Sometime last night, Twilight passed away. We have no idea what may have been wrong; he was, after all, a feral cat, and it could have been almost anything.
Twilight had vanished a couple of days ago, not being there to greet us as he always did, and not touching his food. We were worried, but thought he might have decided to hole up in the shed at the end of our property, or maybe had just gone back to hunting full-time. It didn't seem right, though; he always seemed to be either on the side deck, or on or next to the front porch. And he liked his food. It's been so bitterly cold this winter for our area, and that food kept his warmth up. He always purred so loudly when we fed him, and seemed so grateful when we'd dump the ice out of his water bowl and give him fresh.
Then he was back. But acting off, still not eating well, not moving around as much. He'd still get up to herd the dogs, especially Jack, but when the dogs came in, he'd just plop down on the walkway instead of coming back up to his food bowl as usual. A couple of days ago I very foolishly cast caution to the wind and picked Twilight up. I didn't even have anything on my hands to protect them, and fully expected to be scratched to pieces for my trouble. Instead, he let me carry him up to his nesting area, giving him skritches and petting him, with him only squirming a bit to be put down when we got there. Honestly, I was stunned, and didn't know whether it was a breakthrough, or he was worse off than I thought.
But we couldn't see anything wrong. I did notice that he was favoring his left hind leg just a bit, yet he was able to walk on it. He was always a 'talker', but he got very vocal the last couple of days. I fretted that he was in pain somehow, but again, no sign of injury...and if I had hurt him picking him up, he showed no sign of it. For about a day and a half he apparently ate nothing, even when we tried to hand feed him. DH took out a piece of pork roast yesterday afternoon, and Twilight wouldn't touch that, so we put it in his bowl.
Then last night, the DH came back in after taking the dogs for their final potty break, and said a good amount of food was gone, including the pork. We were relieved. Twilight was out with the dogs, but the DH said he was suddenly very wobbly in the back paws. We checked on him later, and he was in that shelter he never used.
This morning, he was still there, and the DH told me he was gone. Now someone please tell me why I am grieving for a cat I never wanted, never saw before November, and never even had in my home? For cripesakes, I'm allergic to the creatures! So why did I cry all over the poor DH's shoulder? Dammit.
I'm a firm believer that people...and animals...come into our lives for a reason, to meet a need we have, or for us to meet one of theirs. I'm not sure what we might have done for him that he couldn't do for himself, but I know it made us happy to feel we had a bit of his trust.
In one of Nature's little ironies, I saw the first snowdrops of the season, such a lovely sign that Spring is around the corner. It usually makes me feel so happy.