I feel five years old

September 16, 2008 at 10:04 pm (anxiety, cats, unhealthy obessions)

Yesterday I was walking home when I saw a cat lying in the road. I told him to get out, that he was going to be ran over. But he didn’t budge. When I walked closer to him, he looked sick, worse than sick, he was dying. I’m not very level-headed in situations like this so I scooped him up and put him in the shade on the sidewalk. He could barely stand for two seconds before collapsing into a furry heap, his small eyes half closed. He was brown and stripey, small like a kitten, but obviously older. I could feel his bones through his sagging skin.

Walking up the stoop to the nearest house, I hoped that he belonged to somebody, that someone could help him. A woman answered the door.

“Do you have a cat?”

“Yes,” she said, looking panicked. We walked down to the sidewalk together. He didn’t belong to her. Her cat was black and big. Her young daughter came outside.

“Honey, thats a kitty,” she said. “He’s very sick.”

She said she’d check on him and if he still hadn’t moved, she’d call animal control. She went back inside the house

I walked back to my house. I was there two minutes before I asked Jacob to come with me to bring the cat some food and water. Perhaps he was just dehydrated and hungry.

We returned to the cat. He had crawled several inches from where I’d left him. I set the food and water down and he looked up quickly and stumbled towards them, but he didn’t drink or eat, he slumped down again. I moistened the food with some water and fed it to him by hand. When he ate, his jaw made an awful grinding noise like he was a broken mechanical toy.

“Don’t feed him like that,” said Jacob. “He could be sick. You could pass it on to our cats at home.”

But he was eating. I kept feeding him moistened bits of cat food, getting my hopes up that he could be saved. He drank a bit of water and then started to dry heave. He stumbled, his small legs crossing one over the other drunkenly. He fell down again and rolled onto his side, his breathing shallow. His small golden eyes were only half open.

“What do we do?” I said.

“I don’t know,” Jacob replied. “We can’t afford a hospital.”

“Its too late for a hospital,” I said shaking my head, hating myself for the tears running down my nose and crashing onto the pavement. “What do you do with a dying cat?”

I asked for his phone so I could could call my mom. She answered and I sobbed into the receiver.

“He’s sick and dying and I don’t know what to do.”

“Who dying?” my mom asked, panicking.

“A cat.”

“Your cat?”

“A cat I found on the street.”

I heard my mother sigh. “Nathalie,” she said. “There’s nothing you can do. Cats die. Cats go outside to die too. Call animal control. Don’t touch it. It might have diseases.”

It felt like a conversation I should have had when I was five.  I had pets that died, but peacefully in bed, or under deep sedation in a clean, white vet’s office. Never like this, out in the open, on hot pavement. It felt unnatural, and terrible.

I said I’d call her later and hung up the phone. I stroked his furry body and tried to feed him. But he wouldn’t eat. It dawned on me that even if I sat here all night monitoring him, it wouldn’t make a difference. This cat was going to die, and I couldn’t change that. I felt horrible.

After a while, I let Jacob walk me back up the street. The cat stayed there. We went to a friends house and watched a movie.

On the way home, I hoped Jacob would go a different way, so I wouldn’t be tempted to look for him. But we drove by the house where I’d left him to die. It was dark. All I could see were shadows.

“I didn’t see him there,” Jacob said. “Maybe he got better.”

He rubbed my knee and smiled. I smiled back, but I was old enough to know better now.

5 Comments

  1. twwirly said,

    oh my god! that broke my heart. i would have cried over the cat, too. i’m so glad you brought him some food and water – that was really sweet.

  2. subeeds said,

    Your story broke my heart, too. Take a bit of comfort from the fact that you made a difference in his life at the end. He didn’t die hungry or thirsty-thanks to you. Sometimes in this life, there’s only so much you can do. You cared about him-that counts for a lot.

  3. meagank said,

    I love you. That is all.

  4. Erin said,

    awww this is so sad. i’m not really a big feline fan (as you know…except for Petra and Mina of course) but this was tragic. did this happen by your bus stop? if so, was he/she there this morning? 😦

  5. Kiala said,

    Well, now I’m crying into my bran muffin. My bran muffin is all soggy and salty now.

    THANK YOU SO MUCH NATHALIE.

    *Hugs you*

    *Hiccups*

    *Sobs*

    *Hugs you again*

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