To Be a Better Person
Tuesday, July 21, 2020
I was mowing the front lawn yesterday evening when my next door neighbor George, approached me. He and his wife Lillia were driving down the alley when they noticed something off to the side that resembled a pile of rags. A closer look revealed a heavily matted, injured or dying cat. He was still alive as George saw his chest moving ever so slightly. Knowing I had cats (and also fed some of the feral cats in our neighborhood) he asked me to come see it.
Of course, I knew that if I saw an injured or dying animal, I could not leave him there unattended, especially in the middle of the alley where a car could run over it. I followed him and bent down near the cat and it was still alive, but just barely. His head was curled under and his legs and paws were not readily visible. I lightly touched his head and he began to cry. I spoke to him softly to calm and maybe soothe him. George suggested that I put on some gloves and went into his house to retrieve them. I went into my house to find a box and an old towel which which to wrap poor kitty. Wearing the blue surgical gloves George gave me, I lifted him carefully wrapped in a small blanket so that I caused him as little pain as possible, but he still cried. After he was placed in the box, I noticed that he was somewhat cramped so I tore out the one side to allow him additional room.
Knowing the cat would now be cared for, George wished me a good night. I left kitty on the back steps and locked up my house, grabbed my purse and began another journey to the Emergency Pet Hospital on Clybourn. Driving slowly to minimize the jarring of the many potholes, I checked frequently to confirm that he was still breathing. After a while, I was driving with only my left hand while I lightly petted his head with my right hand. He mewed less frequently and I worried that he would die before I reached the hospital.
It seems like hours but it was closer to a half hour when we arrived at MedVet. I knew this place. I had been here before with another lost cause. I wanted to believe he could be saved but in my heart I knew someone had thrown him away because he was unwanted and too sick.
Five minutes after arriving, a vet came out and announced, “This cat has been sick for a long time!” She appeared angry at me for wasting her time on an animal that was obviously dying.
I was sent into another room where the vet tech asked if I was willing to take financial responsibility for the stray. I told her I could pay for the initial exam costs of $130 and she entered my information on a form and left.
A few minutes later a more sympathetic vet tech came in to tell me what I already know. This kitty was in very bad shape, had been ill for a while and now was dying. They would do nothing for it but euthanize it. I teared up (as usual) and she said that kitty was struggling to breathe, his heart was racing, and he was ready to let go. So, I let him go and she handed me a box of kleenex, telling me I could stay as long as I needed (to compose myself). I handed her back the tissues, thanked her and mumbled that it was a long ride home and left.
I expected to feel better last night as I had finally cut the grass – front and back – and my neighbors would be happy that the front and back yards did not look so unruly anymore. But I was just sad. My kittys saw that I was still upset and crowded around me – one in my lap, one next to me and one on the back of the couch.
I was trying to rationalize why this happened. Perhaps an elderly person who was sick themselves and unable to care for their pet, had passed or been moved to a nursing home and whomever cleaned out their home got rid of this poor kitty like a piece of trash. He was obviously dumped in our alley so they would not have to deal with a sick kitty. Maybe they had promised they would take care of kitty and not euthanize him so instead they dumped him.
I often wonder why people do the things they do. I wonder why we all aren’t kinder to each other and the other animals on this blue planet. Are we all going through a phase or have we all become so selfish and introverted that we care only for ourselves and our own comfort? When does this cruelty end – because it is cruelty. When do we stop interrupting each other and truly listen to what the other has to say? When do we stop judging and start understanding? I don’t know because I certainly judged the person who left kitty in the alley. Does the change start with me? What must I do to become a better person?