Seventeen some odd years ago, a great fluffy cat we called Puff had one of her many litters in the backyard. There were three kittens in this litter. We named them Smokey, Frito, and Tabby. Tabby died within the first couple years. We never could tame him, really. He hung around and ate the food we put out for him, but he would flee if anyone tried to approach him. My parents ended up taking Frito to a shelter. He was very aggressive toward other cats and was constantly fighting. If someone who had no other pets was kind enough to adopt him, I have no doubt that Frito made a very good pet. I sincerely hope he found a good home. This left Smokey. Like her mother, Smokey could be quite elusive. We gave up trying to catch her and find a home for her. Most of the time, we would not see her for days on end unless she happened to come in to eat. Usually, she would eat and go right back outside.
As she got older, this changed a little. She would come in more frequently during the winter months and would actually stay in if the weather outside was horrid. My parents had several other cats who were indoor/outdoor cats and came and went as they pleased, so this worked.
In the past few months since I returned to Seattle, Smokey has wanted to be inside almost constantly. There were just a couple problems with this. One, Smokey refused to use the litter box. All the other cats did. She would not. She would do her business in the middle of the kitchen when she knew we were busy or asleep. Nothing we tried seemed to work. We knew she was aware of the litter box. She used to snooze in it when it was clean. Sticking her nose in it did nothing. Putting her outside did nothing. We simply allowed her inside less often because we were sick of cleaning up her messes. Two, Smokey eventually stopped cleaning herself. It was very obvious when it was wet outside, because she would come in looking half drowned and would stay looking that way until she completely dried out. There were large mats of fur on her belly. I considered actually taking her to the vet to get her cleaned up, but she would only get dirty again.
In the past couple weeks, she has been hovering around two places. Either we would see her with another of Puff's offspring, Gypsy, or we would be almost tripping over her as we went in or out the front door. She wanted in, but we were not interested in having her inside after her constant messes in the kitchen. We made sure food was readily available to her and Gypsy on the deck, but usually did not let her in. If we did, it would not be for very long. So, after weeks of constantly being aware of Smokey's presence, it was noticeable when we did not see her. I last saw her Friday as I wandered around the house. Dad thinks he heard her Saturday. No one has seen or heard her since. Dad and I both went outside and looked in her usual haunts. Nothing.
So, the only cat remaining from before I joined the Air Force may be Gypsy. She does not wander far. We can usually look outside during the day and see her on the deck. She likes to sun herself. The only time I do not see her near the deck is when the weather is horrid. Even so, she always comes to the deck in the evening to be fed.
We will keep an eye out for Smokey, but we are beginning to believe she may have curled up somewhere and passed.