Looking through the kitchen window the other day, I saw a strange cat by the garage. It was a gray tabby, gingerly treading about the withered plants which lined the driveway. Its movements were odd, very tentative, as if its paws were hurt. Not one to be antisocial, I went outside and called "Kitty, kitty, kitty" but received no acknowledgment. The cat's head turned, but it did not look at me. Its eyes were blue, not a common color in tabbies.
I was getting cold, I went back inside to get a jacket. When I got back the cat was gone. I walked around the side of the garage and saw it sitting in the dry leaves under a lawn chair. I walked closer and called again, but the cat sat still, not responding to either my voice or my presence. Walking even closer, I could see that the poor creature's eyes were clouded with cataracts. I turned around and left him there.
How did it come to pass that a blind, and possibly deaf, cat was traveling through the neighborhood? It had no collar- was it feral? If it was, how did it survive in the wild with such handicaps? I thought of bringing it in, but if it really was a feral that would be a foolhardy move. Was it an elderly house pet who had left the security of home and had been wandering for days, searching for a way back? Or was it a cat which had been abandoned? What would I do with a cat, a blind one at that? We've never had cats in the house; it would require a complete commitment and a big change in our lifestyle- that sounds really shallow, I know, but it is true. If I left it outside, it wouldn't be long for this world, not with freezing temps and a winter's worth of snow coming.
Later, after doing some chores, I returned to the back yard. The cat was gone.
I can't save the whole world. More shallowness.
I couldn't even save a cat.
Was this visit really a portent of my own demise? Old, cold, blind and alone, searching for a place to curl up and await death's release: the end of all suffering.
Illustration: "The Black Cat", by F. Gilbert Edge, 1902