I believe I saw him on the 19th during the day, but when I went to the barn to feed him, he was nowhere in sight. Usually, he accompanies me from somewhere close to the house to where I insist on feeding him, in the barn, far away from where we live.
But on the way to feed Nile, I saw rabbits. They bounded away as I walked by. I had not seen rabbits in months, so somehow this betokened the cat's absence from the property.
I sent my daughter out to look for him and to call him the following evening, when he had been missing for a day. He did not show up.
The day after that, Cowboy the neighbor dog suddenly joined me on my walk, which is something he had not done in a while. For a moment, I asked myself whether Cowboy could have had anything to do with Nile's disappearance, but I decided that it was probably the other way around. Now that Nile was no longer around, Cowboy felt free to come visit again. Nile used to hiss at Cowboy.
Yesterday, when I went out for a walk, I saw a long, black rat snake on its way to my door.
The snake's head was very close to the front step, but its tail was curled all the way around the corner of the house.
They say that when the cat's away, the mice will play. Well, I have not seen any mice, but perhaps they are out playing. This seems to be what the black rat snake is thinking.
When I returned from my walk, I thought for a moment that the black rat snake must have gone away, until I saw it draped on the stone wall by the entrance.
I do not suspect the black rat snake of killing Nile the cat. Nile was much too big for him. But I do think the snake is taking advantage of the cat's absence to fill in the same ecological niche.
The deer, on the other hand, seem more cautious today. They had grazed in the front yard, completely unafraid of the cat. But today, they peered at me from the pasture, and then they sneaked into the part of the yard where I cannot see them through the window. When they saw they had been spotted after all, they turned tail and ran.
Bow has not offered any observations on the absence of Nile the cat. He was never too fond of him.
We had a plan as to where Nile would live in November, once it got too cold to stay out. This plan would have also involved getting him fixed. Perhaps he got wind of our plan and made different plans of his own. Wherever he is, I hope he is happy and well.