Generally I just see these critters from a distance, but yesterday, one rather ragged-eared cat was sitting by the door as I passed through, and was looking friendly. I'd seen this cat with other people, and realized it was a generally human-compatible beast. I'm a sucker for cats, so I reached down to scritch its back.
The poor feline was so incredibly emaciated that every vertebrae stood out in sharp relief to the touch. Skin and bones only begins to describe what its fur obscured. A cat skeleton with a fur coat, almost. I felt terrible for it. I am a soft touch when it comes to cats, and I just want to take it in and start feeding it, but I know I can't. I already have my own pair of cats at home, and I fear this stray may suffer from much more than just hunger, and probably isn't long for this world.
It looks like I'm not the only one who feels sorry for these cats, though, as someone had left out some food by the door. And though I know that feeding strays tends to just attract more strays, I feel a bit better having seen that.
Still, my heart breaks for these kitties.