The Cat Came Back?

by J.D. Roth

Warning: This entry may not be suitable for sensitive readers.

I was nearly to work this morning, was wending the s-curves between the Lone Elder Store and Martin’s Town and Country furniture, when a cat ran out in front of my car.

As always happens in situations like this, time slowed. From the right of my peripheral vision, I spotted a blur of motion. I turned my head slightly and slowed the car from around 35mph to I-don’t-know-what. The blur resolved itself into a long and slender cat — orange and white with subtle striping, beautiful — racing at top speed at an oblique angle to the road. Into the road. I smashed the brakes, but even then I knew it was too late.

I hit the cat.

My car scraped over the top of the cat and a small something flew across my windshield. The cat made no sound. There was no hump or thump. No yowl. The car simply scraped over the top of the cat. My stomach fell. I felt momentary panic.

There was no traffic approaching me, and there was not traffic behind me, so I slowed to look for a place to pull over. (If it were my cat, I’d want somebody to do the same.)

Suddenly I was startled to see, in my side-view mirror, the cat — seemingly whole, but who can tell? — continuing to race away at top speed, across the road, leaping a ditch, and then dashing into the alpaca pasture. Surely it didn’t survive?

I didn’t stop. How could I find the animal now? I drove on, my stomach sickened, hoping that the cat’s people find it soon and take it to the vet just down the road.

Be well, little cat. Be well.

I haven’t hit many animals before, but it does happen from time-to-time, especially out in the country.

The biggest thing I ever hit was a dog. I was fifteen and had my learner’s permit. Mom and I were driving to Oregon City along back roads at dusk on an autumn evening. We came over a rise at moderate speed and a black lab ran out in front of the car. I didn’t even break — there was not time to react. “Should I stop?” I asked. “I don’t know,” Mom said, but I didn’t. I drove on, shaking.

On the drive to Costco today, I saw a more pleasant animal sight. A blackbird, glossy blue-black in the sun, had picked up a plastic produce bag — presumably for nesting material — and was attempting to walk with it, but it kept tripping over the bulky load and dropping it. Very funny. That bird probably thought he had hit the jackpot!

Updated: 09 May 2006

Do what's right. Do your best. Accept the outcome.
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