Straysmommy - this made me tear up too. I remember all too well what you went through when your little stray disappeared, I have not forgotten. This is my own fear with Arwen, my formerly very feral girl, who now loves and trusts me and my husband. She has been in my neighborhood also for 5-8 years (our best guess). She slept in my garage during the cold months, but now doesn't want to come inside. All she does is sleep in one of 3 places outside, and on occasion, she brings me a rat, but for the most part, she sleeps. I go over and over bringing her inside, but I have 4 inside cats, and I feel like the world would fall apart for my inside cats, and they would start having peeing issues. Beep, my oldest cat, as it is, cannot be out with the other three, so that is stressful, having to rotate everyones time out. But still, I wish I could bring her in. We just got word of a possible tropical storm that could become a catagory 1 hurricane....ugh, and I immediately thought of Arwen. Thinking I may have to put her in my spare room, that currently has my latest stray sleeping in it at night. I know that one day it could happen, that she will be gone, or something will get her, and it kills me too. Yet, I don't know what the solution is. I am not convinced she would want to even stay in my house, especially with the other three cats that could possibly be around her. Arwen is so non-confrontational, and Stephano, my 2 year old black male, he is a clown, who would want to play with her, and she does not like to play, so I jsut feel like it wouldn't work.
Still, I think of what you went through. I know this is how I would feel. If it happens, I too will feel like part of me is missing and has died. I think of you all the time when I ponder what to do about Arwen.