Black & White was a healthy, happy old girl. She had been spayed for quite some time and was a very predictable cat, spending most of her time between my backyard and my next door neighbor's. We could rely on her to show up for breakfast and dinner every day. She was a good eater, and rarely missed a meal. Though she was not terribly old in years, she was no longer very nimble and had some difficulty scaling the fence between neighboring yards.
What I loved most about Black & White was her infatuation with Old Man Grey. When he made his entrance to the alley, they became inseparable. Black and White would watch for him just outside the gate and once he turned the corner of the alley, she would dart over to greet him. The two of them weaving their little bodies together, winding and unwinding their tails around each other, greeting each other in the sweetest way. Winding and entwining they would make their way to my back stoop, looking through the glass kitchen door, bumping their heads together and nudging each other lovingly as they awaited breakfast or dinner.
During the winter months, after their meal, they would retire to one of our winter shelters—Black & White had selected one of the finer abodes. Black & White was mistress of her domain (my back yard), and was first to explore and utilize (sometimes claim) each new thing we provided. Thus giving us an immediate sense of satisfaction (thank you, Black & White). She was particularly fond of our patio furniture, and was delighted last year when we sprung for a new set. Her hedonistic enjoyment of all our amenities was a regular source of amusement to us. We watched her and chuckled.
A few years ago, I created a winter shelter by placing some coolers lined with bedding under an outside table and then covered this table with a solar heated pool cover (these were ideas I found on the internet). We were careful to secure the cover so that there were no drafts except near a very small entrance. This actually created a kind of solarium—the afternoon sun would warm up the pool cover, creating an inside temperature that was a good deal warmer than the outside temperature. I had imagined it would provide shelter and enjoyment for multiple cats, but no sooner was it finished, Black & White sauntered in and claimed it as her own. She would share with Old Man Grey, of course, but it was mostly she who could be seen bathing or stretched out and napping beneath the blue-bubbled dome for hours at a time on sunny winter days.
Of all the cats that went missing, it is especially heartbreaking to think that she too had fallen victim to animal cruelty. Black & White lacked any speed or athletic ability, and with her matronly build and short little legs, she was easy prey. A defenseless old lady.