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"Just" a stray.

Last night I drove to the local video store along a busy six-lane boulevard. It was dark and drizzly and the roads were vivid with colors and reflections.

Suddenly a small shape darted from my left, quickly traversing the three leftmost lanes right into the glare of my headlights, eyes agleam with suprise. I thought it was a possum or a rabbit but it was a small grey cat, a tabby. Startled by my unexpected approach it skidded to a stop, abruptly changed direction and scrambled back in the direction it'd come like the devil himself was on its tail.

"No harm done", I said to myself as I drove on. The little guy had learned its lesson about cars and hopefully would be more careful from here on.

This morning I got to thinking about that little cat as I drove to return the movie, about where it was coming from and where it mght have been headed. One side of the street was an apartment complex and on the other was a convienience store, so it was probably just trying to find something to eat. It may have been someone's cat accidentally left out in the rain or a beloved family pet that had escaped through an opened window. A feral cat would have been a bit wiser about traffic, at least more wary, or so I thought.

The reason I was thinking of that little cat is that I saw him again, or what was left of him. He'd evidently attempted the dangerous trek to find food once again, but this time he didn't make it. My heart broke when I saw the little grey ears sticking up, almost the only recognizable part left.

For the rest of the day I've been gripped in a strange melancholy. Should I have done something? Could I have done something? I realize that the answer to both questions is a simple "No" but I console myself with the knowledge that I provide food for strays, catch-neuter-release those that I can and find homes for the rest, but that doesn't dull the regret of another small life lost. Even one to which I had only the most tangential of connections.

So where is your cat today? Snug in a warm corner of your home, purring away the hours with a belly full of good food?

I sure hope so.

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