I set out a few hours ago for my usual late-night walk and ended up killing a cat.
I guess it was meant to happen. I came to a corner of the street. I considered going east. Instead I walked south into a bad situation.
At the side of 15th Avenue lay what I thought was a dead cat. It was young and yellow, probably female and feral. As I approached, it raised its head and hissed. I reached to stroke its fur but it squirmed away from me with its upper body. The hind legs were paralyzed. Otherwise the cat looked normal. It had been hit by a car but there was no blood, no obvious broken bones.
I walked back to the house to get a box and to tell Nebra. She drove us back to the spot where the cat lay. It looked dead, flattened out on the pavement by the alley. Nebra picked it up by the scruff of the neck and placed it in a box. It didn’t resist or complain. We took it to the house. I offered it some milk, held the saucer in front of its nose. The cat wasn’t interested. It just stared at me as if trying to understand what I was all about.
Soon we were on the road, cat in the box, headed for the Emergency Animal Clinic on West Glendale.
I explained the situation to the receptionist. Feral cat, found along the street, partly paralyzed. We were told to take a seat. Someone would come out to see us soon. The cat stared at me. I stroked its head with the back of my fingers. No hissing this time. But its breathing came very fast, traumatized no doubt and in pain.
A young woman, a veterinarian I assumed, came out, took the cat out of the box and left. She didn’t say a word. I walked to the window and told the receptionist I would take financial responsiblity. She’d mentioned $95 for an X-ray or exam. Nebra and I were prepared to nurse it back to health if possible, to take care of it even if it had permanent damage to its spine. Pat, up the street, fed a cat for years that dragged its immobile hind legs around as if it were normal. Another neighbor woman, Joan, cared for a three-legged cat she called Tripod. I think those crippled cats often make the best pets. Then came the blunt news as I tried for the third time to explain our willingness to pay.
“It’s already been euthanized,” the receptionist said. A middle-age man behind her nodded his head in agreement. No one even examined the cat. It was simply taken into a back room and killed. I felt sick to my stomach. Maybe it was for the best. We’ll never know now, though.
“It was probably abandoned,” the receptionist said, starting to get testy. “It happens all the time. We’ve probably had 14 cats today come in here just like that.” All were euthanized. But you wonder why a place like this is so quick to kill. Here, with us, they could’ve made a little money tonight even if they ended up euthanizing the cat later.
For the pretty yellow cat, it was just an unlucky night all the way round. First the car that hit it and did not stop, then the uncaring clinic and the vet with the hair-trigger syringe. And the bad timing. If the cat had been hit tomorrow and I’d found it on a work day, not on a Memorial Day night,I would’ve taken it to my regular vet up the street and told her, fix this cat if you can. At least it might’ve had a chance.
As it is I feel like a murderer. Surely someone more competent, more savvy in the ways of the world could’ve gotten better results for the cat.
On the drive home, angry and frustrated, I shouted at the wind, “What kind of a country do we live in?” Almost everyone knows there’s something terribly wrong with America, and it just isn’t the economy or illegal immigration or crime or big government. I do not know the answer. But I do think the death of the yellow cat is symptomatic of whatever it is.