acting like I was supposed to be there.
I went past the church to the 6-family house. It's in a pretty sorry state, the best thing about it is the relatively new plywood panels boarding up all the windows (still I'm not entirely sure that people aren't living there). Just as I rounded the corner, I saw what appeared to be George's distinctive tail disappearing under the corner of the house. I knelt down and could see a hole just below the aluminum siding, just big enough for a cat to fit through. All joking aside, these feral cats have their own damn house!
I didn't have a flashlight so I couldn't see much more. But I figured if George was in there, then Mugsy was probably also there, if at all. There wasn't anything I could do but hope he would show up again. Just over a week later, Mugsy did return, his eyes crusted mostly shut from an upper respiratory infection, but otherwise unharmed. I can't figure out how he survived all that time, but there's probably water in the house, and who knows, maybe he was catching mice.
God help the local cats if the economy recovers enough that somebody fixes up this neighborhood, where will all the cats live? Don't answer that.