A cool fall day, sunny, the leaves just starting to change color on the trees in Queens. I took a long walk toward evening, since I avoid the direct rays of the midday sun, what with my nose’s history of cancer and all. The end of the long loop took me past a suburban house, on Tudor Road, where usually I see as many as a dozen feral cats lounging, clearly being fed and cared for there. A couple of small dogs lived behind the fence, and they were pretty calm little dogs, by the looks of it. The cats always seemed very comfortable there, a tiny one slept in a little hollow in the strip of grass by the sidewalk, others were arrayed on the sloping lawn. This evening I passed as the light was dying away into a chilly fall evening. I was struck by the lack of animals.
It was light enough to notice that the car parked in the driveway was encrusted in grime. It was a small, squarish car and it would have been hard to see through the windows of it from the inside. I noticed that the passenger side front tire, the only one visible to me as I approached, was flat. There was no kitten curled in that depressed spot in the grass by the sidewalk, nor any other cats that I could see. There were several black plastic plates with the remains of some wet cat food smeared in them. There were several dirty plastic bins on the sidewalk, packed haphazardly, lids askew, their contents seemingly random. In one, on its side, was an almost colorless orange cat, lying on a red towel.
I paused to look at the cat. The cat raised its dirty head listlessly and looked at me with slight suspicion. It’s cat disdain was clear to see, as was the missing eye on the side of the face that had been resting on the towel. There were no other cats to be seen. This one glared at me for a moment, until I moved on, then presumably continued its nap in the dying light of one of the first chilly days of the fall.
Life for feral cats is short and brutal and the winters are certainly no fun for them. Few, from the evidence of short lives of the kittens and adult feral cats around Sekhnet’s, survive more than a winter or two. The world weariness of this cat was striking. I could have been looking at a veteran of ten consecutive deployments in a hostile and senseless war zone. I walked on, thinking of how savagely hard so many lives are. It appeared that the eccentric old protector of these feral cats on Tudor Road had probably moved on, by the looks of it. Every thing that lives moves on.