A few days ago, a car in front of me knocked down a cat. It lay, kicking, on its back while the car drove off. I stopped, remembered my hazards and ran over thinking, please die now, die now.
The cat was bleeding from everywhere. I knew it was hopeless because of a pet first aid course I’d laughed my way through. We’d practised on a dog manikin called Casper – CPR, get it? Made jokes about his lack of gender and other childish stuff.
But I felt for a pulse in the cat’s femoral artery – nothing. Now I knew that the writhing and the kicking were nerves and adrenalin. But my eyes didn’t believe this.
I carried him to the pavement, cradled his warm ginger body and told him that, had he lived, he would have been a king among cats, a mouser like no other, Top Cat.
Running from house to house to find an owner, I wondered if I found one, would they think it was me, the cat killer? I might have to assure them that were it me, I would have been a blithering mess and incapable of coherent speech.
At the fifth house, a man with greying, almost shoulder length hair, answered the door. Yes, he had a ginger cat, a rescue cat about two years old.
Clamped under his arm was The Guardian and in the other hand, a half eaten baguette.
So I ran with Guardian man and when he cried on the cat’s body, I cradled him too. Then I gave him a towel from my car, a dirty dog towel. We had a short, polite tussle over my giving up a precious towel – the blood might not wash out. I no longer needed the towel, I said. I have a hundred, no, a thousand towels.
I didn’t take the number of the car that killed the cat and I never asked what the cat’s name was. A name would have made a hard thing harder. Perhaps it’s good that I don’t know who hit and then ran. It’s just a cat. No law says you have to stop. Unless you count decency and kindness of course. Maybe the driver was young and frightened. Or old and agitated? I don’t want to believe differently.