So I'm driving home from work this morning and along the side of the highway I see a cat. This isn't particularly rare, as there are a ton of feral cats that live out there. This one was different, though, in his positioning: he's lying on the highway shoulder and appears to be praying. I drove by, thinking he was dead. After driving a short way I find myself thinking that this "was an unusual position to die" in, and I turned around to go back. Again I look, and this cat is most certainly dead. I drive on, again. Again, I get to thinking, "that isn't the same position" he was in before. I turn around again. Sure enough, he has moved. I pull over, flip on my hazards, and get out of the car. This poor little creature is attempting to drag himself off of the highway. He is bleeding from the nose and mouth, his eye is ruptured and out of the socket. His breathing is labored and his other eye is full of blood. I grab a coat out of the car and cover him with it. I pick him up, surprisingly easily with no real fight from him, and put him in the passenger seat. I talk to him, explaining where we're going, and I drive him to the emergency vet that's on the way home. Occasionally, I think I hear his ragged breathing cease.
I carry him, still covered, into the vet's office. This time he struggles a bit, being carried is hurting him no doubt. We are ushered into an examination room, the vet tech comes in. She looks him over and says, "it is most humane to put him down." I ask to see the vet. It strikes me now what a pretty cat he is. He is yellow and tiger striped, but he has more dark tipped and gray fur than I noticed on the highway. He is thin, but not terribly skinny. His paws are larger than one would expect for his body size. The vet comes in, looks the cat over, and he agrees, stating that he has severe head trauma, two broken hips, a shattered leg, and respiratory distress; likely internal damage. The vet says that the cat will have to have the shattered leg amputated, and that he will be blind - that is IF he survives, which he most likely will not. He states again that putting this cat humanely out of his misery is the kindest decision I can make. I say ok, fighting tears as you can imagine, and insist on staying with him. I rub the top of his head, between his ruined eyes, afraid to touch him anywhere else lest it cause him more pain. The cat dies quietly, his ragged struggled respirations finally easing into silence.
The vet tells me that this cat was young and strong and would have laid on the edge of the highway for hours until finally succumbing to the damage that was done to him. He tells me I've done the right thing. He tells me this cat was lucky I drove by. He tells me I did the right thing. So why do I feel so sick about it?
I named him Peabo. Peabo for a cat I met years ago, a huge, fat, tiger striped, lazy looking cat that I wanted so badly because I could see him in my mind being a fixture on the back of my couch. I named him Peabo because he probably never had a name.
But I never got to tell him.
So, Peabo, I am sorry. And if I had it to do all over again, I'm not sure, still, that I could have put you through all the suffering it would have taken to put you back together again. I hope that my picking you up from the side of the highway, in some small way makes up for the fact that you wound up there in the first place. I hope that you understand why I chose what I chose, to let you go.. And I hope that you feel that I did the right thing.
I have no doubt that you are whole and free now, Peabo, that your world now is far better than the world you lived in here.
Rest in Peace, Peabo.