Life in the city

I think that no matter how long I live, I’ll never understand certain human behaviors.

Take today’s experience. I had just left our downtown waterfront park after an enjoyable morning walking, dodging jets of water at the public fountain, and having my baby girl take her first-ever carousel ride.
I had just merged into expressway traffic heading home when I started seeing dark, roundish objects bouncing on the road ahead. I watched as a few cars swerved to avoid hitting the unknown items.
Before I had time to do anything I was upon one of them. I realized at closer range that this was an animal of some sort. At first I thought it was a dead squirrel. Then it looked like a rat, but it wasn’t dead, it was twisting around, legs flailing.
My mind was racing, trying to make sense of what I was seeing. I’ve seen rats many times, but never on the highway.
Then I heard it go under my wheel. I glanced in my rear-view mirror to confirm my worst fear. Suddenly the “rat” stopped rolling, upended itself and started sprinting toward the shoulder.
That’s when I realized in absolute horror that is wasn’t a rat* at all, but a month-old tabby kitten. It rolled a few more times, obviously mortally wounded, before making it to the shoulder.
I looked forward again to find more kittens on the highway. It struck me then that SOMEONE HAD DUMPED A LITTER OF KITTENS ONTO THE HIGHWAY. From an overpass? From a car? I couldn’t guess. I couldn’t even imagine the sick mind that could conjure up this as a solution to the pressing problem of what to do with an unwanted litter. Worse yet, I wondered if it was a sick prank.
By now, I was so distraught I had to pull over. I desperately wanted to get out of the car and chase after every one of those poor, doomed creatures. I wanted to scoop them up and wrap them all in blankets and nurse them back to health.
But I had Girl from the East in the backseat. I was alone. It was the inner-city. Traffic was fairly heavy and moving quickly. I couldn’t risk my daughter’s safety for this seemingly hopeless cause.
But I couldn’t bring myself to just drive away, either. Didn’t anyone else notice these animals in distress — in the middle of freakin’ 70 mph traffic?
Finally I got it together enough to call Mr. Husband to get the phone number for the Humane Society shelter in our area. I got through and reported the incident.
But my heart sank. What could they do? If they could even find the exact spot where I saw the kittens, I’m sure it would be too late, if they even had the resources to send someone out.
I took a deep breath and pulled back into traffic. The image of that gray furry kitten — I saw its face — as it tumbled toward my front grille — is not going to leave me for quite some time.
I’ll never understand the motivations behind abandonment of any living creature no matter how small or perceived as insignificant. I’ll never understand some people’s complete lack of conscience in dealing with the results of their own irresponsibility. I’ll never understand how others, upon witnessing these behaviors, will continue on their merry way without so much as a second thought.
It’s haunting me that I didn’t do more. I know life can be cruel. Life in the big city can be so heartless sometimes. Another day in the city.

*Edited to clarify: In no way am I suggesting that the lives of squirrels and rats are less significant than kittens. It’s only that rats and squirrels are wild animals. If they found their way onto a highway, it most likely was not at the hands of humans. I’d still feel horrible inside if a family of squirrels or rats were being knocked around like pinballs on the highway.

6 thoughts on “Life in the city

  1. …I have tears rolling down my face just upon reading your post, I actually feel sick to my stomach. You know you really couldn’t of done more than you did and I hope you find comfort in that… You couldn’t put your life or your lil’ ones life in jeopardy in rush hour traffic to save them and chances are none of them survived the ordeal. Nothing in this world upsets me more than child abuse, animal abuse and elderly abuse and I think the laws need to be much, much harsher for those that choose to do these acts.

    …It’s odd that you post this because just this morning we saw a story on our local news about a horse that was dragged behind an ATV. The horse survived but was terribly maimed and is now being cared for at a rescue ranch here in Missouri. Ends up the owner sold the horse to another neighbor and the horse decided it wanted to go back home and it did. The new owner caught up to it, tied a rope around its legs and drug the horse down a gravel road to his house. It’s sickening, absolutely sickening…

    …I’m sorry for the long comment and I pray that someone saw whoever is responsible for what happened to these kittens and that they will be prosecuted. And know that this wasn’t your fault, you just happened upon a traumatic incident and only time will ease what you saw.

    …Take care, you’re in my thoughts & prayers…

    …Blessings… :o)

  2. That’s so awful. I pick up strays all of the time. I’m not able to keep them all, but at least I can feed them and care for them for awhile. I’ve had to take many of them to the shelter and hope that they’re adopted. Even if they have to be Euthanized, I feel that it is more humane than having them wander around and slowly starve or live in terror. I picked up a pup once that was so starved that his hair was falling out. It takes an animal to treat an animal that way.

  3. It’s not much different in the country, I’m afraid. My cousin, when he lived with us for the summer, found a paper bag full of puppies beside the road. (He kept one of them.) We get stray cats and dogs dumped on us all the time because people think that farms/dairies need cats and dogs (we don’t). The ones who survive the road have to fight the other cats to survive and either starve because they don’t know how to hunt, or move in with me because I’m a softie, or die of disease, which happens a lot. I can’t think too much about this or I’ll get really angry or really sad, and I’m at work.

    Hope you can get past this soon, MZ.

    — Laurie

  4. Hey Laurie: It’s interesting to get another perspective on this subject. I’ve lived in the city all my life and I always assume city people are the cruelest. I understand nature at work and don’t flinch when the food chain is at work. Still, it is hard to digest how ignorant people can be.

  5. Pingback: Life in the city, Part II | Middle State

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