AS SHE LAY DYING
by Debra J. White
She was nobody’s cat. Tattered and worn from scratching out a living on the streets, she faced hunger, thirst and the blistering Southwest summer. Her fur was scruffy and matted. Home was behind a bush, underneath a car, or wherever she found safety. At one time, she belonged to someone. Maybe she played with yarn, had a favorite place to snuggle up, and enjoyed fishy treats. Who knows why or when the good times ended?
At the animal shelter where I volunteer, a woman showed up holding a mortally wounded cat. The Good Samaritan saw the old cat staggering in traffic after being rammed by a car. The driver sped away; the kind stranger scooped the cat up and brought her to us. Because the animal control trucks were unloading the day’s collection of stray dogs, receiving was locked. I took the barely breathing cat and held her in my arms. I blinked back tears and told the old girl I was sorry life had twisted into such a tragedy. I thanked the stranger for having a heart. Not everyone does.
I carried the cat inside. A worker readied an injection to end the cat’s pain. Within minutes, the cat was at peace. Why wasn’t I? Images of the bony, old cat lingered with me for hours. Maybe her owner’s cast her aside, but her life meant something to me. Before she died, I hugged her and sent her to the Rainbow Bridge with a shred of comfort. That cat was special, even if she was nobody’s cat.
Cat overpopulation is a staggering problem across the United States. To keep your cat from ending up as a statistic at an animal shelter, keep them indoors. Cats live longer and healthier lives if they are house pets. Fit them with ID tags or microchips so they can be returned should they become lost. Spay or neuter your feline. Altered male cats are less likely to roam or spray. Cats depend on you for a safe, cozy and contented life.
Debra White volunteers with Maricopa County Animal Care and Control, AzCats, Gabriel's Angels and sits on the board of Phoenix Animal Care Coalition.