A pleasant sunny Thursday afternoon, 9th of May, 2002
The cat, when I first cast my eyes upon it, was a scuttling thing between the four wheels of the jeep. The moment dragged itself out, lasting longer than it should have, but it was inevitable that one of those tyres should collide with the feline, and when the vehicle didn’t stop, and the cat didn’t emerge from the other side, I feared the worst. Indeed, the animal lay flat in the middle of the road. From my distance, it was just an object on the tarmac, but a moving object, it has to be said.
Its legs still peddled fresh air as if nothing had happened, but the claws gripped nothing apart from exhaust fumes left behind by its metal murderer. The limbs jerked mechanically in their full range of movement. As we drew closer, I willed the creature to stand upright. I urged it to just take off in any direction.We stopped. It wasn’t going anywhere. I debated whether I should actually leave the car. Its spasmodic thrashing slowed. I got out and bent down beside it in the middle of the road. The pupils of its bulging eyes were almost as big as the irises. A bit of bright blood had leaked from its mouth. Other than this, there was no visible damage.
I understood that it could not scratch or bite me. I stroked the cat’s neck and spoke to it. It stopped struggling. I wanted to believe that I was responsible for that. I wanted to believe that my touch had laid it to rest peacefully. I lifted its limp body from the road, careful not to let any blood drip onto me, and placed it on the grass verge. As I got into the car, its front paw slowly lifted and dropped, like a wave goodbye.
On the scale of bad ‘Dying Cat’ experiences, this only rates in at a 4 or 5. I had one about 4 years later that was ten times worse and genuinely disturbing to the core. I rescued the injured creature (I don’t believe I was the first to run it over) from a dual-carriageway and took it to safety in a shop doorway, but the thing ran back out into the road and got hit again. And again, and again. It’s head was like a dripping red tap. It was doing circles in the road. Someone else picked it up in a bin liner from their boot and returned it to the pavement (a small crowd had gathered), where it finally settled, but it kept jerking its head all over the place as if it were being attacked by a swarm of invisible flies, going mad. Truly demented and spooky. When I left, it was wandering back out into the road again.