Buttons the cat is gone. Again. She left for her annual through-hike on the Ozark Trail. She goes this time every year. She never lets us know she's leaving, but one day, I'm milking in the barn and the familiar presence is gone. No one jumps in my lap while I'm sitting on the milking stool and kneads my bare legs. After a few days, I realize she's left. I miss her.
This is the third year Buttons has left around this time. The last two years she returned some time in October or November. Seriously, I don't think she's far, but I do wonder why she disappears and steers clear of the farm for so long. And why is it always in September? Last year, I thought it was because we'd moved and she didn't like the new place. The year before, we thought she got into an old home where the owner left for several weeks. Every time we think she's gone for good and have just gotten used to the idea that she won't be back when she suddenly appears. I hope that's the case this time as well.
But I wonder where she goes and why she leaves. Is there something about fall that calls her into the woods, that makes her long to reconnect with the wild cat in her? Are we not feeding her enough to help her fatten up for the long winter outside? Does the sound of goats in heat drive her nuts like it does me sometimes? Do cats have spiritual lives that need tending? Does she go on a spirit quest every year? A silent retreat?