Saturday, May 23, 2015

an unhappy cat tale

This story is not for the squeamish, or for anyone who doesn't want to hear about sad, awful things. But it happened, and I want to recount it.

I was traveling yesterday for the Memorial Day weekend. It was a lovely day and I didn't need to get anywhere fast, so I was going the speed limit. At one point, I had two cars built up behind me, so I pulled over to the side and let them pass as they both obviously wanted to travel much faster than me. After I did that, about a mile or two or three (I really wasn't quite paying attention to that aspect), I saw the outline of an animal in the road, and I slowed down.

It was a cat, grey and stripy, and it was very reluctant to get out of the road on my side. Next to it, near the middle, but definitely on my side of the road, was another cat, lying down, still alive, but obviously hurt. It was also grey and stripy, very possibly a littermate of the unhurt one. It was also obvious that no amount of help was going to save the injured cat, but I was now worried about the other one. If it continued to try to stay with its buddy, in the road, it might also end up being hit. That, at least, was something I could do something about, if only a little thing.

I had to go past, as there wasn't anywhere safe to stop, and turn around in a mile or two, so it took me maybe three or four minutes to get back to the spot. A few cars passed me going the other way while I did this.

I was worried about how to move the cat. I didn't have anything very useful in the car like a board or anything, and I didn't want to get scratched or bitten in case it had a reaction to me. I did have gardening gloves, so I put those on after I found a spot to pull off to the side of the road. I could see the unhurt cat skulking in the vegetation off to the side. It obviously wanted to be near, but all the traffic was in the way.

The hurt cat in the road had been avoided by the other cars, for which I was thankful, because it wasn't additionally flattened. (I had flashed my lights to warn the oncoming cars there was something ahead.) There wasn't any blood. It looked intact, but it was definitely in worse condition and most likely already dead by the time I returned. I got it over to the side, off the road. (I was a little concerned other drivers going by would think I had hit the cat, which I had not, but there was nothing to do about that.) There was no way to tell where it might have come from, possibly the house nearest, but the house looked unoccupied for the moment, and really, it didn't look like anything could be done for the poor cat. Maybe it was a little bit of discourtesy on my part, to not follow through at that point, but I left then.

It seemed to me it was one of those two vehicles in front of me that had hit the cat. Of which I am angry and guilty. In thinking I was being courteous by letting them go past, I had allowed them to speed along. Sometimes there is nothing to be done -- cats and other animals do dart out. Later in the drive, a rabbit scurried across the road, and if it had been closer to me, there would have been nothing I could do. But

I at least didn't want the other cat in the road, and I'd made as sure of that as I could.

So, I'm left with the fact that one of those other drivers hit the cat, and didn't stop to do anything about it. (Triple damnation: they were speeding, they hit the cat possibly because of that factor, and then didn't stop to even check to see what they had wrought.) And then all the other drivers (more than 5, less than 10, I didn't count exactly), who also passed the two cats (although they may not have seen the second, uninjured one) and would surely have seen that the injured cat wasn't quite dead, and also didn't stop to do anything about it -- not even to pull the cat off the side of the road. (Perhaps a lesser thing, but it would have been less than five minutes out of their day, as it was mine, to take an action.)

In the circumstances of a wild animal, I can see why -- squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, etc., may be dangerous to approach, and I would not have done it either. I suppose I'm just disappointed in the whole thing, and in the people.

So, if you're driving this holiday weekend, please take a moment to slow down, and then another moment to think beyond your own small bubble. Thank you.

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