There was a black and white cat lying full length on the opposite side of the road when I drove to work this morning.
I thought “dead cat”, and then its tail moved. I stopped the car and put my bag into the footwell so that so that I could put the cat on the roadmap on the passenger seat if I had to. I was aware that I wasn’t sure that there would be anyone at the vet’s at half past seven in the morning.
It was quiet but the sun was bright and harsh.
I stood close to the cat in the road, to protect it while a car came up the hill. The cat was barely marked but there was blood on its teeth and its jaw. There was a small splash of blood on the road. Its eyes were wide open, and very clear. The tail must have been caught in the wind or else I had seen the cat’s last breath.
On the other side of the road there was a man reading the paper waiting for his dog. I called over to him. He put the dog in his house, crossed the road, looked at the cat and picked it up by the scruff of its neck. It hung heavy and boneless from his hand.
He went to put it in the nearest dustbin. I said “don’t do that”. Someone somewhere soon was going to wonder what had happened to their cat.
The people in the nearest house peered out of their window to see what we were doing. The man went round and asked them if the cat was theirs. It wasn’t.
It was already a hot day. The corpse of the cat was lying by the wall in the full sun. I got back in my car and went to work.
It had gone when I drove home this evening.