After a while, Patches just sort of moved in along with one or two other local kitties who liked us enough to get close. Since he was almost always indoors now, he cleaned himself up and the regular feedings, clean water and comfortable environment eased up much of his lung problem. His breathing, while still louder than the other cats, was much better. We was at ease.
From time to time in the last few months he'd sneak out and be gone a night or even two, coming back looking like the Patches of old. Spots of soil or whatnot in places on his coat. He'd spend a few days cleaning and be good as new. The winter saw him spending less time escaping and more time indoors, but with the warmer weather he snuck back outside a few more times.
Two weeks ago he got out for a couple of days and when he came back he was noticeably less energetic. He laid around a lot, and in the last few days, I noticed his walk was slow and his legs shaky. He moved very little.
Yesterday afternoon while I slept, he crept past the couch to the table where he liked to hide and sleep, and laying down half under the table and half on the carpet, he left us. It had only been just a couple of weeks since he'd been in my bedroom, standing on a box, craning his head out the window and calling to be let out. He was gone so quickly.
We don't know how old he was or where he lived his life prior to joining our house last year. He was a small, kind vagabond who joined us for the last year of his life. His sweet face and patient friendship will be little kitty paw shaped holes in my heart.
We love you, sweet boy.