One of my cats is missing, and presumed eaten. I don't know how long he's been gone, because he vanished around when I got really sick, and I don't know when that started or how long it lasted. I also don't remember if he was gone before I got sick, or if that happened while I was ill. I've never had a physical illness fuck with my memory like this.
In addition to being barely able to take care of myself and the other three that managed to stay, I wasn't concerned because one of his sisters is in the habit of going away for a few days, even a couple weeks, now and then. They are both really good hunters, and catch (and eat) hefty game like squirrels, wood rats, and decent-sized birds like robins. This time of year they'll catch at least one critter a day. They are both extremely shy, so putting up lost cat posters, notices on Craigslist (which gets maybe one hit a year from this neck of the woods) wouldn't do much good.
Then MAO went missing. And the porch was covered with the spray of a large predator. And MAO's remaining two offspring were acting really weird. I wasn't very functional that day. Fortunately I found her, 20 feet up a tree. She wasn't coming down. I dragged a ladder on top of the carport, fought the vertigo of standing on that (ladders and I don't get along) to hold out an eight-foot-long plank to a branch below the one she was on, and she wouldn't step on to that fucking thing to walk down to me. Eventually I had to give up. I was physically exhausted from repeatedly putting the ladder on the roof of my truck, climbing up onto the carport, pulling the ladder up onto the carport, trying various things, putting the ladder back on the truck, climbing down, getting more stuff, climbing back up, lather, rinse, repeat.
I figure, she's a cat. She'll get down when she's ready. The tree has a shitload of branches that are fairly close to each other, and stands between a carport with a flat roof and a garage with an A-frame roof. I left the ladder on the roof of the truck so she could get all the way to the ground. Karuna got down from the now-cut-down eucalyptus tree that was at my old place in Berkeley without any help. She was also about 20 feet up, and that tree had hardly any branches below her and the only thing near it was a fence.
Nope. MAO was still there the next morning.
I tried the plank again. Same thing.
Eventually it dawned on me. Falling out of a tree is probably how she broke her leg. No wonder she won't climb down.
So I started calling around, trying to find someone with a boom lift. Eventually I found a tree service in Missoula with someone available to come out right away. It cost $800, but when you live on the outskirts of civilization, you have to expect that sort of thing. MAO was more than happy to be rescued by them.
I don't know if the local volunteer fire department still rescues cats from trees. I wasn't going to call them, or the utility company. Even if either of them did that sort of thing, with my luck as soon as they got here there would be an emergency somewhere else, and today I would still feel like it was my fault.
So now everyone stays inside at night. They aren't all that happy about it, but tough titty.