Why would a feral cat go missing? (Getty Images)
DEAR JOAN: Two years ago, I discovered an older female feral cat sleeping in the leaves of my small orchard backyard. She’d been badly injured but had recovered somewhat.
Over time, she became less afraid and I encouraged her into my inner backyard. She got used to my delivery of food and water in the mornings and evenings, even giving me a little meow when she saw me coming.
We had grown to be pretty good friends. She slept under a chaise lounge near my patio door, where I made a bed for her. She loved it there, putting her head out to greet me. Then, after a couple years, one morning she was gone without a trace.
There’s no evidence of anything happening to her. Given her age and past condition, do cats go away to die?
I must say, I miss her terribly.
— Joe, Redwood City
DEAR JOE: I’m a determined optimist and would like to believe your buddy found a permanent and loving home with some other kind person, who has convinced her to be an indoor cat and wander no more, however there are a lot of dangers to outdoor cats.
To answer your question, yes, cats nearing the end of their lives often hide themselves away. They may not know they’re dying, but they know they are in a weakened condition, unable to adequately defend themselves against predators.
Now that you’ve known the love of a good cat, maybe you should consider adopting one from your favorite cat rescue. There are hundreds out there waiting for you.
DEAR JOAN: Recently, I bought a new hummingbird feeder that I felt was easier to clean. Apparently, the birds found the new feeder unappealing, and I haven’t seen them now for weeks.
I then bought another feeder that is similar to the original. The first replacement feeder had pink flowers instead of red. Do you think that made a difference? Do you think I will ever get the family of hummers back that I have been feeding for years?
— Ron Fong, Castro Valley
DEAR RON: Hummingbird experts say there are five reasons hummingbirds stop visiting backyard feeders – six, if you count migration — including territorial disputes, females who are busy with nesting duties, the lure of nature’s blooms, more of an interest in protein rather than nectar, and unclean feeders.
The explanation in your case could be a combination of reasons. The pink on the first new feeder wasn’t bright enough to garner their attention and by the time you found a new version, the birds had already moved on, perhaps to flowers or to feeders elsewhere.
You can attract them back. Plant pots of blooming flowers and add some bright red decor throughout the yard. Once you get their attention, they’ll start visiting again.