Saturday, April 25, 2009

Dead Cats Lying in the Street

There was a dead cat lying in the gutter in front of our apartment building yesterday morning. I think I may have heard the “thunk” of when it was hit by a car the night before. I probably shouldn’t have let it lay there until this morning but I just went down and scooped it into a garbage bag and took it to the dumpster which will be emptied later today.

God, I hate it when that happens to critters. What I’m a bit surprised about is that it doesn’t happen very often on our block even though there’s a bunch of feral cats wandering around. This one was the object of curiosity of a lot of the junior high and elementary kids who walk up the street each morning and afternoon on their way to and from school.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had to do that—although it’s the first time it wasn’t “my”cat. The first time was at a busy intersection right next to our house and became part of the subject of testimony I had to give to a transportation commission hearing in Iowa about road and traffic safety improvements in our city. That cat, Missy, was flattened to the extent that I had to scrape it up with a snow shovel. I told the commissioners about it in lurid detail remarking that it could have just as easily been a kid. One of the commissioners even remembered it 2 years later at another hearing when he looked at me getting up to testify on another matter and said, “You’re the guy with the cat.”

The second time was when the kids were little and a neighbor informed me that he had seen one of our cats—we had 2 at the time and a dog too—run over and lying in the gutter. The cat spent a lot of time outdoors in this Wisconsin neighborhood and it wasn’t too unusual for him to be gone for a couple of days. I “affectionately” called this cat “Shitter” for the time when he climbed in the open door of our clothes dryer and, well let’s just say that’s what he did on a load of clean clothes which were then dried baking the “material” into the clothes. I had to go a few blocks away to dispose of the cat because we didn’t want the kids to find out that he had been run over and disposed of. Susan still wailed when she found out though.

The third time was Petey—probably my all time favorite cat. Petey was the Lord of the Household. He was a huge, Maine Woods Coontail. Whenever I would grill fish outdoors I would have to wear jeans because he’d be trying to claw his way up my leg to get at it. This damn cat would beg until I gave him a bite of the salmon then he would go around the corner of the house where I could hear him barfing up the rich fish. Then he’d come back around and start begging all over again. (Although it can be argued that cats—especially that one—don’t “beg”. They demand. They insist. But they would never condescend to beg).

Petey used to think he owned the street in front of our house. In the afternoon, he’d go out to the middle of the street and lie right on top of the yellow line sunning himself. Snoozing in the hot Iowa sun. Occasionally flicking his tail. I can recall seeing cars stop and honk at him so that he’s condescend to get up and move out of the way. That was until one day when I got a call at work from Susan who by then was about 12. She was almost hysterical and I was able to pry out of her why she was upset. It seems as though a pick-up truck came barreling up the street and intentionally went out of its way to swerve and make sure to run over Petey. So, once again, I had to go home and scrape a cat up. This time into a box which I took into a little wooded area across the street and buried.

I never got any cats after that. Cats own you, you don’t own them. Petey had adopted me for some reason and liked to hang out with me. And I guess that’s good.

But geez, I hate having to go out and scrape cats off the street and somehow dispose of them. It’s gross. It’s sad because the cat wasn’t bothering anyone. And it’s senseless. But at least the junior high girls won’t squeal this afternoon and the boys won’t tease them about it and be grossed out themselves.

Dead cats lying in the street. I don’t know what it means exactly. I suppose I could attribute any number of different allegorical messages. Let’s just say it’s another “omega” in the never-ending “alpha and omega” of life. And we know there’ll be another “alpha”.

1 comment: