That is what I’m telling myself, anyway. It’s the best I can do, as things stand. Sometimes you have to take comfort were you can find it.
Like the hobos of yore, needy critters have a knack for finding a dependable handout. I don’t know if they leave marks on the fence posts or there’s a part of the Deep Internet known only to the four-legged, but the word gets around. Sandy first came to me about six months ago. He was a decidedly ragged, fully grown tomcat whose lean and hungry look was underscored by that particular sadness and bewilderment that you see in dumped animals.
You learn to pick the lost and abandoned from the truly wild. Wild kitties—like the two small kittens who showed up here, minus their mother, about a week ago—hide at a glance. Like the possums and raccoons that also occasionally come panhandling, wild kitties raise paranoia to an art, the better to survive a world dense with enemies. Most often, you see only a tail tip as it disappears behind or under something. But abandoned pets usually float just out of reach, their hunger and their fear of yet another betrayal warring with their hope of not only a meal, but the recovery of the thing they’ve lost. They want to come home.
Sandy, his name suggested by the nondescript paleness of his yellow coat and eyes, fit the pattern precisely. He hung back for several months before trusting me to run a hand over his skinny, scabby frame. But his commitment and trust, once offered, were total. Whatever he had lost had come back to him in the shape of a middle-aged, perpetually harried human whose familiarity with dashed hopes and unanswered needs made the yearnings of a stray cat very comprehensible indeed.
Knowing the drill, I dutifully arranged the needed times and procedures at a vet’s, the treatment of hurts, the removal of parasites. As a temporary house guest confined post op to the bathroom, Sandy cheerfully basked in the attentions of whoever opened the door, rolled and purred as we went about our days, rejoiced in his recovered domesticity. When he was well and healed of everything, he happily rejoined my small crew of outdoor cats, contented to know that if he scratched at the screen, I’d usually find a minute to join him on the porch for a round of head and tummy rubs. Along with steady meals, he wanted no more than that.
I’ll never know why he did what he seemingly never did after he came to me, left the safety of a fenced yard to cross a quiet street on a quiet morning. I missed him for breakfast and found him lying where the truck or whatever it was threw him, just a few feet from my driveway.
I never took any pictures of him, so I’ve had to move quickly to catch my memories with a distracted brush before they vanish, leaving only his name. It cost me very little of time or money to see that he did not die nameless or uncared for, hurt or sick or hungry or cold or lost. But even so, perhaps the positive balance of my karma now weighs a grain more in my favor—although I’d so much rather that Sandy was still with me, that I didn’t keep looking for him and rediscovering that he’s gone.