June 13, 2011

Life on the street (Or, Death on the sidewalk)

Previously I wrote about feral cats in my neighbourhood. My 84-year-old neighbour, Elsie, ended up feeding and sheltering the feral mom, new kitten and one other cat on her front porch. I asked if she knew the gender of the second adult feral. She told me that it was a male and that he was "quite well hung." I kid you not. She was happy to accept the info I offered on a free trap/neuter/release service offered by our local humane society. With her cooperation, I made an appointment for her son to bring in whichever cats they could catch. I am pleased to report that both the mother cat and the kitten were fixed. The humane society kept the kitten in order to arrange for its adoption, but mama cat was returned to her makeshift home on Elsie's porch. The male cat evaded capture and remained at large (and by large apparently I mean large).

Sadly, early one morning last week I found the male cat dead on the sidewalk, possibly having been hit by a car. The city's animal services department had not yet opened for the day, so I donned rubber gloves and carried the box from my new microwave, an old towel and a couple of plastic bags over to the scene of the cat's demise. Normally I don't touch roadkill, I swear, but I didn't want any of the neighbourhood kids to have to see (or step over) the cat on their way to the school up the street. I crouched down and steeled myself to pick up the body, thinking that I would slide my gloved, bagged hands beneath it and gently scoop it into the towel-lined box. The thought of accidentally cradling the corpse against my torso made me change my mind. With a quick glance around to make sure no one was watching, I picked the cat up by the tail and dropped it into the box without looking at it too closely.

[Here I would insert that popular photo of a large sign reading "Free cat" indicating a dead cat on the road, but some might find it distasteful so I am merely including this link to the picture.]

I carried the box back to my yard. There I stood, wearing rubber gloves and holding a box of dead cat, wondering what to do next. It was early in the morning but already the sun was beating down and the humidity was creeping up. I tried to stuff the box under the little bench in my front yard but it would not fit. There was nothing to do but to leave it in the sunshine, which is normally where cats like to lie anyway.

I called the animal services department as soon as it opened at eight o'clock. A woman assured me that a crew would pick up the cat-in-the-box whenever they next happened to be in the area. I spent the rest of the day periodically peeking out my front window at the box. By ten o'clock I was wondering how it smelled out there. By noon I was growing impatient. I felt bad for my letter carrier and hoped that curiosity wouldn't get the better of him. By mid-afternoon I was pretty sure that I could see cartoon stink waves rising from the box. I decided that I wasn't going to open the front door for any reason less urgent than the house catching fire. I busied myself doing everything I could to avoid setting the house on fire while continually checking to see if the damn box was still there. It was. It was. It was. And then, finally, at five o'clock, it wasn't. Hallelujah. Either the folks from animal services had come by or there was a thief out there who was going to be mighty disappointed when he got home and discovered that what he had stolen from my yard was not, in fact, a microwave oven.

That reminds me of another cat-and-cardboard-box-related story. My brother once dumped his cats' dirty litter into the box from his new BBQ. As cat owners know, used litter is quite heavy. Wouldn't you know it, some misguided loser stole the weighty box from in front of my brother's house. This happened years ago but thinking about it still makes me smile.

Good times.


Rob K said...

It was a tough job, but you did the right thing, Jen. And I love that stolen kitty litter story.

amelia said...

Poor kitty!
We kept our last cat in our freezer for six months while waiting for the ground to thaw so we could bury her!

ryssee said...

Gruesome! Poor kitty and poor you.
Would have been something though if someone thought they got a free microwave though. That and picking up the poor dead beast by the table had me rolling!

ryssee said...

Every time I see the title of this post, it makes me laugh.