Two summers ago, I noticed a white cat hanging around the neighborhood. He had the prettiest coloring. All white except for his black ears and tail. A few months later, I glanced out a window and saw him in my backyard leaping into the air trying to catch a bird. He was a changed cat. His beautiful white fur was filthy and matted. And he was so thin. I thought perhaps someone had moved and left him behind.
I started putting food out for him. He quickly learned my routine and would show up twice a day looking for a meal. The winter was unusually warm that year so I wasn’t concerned about him being outside. Every morning I would look out the window and he would be there waiting for his breakfast. We had a bad cold spell towards the end of the season. Everything was encased in ice so I started adding a bowl of water for him.
My vet suggested I try trapping him. I borrowed a trap from a friend who runs a rescue, but Hobo, as I had begun to call him, would have none of it. He would rather go without food than set foot in the trap. I hated to see him hungry and returned the trap.
I was never sure where he went when the weather was bad but when the door came off of my shed, he took up occasional residence there. Softy that I am, I removed the lid from an old litterbox, inverted it, folded old baby blankets into it and placed it in the shed for him to use as a bed. He took to it quickly.
I’ve grown accustomed to seeing him in my backyard. Waiting for a meal or sunning himself. I love walking into my shed and seeing his head pop out of the little bed near the wheelbarrow. Always wary, he would quickly run out and around to the back of the shed and wait for me to leave. Outside of the shed, he got better about sharing his “territory” with me. As long as I didn’t try to get too close, he would tolerate my presence while I worked in my gardens.
I had a bad scare last spring when he developed what looked like mange. There were clumps of white fur all over my backyard. He had visible bald spots on his body. But he seemed to recover and his coat filled in nicely. I’ve stopped worrying when he disappears for days. He always shows up again, none the worse for wear, looking for a meal and a drink.
So I wasn’t too concerned when he disappeared again last week. The weather had been bad. I’ve always thought that he had somewhere else to shelter in when it rained or snowed. Perhaps someone was taking him in. I was shocked when he showed up this weekend and his eyes were badly infected. I don’t know how he could see through all the goop. I made plans to try trapping him again to get him to a vet. He seemed willing, allowing me to get within just a few feet of him. I could almost reach out and touch him.
I saw him for the last time on Tuesday afternoon before I left for work. He had eaten and was sunning himself near the door to the shed. He was painfully thin but I was encouraged by the fact that he was eating. Then I didn’t see him again and his food went untouched.
It was with a heavy heart that I opened my shed today, knowing what I would find. He had been too weak to climb into his bed and was laying next to it, one paw resting on it. I got out my shovel and dug a grave in his favorite hiding place behind the shed. Wrapped in one of “his” blankets, I gently laid him to rest.
Rest in peace, Hobo. Your memory lives on in my garden and my heart.