Goodbye, Courtney. Wherever you are...
Well, that cat of mine disappeared again over a week ago, and this time I'm pretty sure it's for good. No sign of her (or her remains, though), so I can't confirm one way or the other.
I know that the last time she took off for a few days (last August or September) she was actually hanging out at my neighbor's house eating his cat's food (he told me so afterward!). Not this time... in fact my now ex-neighbor Ron moved out back at the end of March... he, wife & son (and cat) live in Mandarin now to be closer to Mayo Clinic where his son is still receiving cancer-treatment.
Courtney wasn't feeling very well even in the days prior to her latest disappearance. She was eating very little... no, she wasn't puking that much like she had in the past, but she sat in the litter-box all day, and looked to me like she was in some kind of discomfort. Then Friday the week before last I let her outside with the other cat (grayhair) before leaving for work, and I haven't seen her since. Courtney was about a year old (as I recall, according to my house's previous owners) when I moved into my house here in January 2002 & adopted her and the grayhair (named Nippy) which would put her age today - assuming she's still alive - at about 12 or 13 years old. Nippy's even older - she's an ex-feral who was neutered by local animal-control (her ear is "clipped" thus her name), and shes's also not her usual self... not eating much, lays down a lot, and in recent weeks has even lost her voice (she can hardly meow now)... likely a sign of old age, I guess. Nippy may not be long for this world, either.
I rode around the neighborhood, found some road-kill on the side of the road this past week, including what looked like a dead cat on Monument Road, but it was too decomposed to tell if it was Courtney or not but it was a tabby (she usually never strayed that far anyway, and there a tall wooden fence separating Monument Road from the neighborhood). We also have a few stray cats around here, and some of the neighbors have complained about them in a recent Neighborhood Watch meeting, so it's also probable that animal-control had set a few traps (particularly the house next door that Ron used to live in - it's now on the market, and the owner/realtor I'm sure doesn't want to lessen the chances of a sale by having a few ferals roaming around, so I wouldn't be surprised if he took matters into his own hands).. but again no evidence, no remains found to confirm so this is all speculation.
Generally, if any ferals are caught in these traps and taken back to the animal-shelter they would almost certainly be euthanized. Sometimes an animal is friendly enough (and healthy enough) to be put up for adoption, and given a second chance instead of an automatic death-sentence... if Courtney ended up in one of these traps I doubt that she would be re-adopted (particularly with the dermatitis she's had for several years now, it could be mistaken for mange and she would get the needle). But... that's the chance you take with having an indoor/outdoor cat, especially one that was, before I adopted her, was an abandoned pet to begin with and had to fend for herself outdoors before I moved into this house that I live in.
I talked to one of my other neighbors (who's a neighborhood-watch captain on my street) and he told me that an animal-control vehicle was here in the neighborhood last weekend, but whether he caught any strays, or saw if any cats were captured, he could not tell.
Another possible scenario (unlike the two suggested above) was that maybe Courtney was much sicker that I thought, and maybe she crawled away to some shed or other hiding-place in the neighborhood to die... or was killed by a dog (we do have a lot of big dogs around here - my backyard-neighbor has a pit-bull, for example - fortunately a very sturdy & tall wooden fence encloses my backyard, but neighboring backyards have fences that are not well maintained & near-collapse in certain places allowing such dogs to get through - and both my cats could easily climb up & over my backyard-fence to get into a neighbor's yard if they wanted to), or who knows what. In any event, it's been over a week now so it very unlikely she will return.
That cat has been a part of my life for 12+ years... she will be missed. No reason to get emotional, everything's cool, just cherish the memories and hope that she's in a good place, or if she did "bought it" that she didn't suffer much, if at all. Thank you for the company, kitty!
Still, I'll be offline for a few days while I mourn & remember...