We cats have had quite a shock.
Yesterday Pat and Henry were gone for a long time in the late afternoon.
When they came home they kissed and hugged each of us. But they didn't tell us where they had gone or why.
This morning we patiently waited for them to get dressed and come downstairs.
Then we ran to the door, expecting to go out as usual.
To our amazement, Pat started crying and announced that we are not going outside EVER AGAIN and that from now on we must be content to play in the pen.
When we demanded an explanation, Pat told us that Tootsie has left us and will not return.
That can't be true, we replied. We realized Tootsie didn't come back inside yesterday morning when all the rest of us did. But it's not the first time Toots has gone off on her own.
Despite being loving and affectionate not only to Pat and Henry but also to every other cat in the clowder, Tootsie has always been the most independent and daring of us all.
Back in 2011, Toots disappeared for several days and nights in a row.
Pat assumed then that Tootsie was gone for good.
In fact, Pat posted an entry -- "Our Tootsie is Missing" -- that concluded, "Dear, sweet, brave, beautiful, far-too-adventurous girl . . . we hope you have suffered no pain. We hope that somewhere you are happy."
But in 2011, the Toots came home.
Pat thought that Tootsie had mellowed in recent years, and that in the hour or two we were allowed out most mornings to race around the yard and climb trees (Tootsie was really, really good at climbing trees), she stayed safely in our back yard.
But Pat was wrong.
And now, when all of us insist that Tootsie is certain to reappear sooner or later at the back door, Pat says this time is different.
When we ask Pat to explain, she says Tootsie had an accident, and then she starts crying all over again.
When she is able to stop crying she will post more pictures in memory of Tootsie.