The other day, I was cycling in a park by the river. It was a mild, beautiful day, full of rich autumnal colours shimmering in the sunlight. I stopped to sit at a picnic bench – not somewhere I ever sit – usually favouring a spot further down the river, but as this bench was bathed in sunlight, I decided to sit there for a short while. When I got up to leave, I looked behind me and was amazed to see a cat carrier – with a fully grown cat sitting quietly inside. The door was partly open, but the cat wasn’t making any moves to get out.
What on earth was a cat doing here – had she been abandoned? The signs looked like it – a broken carrier, the door left ajar. A better question was, what was I going to do about it? I didn’t feel I could just leave her there to her unrequested fate. I immediately thought of calling cat shelters, but while I had my cell phone with me, I had no means of looking anything up.
I decided to call a friend who used to have a cat, to see if she or her partner could source some numbers of shelters for me to call. It was lucky I caught them, as I only had their home number, and they were on their way out. Every shelter I called greeted me with an answering machine. I called back my friend, and though they lived the other side of town, they decided to hop over and fetch the cat.
I guarded the cat over the next hour as I waited for them, while the sun retreated behind the hills, bringing a cold chill to the air. When my friends arrived, they duly coaxed the cat into their sturdier cat carrier and cared for her at home until they could take her to a vet – a visit which yielded a healthy cat but with no microchip to establish ownership. I went back to the area where I’d found her and neighbouring streets, but could see no trace of any ‘lost cat’ signs or any indication that she had been there.
So, through a series of ‘happenstance’, my friends – who were apparently considering getting another cat (when the time was right) , now have a beautiful feline who, having recently visited her, seems content and to be settling in well to her new home.
While there are so many questions about how and why this cat had been left by the river, in some ways, the bigger question is, had I not come along, what would have happened to her? Would others have stopped to help or just left her to her fate? It raises the question of what our responsibility is to one another, including animals. Is it possible to care about such creatures, without having a vested interest?
Maybe this cat wasn’t directly a part of my world, but I feel that I’m a part of hers, in that we’re all living and breathing and sharing this earth together. To abandon a creature in need – especially when it is possible to help – is to abandon a part of ourselves and our humanity. And next time, we may be the creature in need of help and hoping a passerby will help us too.