|After he was attacked by coyotes in 2013, it was hard for us to let Mr. Darcy outside again. But here he is, stalking through this year's crop of daisies.|
|A favourite spot to watch the world go by is between the two hedges leading out to the sidewalk. When a dog appears, Mr. Darcy makes a quick retreat.|
|This scary yawn wasn't enough to keep the coyotes away.|
|We made a cage out of the back porch by enclosing it in chicken wire. That way, Mr. Darcy can spend time in the outdoor air after being brought in for the night.|
|When he can't go out, Mr. Darcy is often up on a windowsill keeping track of his outdoor world.|
|Mr. Darcy has recovered enough strength in his injured back leg to be able to jump up and down from a high window ledge. A chair helps.|
|Yes, sometimes he enjoys the great indoors, when a supine person's knees are covered with this favourite wool blanket.|
I will never forget the look Mr. Darcy gave me the first time I let him outside. He was under a year old, and until then he had only seen the great outdoors through glass. I was reluctant to let him out, but something in me wouldn't allow him to spend his entire life indoors, even though I knew all the negatives -- cars, coyotes, poison, birds....
So I put him on a leash, and out we went for a tour of the yard. As we stood under the laburnum tree by the side of the house, he looked up at the tree, and his eyes sought mine. They said it was wonderful; they said he was where he belonged; they said he was in paradise.
Then something startled him; he jerked and the leash snapped apart. And suddenly he was an outdoor cat.
It hasn't been easy. I insist that he spend every night indoors, and wage lengthy battles to make that happen. But one night in April of 2013, all my best tricks failed, and as I lay awake worrying at 4 a.m., there came the worst noise I have ever heard. Running outside with the flashlight, I saw a coyote, then two, then three, take off down the street in the beam of light I directed at them. On the lawn of the house next door was Mr. Darcy, blood coming from his mouth.
Three or four hard months later, after multiple surgeries and huge vet bills, his fur had started to grow back and we faced the question again of whether to let him outside. It was harder than ever, but of course we did. We know he may disappear one day or night -- the "missing cat" posters I pass on my walks make my heart sink.
But he is living his cat life, and to me, he is a daily reminder to be very, very grateful for the treasures I have in the moment.