I've stopped leaping up at every unidentified voice now. I oscillate between acceptance and hope. Eventually I will possibly stop hoping and resign myself to acceptance, but so far, I keep hoping (pace Seneca).
Ratty was last seen, full of beans and energy, the morning before we returned to Exile. My domestic assistant gave him and the other cats their breakfasts and then let them all out into the garden for an airing. Apparently Ratty climbed a tree and skedaddled over the wall. Indrani tells me that while we were away, he took off on adventures twice before, once for two days, but he always came home.
When I am feeling optimistic, I think Ratty is out on an extended bachelor jaunt, like he used to have before his accident in early October. When I am feeling realistic? pessimistic? I think he must have had a final 'neurological meltdown' and has gone off to die by himself, as cats do. I worry that he may have been hit by a truck out on the big road, or he ate poison on the golf course, or he got swept up in a 'trap, neuter, return (somewhere else)' program.
I've spoken to all the other cats on the street, including LG (his little sister) and none of them have told me news of Ratty. I've looked in unoccupied gardens and through the fence, and I still call him from our garden. I've spoken to the maids I see out walking their employers' dogs, and I listen to all the voices of the peacocks and children, hoping to hear Ratty.
If I find his body, then that is that. I'll know he has gone. And yes, I expect I will stop hoping to see him on my doorstep, but not yet. I miss him.
LG is well and her fur has grown back. Strangely enough, she is still feeding her kittens in a haphazard way, although they are nearly as big as she is. They are devastatingly cute:
Soon it will be time to try to organise for more neutering and spaying as we have an abundance of gorgeous young cats on the compound. They are flourishing because people feed them, which means they are healthy and will soon start breeding too. In fact Seams' May brood are already big enough to be multiplying.