This is my cat named Koshka, Russian for cat. Two years ago when I first met her she was a couple minutes away from being called roadkill. It was one of those 100°F weekend days when I was off to get some milk and other groceries. After waiting for the light to change in an underpass I drove up and across the intersection.
There I saw a not infrequent sight, some animal, from the looks of it a small opossum or raccoon, in the middle of my lane. Just as I was about to drive over it, or should I say straddling it with my tires so as not to make a mess, this roadkill looked up directly at me and meowed.
OH MY GOD! IT’S A CAT!
I was so stunned I might have said this out loud as I looked in the rear view mirror to see the several cars I was leading through the intersection seem to be driving over the animal, probably not even seeing it. For a few moments I’m thinking about the moral calculus of what I’d seen. Perhaps I could go get my milk and come back the same way and see if there was anything to be done? And what was to be done?
I thought of a moment when I was a boy, hearing a high pitched sound, wondering what it was in our backyard. Going out I discovered our neighbor’s rat terriers had caught a baby bunny entangled in the fence trying to escape. The skin was flayed off it’s leg and it was screaming, making a noise I’d never heard rabbits make before or since. Our neighbor and terrier owner had come out by then and taken it tenderly in his hands where he explained to me he’d have to kill it in a moment since it was going to die anyway.
Thinking of all this in those few moments it was obvious I could not wait until I had my precious latte making milk, if I was to do anything at all. No animal should die like the one in the road.
I turned the van around at the earliest spot, drove past the animal now in the other lane, and did one more possibly illegal U-turn, stopped in the lane, blinkers flashing. I got out of the van with a plastic sack in my hand to keep things a little clean and picked up this bloodied beast. She was as limp as a rag, appeared to already be unconscious, and was panting furiously, a very reasonable thing I thought since the asphalt pavement she was laying on had to be well over 120°F on this blistering day.
I was no vet, and all I could go on was my EMT training from years ago. Cool her off as fast as I could I thought, since her hyperthermia was the most life threatening issue, then deal with the rest. So the van’s A/C went on high and all of it directed to the floor vents, where she was laid. As soon as I got home I put her into the shower/tub and turned the water on cool (not shockingly cold) and sprayed her with my handheld shower head.
Here’s a picture I sent as it was happening to my wife in Colorado at the moment. After 5 or ten minutes of this she stood up and staggering away from this cold injustice, a good sign I thought since obviously she hadn’t broken her neck. I gently dried her off, wondering if she’d loose her eye which was where most of the blood seemed to be coming from and put her into the dog cage I had with my rat terrier and min pin VERY interested in this small possible fun thing to chase.
She didn’t eat much the first couple days. I was being threatened with being laid off so I wasn’t going to spend money on a possibly feral unhappy cat and decided to let nature take it’s course before deciding where I went from there. In a few days she was alert but you couldn’t pull her fur away and look for a minute at her skin before you’d see parasites scampering around. Some flee and tick shampoo took care of all that and soon she was laying in my printer tray to be near me as I worked most evenings.
So now as I write this in the middle of the night (because my neck pain is keeping me awake again) she lays beside me purring her beautiful purr. I look at her out of kilter eye and I’m reminded that even when things are looking at there worst, even when it looks like there’s only moments left of life, things can suddenly change all around again, and you can end up loved, and fed good food daily, and lay on a nice comfortable couch purring away. Life is very interesting and curious isn’t it?