He’s not much fun. He’s curled up uncomfortably in the huge cage you’ve bought for him to recover in for most of the day. That is, when he's not scratching around in the litter box just five inches from the corner where he sleeps and another five inches from his food and water dishes.
You feed him constantly, hoping that each teaspoon of wet food will go directly to that pelvic bone that snapped under your right rear tire, the slender bone the vet pointed to on the x-ray, assuring you that it would heal in a couple of months, with cage rest.
You let him rest but sometimes open the door to his cage so he can roam, hobbling slowly. He does a solemn perimeter check of your office, sniffing the ancient barf spots in the carpet, then ventures to the nooks and corners where he’s sniffed before, in better days. He stops and looks upward at the wash of sunlight pouring through the window where he would sometimes sit, like a decorative ceramic cat on the back of the piano, looking out. Now, a glimmer of longing comes over his face. You tell him “No!” And he slinks off, stopping to look up at the cozy futon where he’s slept on many a winter’s day, and perhaps a memory comes to him, as he swallows hard, as if choking back a furball, or just a sad thought. And when he’s back in his cage, he wraps himself into a ball, covers his eyes with his two good paws and falls asleep.
When you run over your cat, you know you’ll never forget that eerie feeling of something under your wheel. What’s that? A branch? Why would there be a….? Oh, God! The cat! You realize this too late as he darts out from under and looks back at you, his eyes round with shock. You put the car in park, throw open your door and run after him, for he’s trying, with one side of his body a useless impediment, to get to the backyard, running for his life, running from you! Now, from his cage, he looks at you, or seems to, anyway, quite differently. You don’t know what he’s thinking when he wakes up and scowls, slit-eyed, and rises trying to balance in the least painful way, as some kind of thought returns to his little sleepy brain that he’s not the same old cat that he used to be, at least for now.
When you run over your cat, you keep saying you’re sorry, and sometimes you remind him it was, sadly, his own cat-fault for sleeping in a risky place. You want to go back to just before that horrible moment and have the wisdom for check to see if he was lazing in the sunny spot behind your car. You keep apologizing and hoping that he’ll say“It’s okay, really!” But he doesn’t, and he never will.