Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Helping an Injured, Feral Cat

Yesterday morning I got an early start and was on my way to work. On Frazier Lake Road, just over the line into Santa Clara County, I saw the car in front of me hit a cat. Two feral cats, one black and one gray, were fighting on the side of the road and suddenly both darted in front of the car; it couldn’t stop and hit the gray one. The black one escaped injury. I saw both cats as the car hit them with its right front fender, then both cats dashing to the other side of the road, the black one running and the gray one dragging its paralyzed rear legs behind it as it propelled itself forward with its front feet. I knew at once that the collision had injured the gray cat’s spinal cord and probably broke its back. The black cat ran and squeezed through a fence and disappeared. It seemed to be uninjured.
I stopped my car and looked for the gray cat, thinking that maybe I could take it to a vet or animal shelter to be put down. I didn’t want to leave it to suffer. The driver of the car that hit them made a U turn and came back and we both looked for the gray cat. It wasn’t immediately visible in the tall weeds by the roadside, so he left. I kept looking and found the cat hiding in the grass. It was a pretty cat with a nice coat, but it hissed at me and tried to drag itself away. It had no where to go, and stopped at a fence alongside the road. I was hoping to pick the cat up and take it somewhere for medical attention. However, though I spoke to it kindly it kept hissing at me, its ears back and its pupils fully dilated. I knew I couldn’t try to pick it up. It would undoubtedly bite and scratch me, and though it didn’t appear to be rabid, I couldn’t take that chance.

I called Mrs. Chomper and asked her to call the Animal Shelter. However, since I was now in Santa Clara County, the San Benito County officials couldn’t act. I gave Mrs. Chomper the precise location of the cat, latitude and longitude, from my GPS system. She called the Santa Clara Animal Shelter and they said they would pick up the cat.

The poor cat couldn’t be saved, not with those injuries (it clearly had a broken back or injured spinal cord), but at least it wasn’t be left to starve or die a slow and miserable death. Poor thing. Sometimes the only thing you can do for an injured animal is to end its suffering.

After work I returned to the place where I had left the cat; I wanted to see if they had indeed picked him up or just left him to suffer. He was gone, however, and I could find no sign of him anywhere in the immediate vicinity. I presume that the Animal Shelter made good on its promise.

I wish I could have done more for that cat, but sometimes you have to acknowledge your limitations.

Both of my pet cats -- one a black, 15 year old cat and the other a five month old tabby kitten -- were both feral cats. My youngest son captured the black cat when it was but a kitten, and my wife bought the new kitten from a private cat rescue society. The kitten had been born under a dumpster four months before. She is a frisky delight, an endless source of comedic antics and purring affection. She is also busily shredding my couch into rags, but that's another story.

I can't save all cats but at least I saved those two (with the help of my family).

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