Farmer H thinks the neighbors took our cat. I don't know how he knows this. He's not exactly a member in good standing of Mystery, Inc. But he could do a bang-up job repairing the Mystery Machine if necessary.
She's a long-haired cat, mostly white, with some yellow and gray calico patches. It's not that I begrudge the neighbors glomming onto a free pet at my expense. Even though we did pay her neutering bill and feed her for the past seven years. I'm sure they will give her a good home.
The issue is that she's a sentimental cat. The boys got her as a kitten, from an ex-colleague of mine. We drove to her house, climbed up into a playhouse that acted as nursery to two litters, and The Pony chose her specifically for her gray toe. He was only six years old.
That fluffy kitten was a real hellcat. She hated everybody except me. The first time Farmer H met her, he reached his hand toward the back of the pet carrier where she huddled, refusing to come out onto the porch. "Hey there, kitty." She snarled and took a psychotic swipe at Farmer H's arm. "Huh," he said. It was the start of a rocky relationship. Every time she saw him, she gave him a wide berth, and hissed for good measure. The Pony named her Snuggles.
We acquired her brother from a different mother on the same day. A short-haired, orange tiger-stripe named Genius by the #1 son. The two felines were inseparable until Genius disappeared one Labor Day weekend. We have no idea where he went or how he returned, but when he showed up a month later, he cried to come in the house, and stood on his back legs while grabbing the doorknob with his front paws. To no avail, because we don't let our cats in the house. Maybe that's why Snuggles has forsaken us.
Once Genius returned, Snuggles wanted nothing to do with him. Gone were the days of entwined sunbathing on the back porch. Of purring, kneading, grooming companionship. She acted like he was a stranger. It didn't help that we rescued three kittens dumped by our mailbox row the next spring. Snuggles avoided them like the plague. I was her only friend. She loved to curl up on my chest and rub her head under my chin while I sat on the porch.
In latter days, those three mailbox cats ganged up to torment Snuggles mercilessly. She never crossed an open area without an escape plan, whether it be under a wooden play set or inside a box built as a cat house or on top of a garden shelf. She could fend off her enemies from such strategic positions. Sometimes she didn't make it, and the roving mob left wads of her long white fur to blow across the planks like hairy tumbleweeds.
Now she's gone. Perhaps, one day, to return.