The Cat

Melanie Typaldos
Texas, USA

The Cat

I was on my way to work. The sky was clear and traffic was light. I have a tendency to look around as I drive, always admiring the scenery even if I’ve driven by a thousand times before. This day was no different from normal except maybe that it was prettier than most.

Unexpectedly, I felt my car run over something in the road. I hadn’t seen anything. I looked in my rear view mirror and was horrified to see a cat rolling in the road behind me. I’d clearly run over it. I stopped my car as quickly as possible and ran back to the cat, but it was dead. A little gray kitten about half grown and I’d killed it. I stood there in disbelief while a sense of grief overcame me. I’d never run over an animal before. I knew that I couldn’t just leave the cat there. Seeing its body every day as I drove to work would have haunted me. I picked it up and took it back to the car. I placed the cat in the trunk and stood behind the car.

I couldn’t just drive away. I found myself crying uncontrollably. Okay, so it was just a cat but I hadn’t even seen it at all before I hit it. I kept thinking that it could have been anything. I could have hit another car or a pedestrian. How could I be so blind as to run over a cat on a clear stretch of road in bright daylight without even having seen it?

In a little while a car stopped in front of mine. A man in a suit got out and walked over to me. I’m sure I must have looked horrible and I felt stupid for crying. I wiped my tears as he approached.

“Are you alright?” he asked. I nodded, although I didn’t feel alright. I ran over a cat, I managed to say. He didn’t laugh at me. He looked around, obviously for the cat. I put it in the trunk, I said. I couldn’t just leave it there. That started me crying again. “Do you want me to take it for you?” he asked gently. I shook my head no. I’m okay. “You sure?” I nodded. And I did start to feel better. He helped me into my car and we both drove off. Later I realized that it was my neighbor’s cat that I’d run over. It had been sleeping in the engine compartment.

That whole day I thought about the cat and the man. I couldn’t believe his offer. I couldn’t imagine anyone willing to do that for a stranger, especially when I felt so foolish about the whole thing. People run over cats all the time and don’t seem bothered by it. This man sympathized with me no matter what his own thoughts on the matter.

Originally published as HeroicStories #45 on Aug 14, 1999

2 thoughts on “The Cat”

  1. I had a similar experience that affected me much the same. I was driving down a highway at the speed limit – about 70 – when I saw ahead what looked like a burlap bag flapping in the wind directly ahead in the middle of the road. As I ran over it, I saw it was a large brown dog who had been hit before. His back was broken, so he was trying to get up, but his lower half wouldn’t work. He raised up just as I went over him, so my car was the final death blow. I had never knowingly killed an animal on the road before. I was devastated and cried so hard for many, many miles. I prayed to God to never allow me to ever hit another animal. I knew in my heart it was a favor to put this poor dog out of its misery, but it still affected me so very deeply. Even as I write this, I feel it all again. At least I know I’m not alone with this reation!

  2. I am still haunted by the memory of running over a Mama cat years ago. I tried to dodge her as she ran across the road in front of me, but we both “zigged” in the same direction. It was in front of the house that the cat’s owner lived in, and she came out as I stood there looking down. She picked the cat up and I began apologizing. There were young kittens, she said. I did not know what I could do, and she did not suggest anything. She did not seem to blame me, and just walked away with the dead cat. But I was devastated. I love cats, and later on, I took in several of them. I hope the woman either took those kittens to a shelter or hand-fed them.


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