Saturday, January 20, 2007

Dead Kitty

I originally wrote this as a comment on Jaquandor's blog, but decided to post it here as well.

This evening on our way home from a trip into town we ran over a cat. It dashed out in the road immediately in front of us. My husband hit the brakes and tried to avoid it. But then - BUMP - CRUNCH. No doubt about it. Kitty was toast. I felt sad, even though there really wasn’t much else we could do.

We were out on a quiet, rural road away from any residential area, so there’s no telling if it was somebody’s pet or just one of the many feral cats that abound in this area. Should it matter? Do I feel worse for the CAT that we actually killed or for the PERSON who may be missing it tonight? I admit, I can't help but wonder if it may have come from one of the distant farm houses where some child may be weeping over the loss of her beloved Fluffy. Or, even if it were a stray…it may have had babies holed up in some culvert, that are now left mewing and hungry this cold, dark night.

I can't quite shake the creepiness that the THUD of impact gave me. I find myself wondering …should we have stopped? We didn’t. We kept on driving home. What if it didn’t die right away? What if it suffered? I shudder to think on that too much.

I find myself curious about my own emotional response to the event. How long or how deeply does it make sense to mourn for a cat that jumped out into a country road at twilight? It would feel totally heartless to me to just shrug my shoulders and say “stupid cat!” Yet on the other hand…how much sorrow does the snuffing out of this feline life merit? What does feeling bad or not feeling bad mean? If I just forget about it does that make me a cold, heartless bitch? If I keep lingering over my sorrow and remorse am I being a sensitive, caring person or a fool?

The other thing I’ve noticed is that for all my genuine regret over the incident, my sadness if considerably less than if it had been a dog we’d hit instead. I like dogs better than cats. I think cats are ok, but I don’t have one nor do I want one. I would be heartsick had we hit a dog. I am just sorta sad we hit a cat. I’m neither comfortable nor uncomfortable with that distinction. I just notice it.


Marie said...

If the cat died instantly, I'd get over it pretty quickly, and I really like cats. Just like with people, it's those left behind (the hungry kittens in the culvert, the young widow) whom I sorrow for. And that would be the possibility that would haunt me -- not the death itself. I believe in Kitty Heaven, and just like People Heaven, I believe it's a big step up, even from the Trump Tower.

Sounds like you knocked kitty out instantly. If I had hit any animal and not been sure that it hadn't suffered, that would also haunt me. One of the most terrifying childhood nightmares I ever had was one in which I'd accidentally slit my beloved cat open, and I spent the rest of dream running around with her in my arms, screaming to the apathetic people around me that I couldn't stand to kill her and I needed them to help me put her out of her misery. It was awful. It makes me queasy just thinking about it.

Belladonna said...

Unfortunatety, that dream is too close to reality for me.... a very ugly experience of seeing a family pet hit by a car - the dog was left mangled and broken but neither I nor my mother could stand to kill it outright. I begged her to take the dog to the vet - she said no, it was too late, that the dog was too badly hurt. But the dog was still alive and took a while in dying. Those whipers as she lay dying will haunt me to my grave.

That probably has a lot to do with why hitting the cat bothered me so much -

On a brighter note...There was one time another dog of mine got hit by a car and was seriously hurt. The driver of the car immediately stopped, picked up the injured animal and RACED to the nearest vet to get the dog some help and then worried about tracking down the owner later. They saved Bojangles life. He was always a little bit addled after that, but stayed by my side for many more years. I'll always be grateful to them for taking responsibility and acting so quickly.

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