When a Colony Cat “Disappears”: The Unknown Story of Noche Nariz

These past few weeks there has been a few deaths from the colonies. Dice was euthanized. Betty was found dead in her backyard.


This can be difficult, but at least we know what happened to these cats.


One of the hardest things for a feral cat colony caregiver to deal with is the “unknown.” It really sucks when a cat “disappears.”


Of course, that is part of being a caregiver. Cats disappear sometimes, and all you can do is hope that perhaps the cat was scooped up and adopted indoors by another person (yeah, that sounds like a fantasy, but sometimes, the TNR’d, ear tipped cats show up later with a collar on), or, more likely, if they died, there was little unnecessary suffering involved.


It’s one of the reasons that I will never understand how people can let their pet cats in and out, especially in a heavy urban environment such as Chicago, where pretty much anything can happen. Once a cat leaves their property, they are fair game, legally and realistically. Cats can get poisoned, hit by cars, claimed without recourse by another person, tortured, or just wander off forever. Cats who are socialized to humans are especially susceptible to such danger. Feral cats are more savvy, as the adult ones outside are truly the fittest and strongest from their litters. They know the streets and know to be wary of danger. After all, they’ve made it this far. The outdoors are their true home and they know how to navigate it and survive.


Noche Nariz was a black and white cat with a distinctive black nose from the Jose and the Pussycats Colony, the same colony where Betty was from.


This colony is mostly made up of TNR’d black cats, so cats like him and Betty were very visible from the start.  photo (52)

Noche hung out on Maria’s steps ever since I TNR’d him in 2010, waiting for dinner. IMG_2436

I wouldn’t call him friendly, exactly, but he was acclimated to his territory at Maria’s house, and the three other houses next door where the rest of her family and neighbors live who also feed the cats. He did not flinch or move from his hangouts when you passed him on the sidewalk. Instead, he would pose beautifully.


During the winter, he was one of the few cats from the colony that actually used the outdoor cat shelters his feeders made for him in their backyard. IMG_3257

When I was talking to Maria and her family about Betty, I asked about Noche because I hadn’t seen him since the spring, after the polar vortex. Maria admitted to me she also hadn’t seen him, and had no idea what happened to him.


It kills me how many cats here seemed to make it past last year’s terrible winter, but then got sick, perished, or “disappeared,” by the time spring arrived.


There is a chance that perhaps Noche was scooped up and adopted by a neighbor that he may have bonded to. He had a tendency to hang out by people’s front doors, but so far I have no idea.  IMG_1094


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