Work. Lunch time. On my way to pick up a few things I noticed a white cat milling around in the parking lot; he had no collar. Half affectionate and half timid. I went inside and while I waited at the counter, the cat came over to the glass doors and sat just outside.
I got a look at a decrepit right eye socket and its tattered hair exposed a discolored portion of skin from the face down to the right collar bone. At the lower neck, a clump of white fur and dried organic material daringly hung like a wretched badge of the animal’s will to survive. The eye disturbed me as a series of morbid colors leaked from a laceration across its face, I assumed the culprit of the wound claimed the missing eye.
The most vivid thing was not the stale wounds etched across the pale creature’s visage, but the sparks of life it desperately poured out through its one good eye. I’m not sure why, but I had a sudden flash to a desperate human victim, lying on their back, gasping for air, as they harbored some gruesome injury. I had always assumed if I was ever in such a situation the greatest source of trauma would come from the person’s wounds, but now I believe it might come from the desperate and panicked look upon their face. Someone once said “the eyes are the windows to the soul,” so maybe one could be terribly scarred by having to watch it suffer through them.
I compulsively borrowed a pair of gloves from my friend Jim who worked at the place and went outside. I called the cat over and after a moment of maneuvering and calm voice, the cat came to me. I picked him up told him everything would “be OK” and put him in my car. He didn’t smell any better than he looked.
I dropped him off at the SPCA and after being unable to answer any intelligent questions in regard to his origins, I left him in the charge of the shelter.
I had a feeling that he’d be put down. Stray cat, thin, dirty, injured and who knows what else. Not to mention the expense of nursing it back to health… and who would want to adopt a freaky looking cat with one eye anyways… (half way back to the office I had myself talked into the idea).
The eye looked infected and after fall comes winter. I could imagine an alternative fate for the creature. Crying in some random, cold, dark corner of Norwich, unfed, sick with infection and probably out of its mind with delirium. I didn’t ask and they didn’t tell, but I silently hoped he’d recover.
Next day, 9 a.m. Phone rings and I answer. Woman’s voice. “Uh… Hi, is this Tyler Murphy? Yesterday I think you picked up my cat and brought him to the SPCA. I just wanted you to know that shortly after you dropped him off… he was euthanized.”
A nearby neighbor inquired to Jim about her cat and he had explained my ironic humanity. She told me she had tried repeatedly to contact the shelter, but by the time she had it was too late. The SPCA, who knows far more about animal biology than I, decided the animal was suffering greatly or dying and met the criteria for immediate termination. He was put to sleep in order to ease his burdens.
The woman, Barbara, said her cat’s name was Mowmow and that he had cancer. According to her, he was on the road to recovery and had been to the veterinarian not too long ago. He was an indoor cat, she said, who had escaped outside. I explained the cat looked to be in poor condition, but that’s all I can honestly describe because like I said, I know nothing of animal biology, only human compassion… and guilt.