I've been given keys to the kingdom --to the gate and doors of the animal shelter, that is-- so I've adjusted my work schedule to begin half an hour earlier. I like starting before anyone else gets there; it feels like I get more done when I'm alone. Also I can theoretically beat the mad rush for the gate at noon: last one out locks it. I say "theoretically" because I still manage to work past noon...
...well, not today. I was done and ready to go by eleven. Said good bye see ya tomorrow to the kitties, threw my trash bags into the wheelbarrow and my camera and flea comb into my pocket and hit the door.
Way at the other end of the parking lot, where I park, near the dumpster, because, well, why not? I'm taking out the trash right before I leave... I see a black cat sitting, looking at me. I said, "hi, kitty," and kept pushing the wheelbarrow toward the dumpster. Cat got up and trotted off. I thought, "my, what a skinny black kitty, what a ragged tail on that long-haired black kitty," and after tossing my trash and parking my 'barrow, I went back inside to fill a newspaper fold with kibble for it. Then it hit me. Is that Sapphire???
Sapphie's been missing. The last time I saw her was last Friday morning, or possibly Thursday evening. She tends to "go walkabout" so I'm not overly concerned, but she's sixteen and has skin problems and her tail is very ragged, and --although she did catch at least one hummingbird this summer-- she's well, she's old and frail. Could she have hitched a ride underneath the truck and been living out of the shelter's dumpster ever since?
I looked and I called and I crawled around the vehicles permanently parked there, but didn't see that shadow cat again. So I went home. I'll be back early tomorrow, and hopefully, if that's indeed my Sapphire (Bob's Sapphire; she's lived in this house 2 years longer than I have), she'll come to me.
So then I went home. Greeted the dog, a couple of the cats, the chickens and guineas and was walking around the chicken enclosure looking for eggs when I saw Alice. Skinny Alice, who had been quite wide through the middle just 24 hours earlier. Alice who'd had her kittens this morning. I knew this, because I got rid of the dead one and put a fresh towel under the other four, but I'd completely forgotten about it till just then. It's nice to have a job that so thoroughly distracts me from the rest of my day-to-day drama.
Well, the four are still on the couch and still warm and not making a lot of noise, so I assume either she's taking care of them and just stepped out for a break when I got home, or is not taking care of them and they're too young to make a lot of fuss about it. Time will tell.