Edmund came to us from Staten Island, a TNR recipient who couldn't return to his godforsaken turf. He remained with Empty Cages Collective for nearly seven months while they tried to find a place for him. We assimilated him into our group and he flourished. He loved our cats and was soon one of the family. Always energetic and friendly, it was hard to remember he was at least 8 years old when we brought him over, and possibly older. That's already pretty old for a feral cat.
Thursday night Edmund did something unusual: he let me pick him up. He had showed up at the kitchen window and when I opened it, he walked right in. He had snuck into the house before, but never with a human standing right there. He seemed out of it and looked deflated. At some point we decided he must be ill and should spend the night inside. I picked him up and he didn't really fight. I put him on the futon and set him up with food and a litter box. I gave him the canned food he loves but he didn't want any.
The next morning he seemed better, he hid under the futon and hissed at me when I peeked in. I had a full day of taking cats to a mobile spay clinic in Glendale, but I hoped he would bounce back. But when I got home, he was lying on the futon and seemed very weak. He didn't seem to be in pain but he seemed like he wasn't doing well. I knew he had showed elevated kidney levels 2 years before we had him, and I had noticed he had been drinking a lot of water lately. This pointed to kidney disease, which proves fatal to many older cats. I thought of taking him to the vet but I had to pick up the TNR cats and bring them home first. I tried to make him comfortable, with a heating pad under his blanket, and headed out.
When I got home, he was gone. He passed away quietly and I hope without pain. I don't know what to make of his coming inside, it was almost as if his feral behavior had always been an act, and here at the end he said, "We both know I'm not really afraid of you, I might as well come in and let them pick me up." Of course, he was probably too out of it to know what he was doing, but I'm glad I could provide him a comfy spot to go out on.
Edmund is now buried in our back yard, I still think I see him out of the corner of my eye when I'm out there. The other cats don't seem to notice, but I supposed they're not built to be sentimental. Even with Mugsy inside, they have carried on like nothing happened. We were worried they wouldn't recognize Mugsy when we released him, but aside from some momentary reticence, they went right back to their old habits. So they might not miss Edmund, but we sure will.