Good Night, Sweet Fletch
I've been avoiding this post, but there's nothing left to do but write it.
Fletch didn't come home for breakfast Saturday before last, and we haven't seen him for 10 days. We're not certain what happened to him, but it's pretty clear that he's gone. The kids and I covered the neighborhood with flyers to see if anyone picked him up, but we haven't gotten any responses.
One hard part has been not knowing what happened to him. As a (mostly) outdoor cat, we always knew his life span would be shorter than some hothouse flower kitty. He was a former stray, so his age was always a guess: he was likely between 9 and 10 years old, but he could have been older. He could have gotten sick, or could just have been older than we thought--he had been sleeping an awful lot lately. He may have trotted off to curl up under a bush somewhere to be alone at the end, as cats are wont to do.
It's always possible that he got in a fight with something bigger, or met his match with a predator (though we haven't seen anything higher up on the food chain around here). He's always been really smart about cars, and we didn't find a body anywhere in the neighborhood, so a traffic accident seems unlikely (though not impossible).
In the back of our minds, we can't help hoping that he is with his second family--someone had him once before during the blizzard, and maybe they aren't willing to let him back outside this time around.
But we know that's probably not true, and it's time to let go.
This has been a very difficult week for adults and kids alike. When we first adopted Fletch, we were expecting to host a fully outdoor, semi-feral barn cat who would stop by for food and keep the critter population at bay.
We did not know that we were getting the world's sweetest barn cat--one who would come when you called and sneak a spot on your lap at every possible opportunity. One who kept sick kids company and demanded petting in the middle of gardening projects. One who put up with unheard of indignities from kids who carried him around the house and chickens who shared sleeping quarters.
And he was a damn fine hunter, too.
We're so very sorry to say goodbye to the best cat we could have hoped for. This is how I'd like to remember him: outside, guarding the orchard and enjoying the sunshine.