In my wanderings, I sometimes encounter things that I don’t necessarily want to see. The night of December 3rd was just one of these occasions; I was driving home when I passed a freshly killed cat on the roads right outside of my apartment.
I wrote out this post the night of the event, as things were fresher and thoughts/emotions needed to be digested. It was a true ‘therapy post’. I left publication until Saturday to give myself time to clarify my three central, philosophical ideas towards this occurrence.
First, I was incredibly sad to see this cat, deceased, in the cold darkness in the middle of the road. I got a shovel and pushed its (in life, beautiful) body off of the road to protect it from the indignity of being crushed by more cars. (Though I admit that my thought process went no further than that – the city offers no place to bury a creature). I have previously written about my encounters with death (my mouse, my squirrel), and I’m saddened to say that this winter has been an anomaly in my life for witnessing deceased animals. The morbid part of my brain wonders if it isn’t some kind of obscure, dark omen. The rational side of my brain says it’s just part-in-parcel with being an adult and venturing out into the world.
Second, this experience makes me think about the senseless deaths that happen across all species, every year. Nature has to take its course – obviously there’s a cycle of life and death in nature – but when a vibrant and living creature falls dead to no purpose I feel sadness eclipse my heart. Human vehicles are certainly a major source of roadkill (which I consider to be a fairly major category for a ‘senseless’ death).
Third, when I think about this cat I also think about the million of unloved and abandoned animals everywhere. Feral cats can easily overpopulate and cause problems (e.g. predation of birds) like any other population in excess of natural numbers. Many of these unwanted cats are hauled into humane societies (like my local K-W Humane Society*). Although I wish that all homeless cats lived romantic lives like Six Dinner Sid, their lot may be tougher than I am willing to consider here.
There are many respectful and uplifting ways to think about death; for example, those portrayed in Jan Thornhill’s book for children called I Found a Dead Bird. I choose to take one of these positive routes now. Instead of dwelling on that poor cat, I will try to think constructively about ways to help all animals and practical steps/actions that I can take to better the lives of individual creatures.
*Please consider donating to the Kitchener-Waterloo Humane Society and supporting all the wonderful work that they do!