Tapping into the Caring Side of People

This is a story that illuminates our contrasting attitudes towards the domestic cat. I’d like to comment on a cat story from Seattle. The story may, in fact, be about how people respond to emergencies and behave well in emergencies (i.e. when there is a need to pull together) but can become complacent and selfish in day to day life.

Cat sitting on the road

Cat sitting on the road. Photo by B4bees. The comments on Flickr are strange. “He looks as if he is confident in his own surroundings and waiting patiently for a hunt yet to come!” What about traffic? Perhaps it is a cul de sac.

The owners of the cat in the story let their cat roam (if he had an owner). This is common in many countries and I understand the thinking behind it. However, there is a place and a time when allowing a cat to roam is careless thinking, in my opinion. At one time, for a short time, I was a careless thinker in respect of my cat and we both paid the price. Perhaps we all need a shock to pull us out of complacency.

The cat has no name so I’ll call him Rufus as he had red hair. In time honored fashion Rufus was hit by a car on what appears to be a fairly busy road. Rufus survives with severe internal injuries and lies beside the road.

A car driver and his wife (Mr and Mrs Doherty) see him on the side of the road. They stop in one lane of traffic and check Rufus. He is breathing heavily and bleeding from the mouth. He is alive but seriously injured. Rufus tries to get off the road but can’t move. These are strangers to this cat and they are very concerned for him. They are putting their own health and property at risk because it can be difficult and dangerous to park your car half on and half off a busy road and attend to an injured animal. A lot of drivers behind will simple shout at you. It has happened to me!

Then other people stop their cars. They block the lane to allow the Dohertys to attend to Rufus. One of the other drivers  – there are now a good number – uses his mobile phone to find out where the nearest veterinary clinic is.

These good people, strangers to one another and to Rufus, are all concerned for Rufus’s health and well being and spend time helping while the cat’s owner is oblivious to it all. They are struggling to save his life. This is a team effort. I’d love to see this attitude more often.

The Dochertys take Rufus to South Seattle Vet Hospital near closing time. X-rays reveal internal injuries and a bill of $2000 to do necessary surgery. The decision is to euthanize and Rufus is loved during his last moments by people who had come to know him and treat him as their own.

Is a cat’s life cheap or valuable?  It depends on who you are and the circumstances. There is a strange contrast in the euthanasia of thousands of healthy cats at shelters and the behavior of the people who tried to save Rufus’s life.

I wonder if Rufus’s owner (if he had one) ever found out abut the efforts of these people, who gave up their time to help a seriously injured cat. I wonder if the owner was just oblivious to it all. Perhaps he had no owner.

The original story.

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Tapping into the Caring Side of People — 27 Comments

  1. I just read this quote and it made me think of you Michael and the environment you oversee here amongst us cat lovers: “Diversity of opinion does not necessitate intolerance of spirit, nor should it embitter or set rational beings against each other.” [The 1910 Christmas Letter from the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saint, 3]

    • Excellent saying. Love it. We can and do have differences of opinion but we have the same hearts and general thoughts. That is the important things. And tolerance of others coupled with good manners is so important.

  2. Wow, that is, sadly, a situation that is occurring more and more often. We had a stray (?) kitten show up one day with a leg missing. Our neighbors went the extra mile and took him and his litter mates in and paid for their vaccinations, etc. We have agencies that will pickup the injured animals and treat as their donated funds allow. It requires a ton of volunteers and people who love animals enough to part with their hard earned cash. My heart goes out to those people who lovingly tried to help Rufus. (shaking my head sadly). $2000 was more than they could give. I like to think that they would of paid the money if they could of. Dang this is a tough one.

    I think that a system needs to be put in place and funded for such events. A vet would have to make the call whether the animal should be put down or not based on injuries. Than the volunteers can go to work after all medical care is done and the animal can get a second lease on life. With all that said, I blame the vet in Rufus’s case. Couldn’t he cut them a break? If Rufus could recover and enjoy several more years of life, why couldn’t he give the Good Samaritans a break? Am I wrong?

  3. Rufus was suffering also and may not have survived with treatment anyway. Vet’s recommendation may have been to euthanize. It may have been the kindest thing he could do.

  4. Poor Rufus, yes it was the kindest thing to euthanise him.
    Thankfully there are many kind people who help animals in distress and I try to think of this when I get down in the pits of despair about the cruelty or uncaring attitude of some.

    • Me too Ruth. There seems to be something good in the vast majority people that is squashed by life events and the mess in the world. Or perhaps I am being too optimistic.

  5. I can’t stand to think about Red being alive after he was hit. He was far from the road when I found him. I’m not sure if maybe someone put him there so he would not get squished by cars. It pains me to think that he might have been alive for a time, lying there, without me when he needed me the most. I still can’t believe he really isn’t coming back. He had so much potential and I thought we would live a wonderful long life together. It’s the single greatest tragedy in my life. He is still very much missing from my life. I feel like he should be here to see the first snowfall. That was hard. And the summer arriving will be hard too. In a way I want the winter to never end. At least cats like to be inside in winter.

      • Thanks Ruth – sorry to be so depressing. Whenever it snows, or its a beautiful day, or there’s a storm or some kind of special day – I always feel most of all at those times like he is missing. I remember his first snow. I made a video. It was such a wonderful and happy day for both of us which I will never forget. He died on the last day of June, right when the very hot weather had set in. I am dreading it this year coming but it should be something I am looking forward to. I also know it will be hard to keep my cats in when that time comes. Thats why I find I don’t want it to come, but it is inevitable. He was so excited when it got warm, there were so many plants and insects and little noises at night – it was his jungle and such a wonderful thing to be a part of. It’s so hard to let go of it all. At least until I am able to move to a safer place for my cats and I can let them have similar experiences.

          • yes I will send it to you tomorrow. I am on my tiny laptop now so its on another laptop. I have many videos and photos of the litters of Kittens – Red and his siblings and cousins. So many.. Michael, if you have a facebook profile then send a request to Lilli Sorn (the S has an accent, its slavic) and you will see alot I have on there uploaded. I had a very sad day today thinking about Red again. There is nothing to be done but to remember how wonderful he was 🙂

    • I can really feel your emotional pain. It comes across very strongly. You might remember I lost my girl cat, Missie, in the same way and she was under a bush about 50 yards from the road. I am certain she got there on her own. Cats can keep going for a while. It is almost like momentum carries them forward. The impact of her death was the same on me. It took about 15 years for it to subside but it still hurts almost 20 yeears later. I have a lot of guilt about it too.

      I have this clear vision/image of her running in the garden with Binnie who died about a year ago of old age. The pair were very happy. And when I came home and called her, she raced down the garden towards me, so happy to see me. That image will never leave me.

      • It sounds very similar to my situation. That day was a sort of vivid nightmare that was so unreal. The real part is that he is gone. I am still very close to it emotionally. I am dreading the last day of June this year. I will go and plant some orange flowers and some sunflowers on his grave when the winter subsides. I’ll visit him on the anniversary of his death and leave some nice big leaves on his grave. He loved big leaves 🙂

        • He brought me many leaves to my bed in the night even. I’d wake up with a new big leaf next to me. I still have some of them 🙂

          • He brought you leaves? So touching. This was a special amazing cat Marc. You were so lucky to know him, however brief. The stories are wonderful, sorrowful yet filled with so much love. I’m sorry for the angst. I hope thinking of him sometimes puts a big smile on your face. He was lucky he found you.

            • It does – but sometimes I think that he was unlucky he found me you know, because he might have lived longer with another person. Thats a hard one for me to come to terms with. We just got on really well. He chose me from the very begginning. I was playing with 2 litters of kittens – 8 in all, and he would always come and sit on my knee and grab at the string toys from on me. He liked me. He would jump on me and try and take me down every time I went to leave through the gate at the end of the day. We were always so excited to see each other each day that he was living in another home and I was just visiting.

            • I think he brought them like toys to play with – I always used to play with him with sticks and twigs and flicking leaves around. He’s also chase leaves in the wind. But he was very selective with leaves. I’ll find you a video where he picks out a leaf to play with. We alsways played alot with bits of nature so leaves fitted right into that and I think he brought them for me to play. He would bring me the wand/string/feather toy too, dragging it all the way up onto the bed. I woke up with toys on me. In winter I think he got a bit bored at night while I was asleep because there is nothing going on outside – no insects or life of of sorts so he was ready for us to play as soon as I woke up. He liked the crunchy sound of dried leaves. He liked big fresh leaves too. If I ever was out and saw a nice leaf I would bring it to him as well. The cats now are inside so they just have toys which they do carry around and bring to me as well sometimes. I have cat grass for them and I bring in twigs and branches and things from outside which they love and sniff and study for ages. It’s the best I can do for now. Red even brought me bits of fabric and other funny things – I am not sure where he got them or who they belonged to.

        • Marc try not to beat yourself up so much, think about Red at peace, nothing can hurt him any more but you are still suffering and he wouldn’t want you to.
          Easier said than done I know as I still torture myself from things that happened in the past.
          Babz and I have lost so many loved ones, people and pets, that we sometimes ask ourselves how we go on and we feel our hearts are too full now to hold any more grief, so we treaure every day we are together and our two cats with us.

          • I dont so much beat myself up but thanks for mentioning it. Only that which I mentioned before about if he went with somebody else would he still be alive. But I accept everything including letting him out. It was the only way for him. He had a perfectly wonderful life but it was just too short for me. How selfish I am but I know he is ok now. I wish he could hear me and see me somehow so I could talk to him. When I found him and brought him home the first feeling was that he was in my arms but he could no longer hear me. It’s the first encounter I have hads so close to death in my life. He loved me most when I was happy so I know thats what he would want if it were a question. He would even try and cheer me up if I was down. But I suppose its very obvious to all that he made me unbelievably happy. He was my little boy – my first boy ever actually, since my other cats were always girls. I was so proud of him and I have no doubt he felt that energy in his own way and he would poke me if I wasn’t feeling good. He’s nosebut me and make little tweets as if to try and knock me out of my mood and back into my usual mood.

            • You don’t know for sure that if Red was with someone else he would still be alive, I believe that you can’t change fate, whatever you do! Also he may not have had such a good life with someone else as he so obviously did with you. Quality of life counts as well as quantity.
              I still beat myself up over a neighbour’s cat who almost lived with us as they left him out long hours. They emigrated without him 6 years ago, they sent him to live by a busy road and yes he was run over and killed at 6 years old. How I wish I’d hidden him away the last time she came to collect him from our house, he was snoozing happily in an armchair, he wanted to live with us but she wouldn’t leave him. I so regret handing him over that day but sadly he wasn’t ours, but he should have been and here with us still.

      • Maybe I should do an article on Red – in his memory – at some point. Maybe I am not ready for that yet but in the future I may suggest/ask you Michael.

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