It’s an eternal, no doubt unresolvable debate: Cats – indoors only or allowed to roam? Mine never go out, for several reasons. Recently I was forcibly reminded of one of them.
A few nights ago I was at the farm, having given the horses their late feeding, and was standing by the paddock gate, listening to the faint far night cries of coyotes, when suddenly, seemingly much closer (the nearest hayfield? locating sounds is chancy at night), there was a burst of excited coyote yapping, two terrible shrieks of a cat – then silence.
I yelled something after the first shriek, something really useful, like maybe “Hey!” which I daresay wasn’t even noticed, then walked out past the little pond and around the knoll in the moonlight, looking for – what? The mangled corpse of one of the barn cats, I suppose. Found nothing. All three of the barn cats were there the next day, and there are feral cats eking out an existence in the farm’s fields. A walk in the next day’s light around the knoll revealed no trace of whatever had happened the night before.
I still feel sad and a little sick whenever I think of it, and I think of it most nights when I do late feeding.