Friday, May 07, 2010

I hit a cat last night.

On the way home from work, about 9:30 p.m., in an unlit area, a cat darted into the road and under my car. I saw nothing but a flash of white out of the corner of my eye . . . I thought it might be a box. But I hit it hard, so I turned around and went back to make sure it wasn't animal. It was a cat, coiled into an impossible ball, her beautiful eyes open and staring at my car.

I thought she was dead, and honestly I'd feel better if she'd died. Years ago I hit a Doberman at 60 mph and was able to tell the owner that her dog died on impact and suffered not at all. But this poor cat . . . as I watched, she somehow struggled to her feet and staggered to the side of the road. A car approached her fast in the other lane, but I blinked my lights repeatedly and he slowed down.

The cat was near a driveway, so I pulled into it—and she immediately disappeared. Of course it was pitch black outside. There were three houses in the area. I went to all of them, trying without success to locate the cat's owner. In one house, a teenage boy said to me, "It was probably just a stray. Don't worry about it." I said, "I'm very worried about it, because I hit that cat hard and I'm afraid she's in terrible pain right now." He looked at me like I was nuts, and went back to his TV.

I don't blame myself for what happened, but I feel awful about it. I don't know why cats run out in front of (or under) cars like that. Maybe fear has something to do with it. Maybe this cat's worst fear came true.

19 comments:

Mali said...

Oh I'm really really sorry. I'm still haunted by being in a car that hit a dog about 27 years ago.

mm said...

I'm sorry Susan. It's a sickening feeling to hit an animal.

A few years ago I hit a dog. Like you, it wasn't my fault, but I hit it very, very hard. When I stopped the car, it managed to jump up and dart off home. It turned out to be fine. I hope your cat was somehow just stunned.

Susan said...

Thanks, Mali. These things haunt us, don't they? It was about that long ago that I hit the Doberman. I was on my way to the dentist. I remember I sat in his chair and cried, and he sent me home.

MM, that's encouraging. When I read your comment I remembered seeing photos that show cats' extreme flexibility. Maybe that helped. Hope so.

Bridgett said...

I hit a dog, back in high school. But it ran off and I couldn't find it even to see if it had a collar. And then sweet Dara, our old dog, was hit by a car when she was 1, only weeks after we brought her home. She was winded, and the fur on that side seemed almost burned, but she was fine (and she was terrified of roads after that and never ran off again). But Dara was an 80 pound rott...

I was in a van once that hit and paralyzed a deer. And my father-in-law was called and he came and shot it by the side of the road. I was nauseated and impressed for a long time. I'm still impressed. And I drive with my brights on down in the country...

Dona said...

I'm so sorry Susan. I hit a squirrel once -- but no domestic animals as far as I know. I was upset enough about the squirrel, I'm not sure how I'd deal with a cat.

It wasn't your fault. Animals do impulsive things. Try to let it go.

crystal said...

I'm sorry, Susan. That happened to me once too, back when I still drove. It was at night and I felt the thump as I hit the cat. I stopped but it ran away into the night. At least you made an effort to find its owner, which I didn't. That stuff does haunt us, but you did all you could to help.

Helen said...

That's so sad. But I am so glad there are people like you who care. And so dismayed that there are people like that teenager who don't.

Indigo Bunting said...

I live in fear of hitting animals and really try to avoid driving at night (which isn't always possible, of course). Roadkill breaks my heart. When I've hit something (squirrel, chipmunk, mystery animal), I'm just haunted. I'm so sorry.

Susan said...

Thanks, everyone. Roadkill breaks my heart. I've often thought the same thing. It's just heartbreaking to see. Have you read Gerald Stern's roadkill poem?

Unfortunately, my drive home from work is in the dark all year round because it's so late. (I leave work at 9:00 p.m.) A lot of it is in unlit areas.

Bridgett, I paralyzed a deer once, too. No father-in-law, but I called the police and asked them to come and shoot it. Apparently it was low on their priority scale that night.....

Anonymous said...

That sucks. On the 3rd someone hit our cat out in front of the church, I found her walking home from work. I can only hope whoever was driving the vehicle was as considerate as you. It would have been something of a relief to hear what happened as it happened from someone who cared. Thank you for not being a horrible human being.

Susan said...

I'm so sorry. I hope it was quick for your cat; for us, these things last a long time. I don't know how long, because I haven't had one reach an end point yet.

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