As you may know from the W/U I wrote yesterday about looking after a stray cat, I've had a skinny stray coming to my house for a week or so. With the help of a friend who owned both a car and a cat-box, I finally decided to send it to the vets and to hopefully get it picked up from there by the RSPCA. I can't look after the thing myself, as it's against my flat-contract, plus the cat's obviously ill, as it's so thin.

So yesterday evening, my friend and I went into the back yard to try and take it with us. The cat came running over, and was it's usual friendly self. It purrs very loudly and it seems like will come and play with anyone. After greeting it, we decided it was time to go.

The cat became very frightened by our attempt to get it into the catbox, and spat and hissed while struggling violently. Eventually it was pushed in after 20 seconds of struggle. It started mewling in a rather pathetic way, and obviously hated being in the carrier - more than a normal cat would do - trying to push the door open with its paw.

As quickly as possible - which due to shitty traffic was longer than ideal - we drove to the vets. All the time the cat meowed in terror, and promptly wet itself in fear. I carried the basket on my knee, and tried to calm it, but it failed to have any effect.

When we finally got there, it sat dejected in the carrier crying. No amount of cooing to it would calm it: it simply couldn't understand what was going on and what would happen to it. How could it?

After trying to explain the advice I was given by the RSPCA to one of the vet's nurses, about dropping it off with them, it was taken away, still crying out.

Now I know that I've certainly done the best thing for the animal, but I've been very affected by all this. The worst part is causing suffering to such a mild tempered animal that already has a pretty shitty existence - almost starved to death - and that had come to rely on me for food and shelter. I hope that it's going to be in safe hands, but it's not clear if it will get treated due to the limited resources of the various charities that would deal with it. It certainly may be the case that it won't live much longer, either because it's too ill or because it will be put down.

Now not all of this is about the cat and me getting overly sentimental about an animal, I’m not so unrealistic as that. The cat was just something that plainly showed me two things: that first, we're almost entirely incompetent in the face of sickness, suffering and death*, and secondly, that we cannot possibly understand that which undertakes to save us - what saves us may in fact totally terrify us in the process.

* I’m a Mahayana Buddhist, BTW, so I feel like an understanding or appreciation of sickness, suffering and death should be second nature to me. I guess I was wrong. There’s obviously a huge difference between thinking of it and coming face to face with it, embodied in a creature that turns up at your door.